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7bridges raises $17M to automate logistics supply chains using AI

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Supply chain logistics jobs — getting components and, eventually, finished products from A to B to C — is one of the most critical aspects of running a business, not least because it is one of the most complex, involving dozens of companies, hundreds of combinations and permutations, accounting for world events outside of your business, and requiring a lot of people hours to figure out.

Today, 7bridges, a startup that aims to simplify that through an AI-based automation jobs platform — it ingests a company's supply chain, operating, and logistics data to present a user with optimized recommendations for how to move goods — announced $17 million in new funding, indicating market demand to address and fix how supply chains work.

Eight Roads, the investment firm backed by Fidelity, is leading the round for London-based 7bridges is joining forces with Local Globe and enterprise VC Crane, both of which invested in 7bridges' seed round in 2020. Maersk, the shipping behemoth, is also a strategic backer in the round through its fund Maersk Growth: Maersk will work with 7bridges to integrate its logistics and shipping data entry jobs near me into 7bridges to help Maersk customers manage their logistics more easily. The valuation is not disclosed. To date, 7 Bridges has raised slightly more than $20 million.

Eight Roads, a Fidelity-backed investment firm, is leading the round for the London-based company. 7bridges is collaborating with Local Globe and enterprise VC Crane, both of which invested in 7bridges' seed round in 2020. Maersk, through its fund Maersk Growth, is also a strategic backer in the round: Maersk will work with 7bridges to integrate its logistics and shipping data into 7bridges to help Maersk customers manage their logistics more easily. The valuation is not being disclosed. To date, 7 Bridges has raised just over $20 million.

The pandemic presented a moment of realization for those companies that still had their heads in the sand,” he said. “Having an adaptive supply chain is a business-saving issue.”

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The crux of the challenge (and opportunity) that 7bridges is addressing stems from the evolution of supply chain business models over time, as well as global events. Supply chains and the movement of goods are two extremely fragmented spaces that have become even more so in recent years. Covid-19 completely changed the way many partners in a company's supply chain worked (if they continued operating at all).

At the same time, Covid-19 caused massive surges in demand for many businesses, most notably e-commerce, but also any business that found itself squeezed as a result of disruptions elsewhere (eg a pharmaceutical company seeing more orders for drugs in part because others are making less, or just because people became more anxious for their health).

In the normal course of business, a company may work with up to 30 different suppliers, ranging from those supplying components to those shipping parts or the entire product around the world. Those partners will typically work within their own data silos, and some are still a long way from embarking on their ostensibly "digital transformation" journeys. That is, a surprising number of businesses in the larger business world continue to use older, analog, paper-based systems.

All of the disruptions and outdated methods add up to massive inefficiencies. According to 7bridges, McKinsey estimates that 50 percent of logistics spending is wasted due to gaps in company models. At the same time, there appears to be a willingness to invest more to address this: 85 percent of supply chain executives said inefficiencies in their current systems were "a cause for concern."

All of these factors influenced Maersk's decision to invest. "Over the last two years, supply chains have been thrust directly into the commercial spotlight," said Oliver Finch, investment partner at Maersk Growth, in a statement. “There is an urgent need to innovate in the sector and maintain access to goods we rely on. 7bridges has created a novel technological solution to digitalize supply chain design, management, and optimization. 7bridges will enable a broader range of businesses to better leverage the power of data and artificial intelligence to support commercial decision-making. We believe 7bridges has the potential to meet a large unmet market need while also significantly improving companies' supply chains."

Indeed, with AI and automation permeating every aspect of business today, it was a foregone conclusion that a company would emerge to create a platform to bring it all together. That's not to say others hadn't tried before, but according to Beremski and Ashton, a number of factors meant that efforts didn't get off the ground: either the timing in the market wasn't right (a critical mass would not come on board), or the technology was still lacking. “Companies had a crack at this 15 or 20 years ago, but awareness and technology just didn’t match up,” Ashton said.

Now there are more compute resources, and the level of machine learning, the maturity of the systems and reinforcement learning and mathematical optimization, have really only emerged in the last three or four years,” added Beremski. “Logistics is going through a digital transformation, which means that all the services within it are now available through APIs and are just more accessible.” All that makes building a system like 7bridges’, and getting customers on board, much more of a reality.

It's also helped that a slew of other tech startups has emerged to address other aspects of the logistics equation, charting a course for further evolution in the space. Flexport, Zencargo, and a slew of last-mile delivery startups have joined them, as have ERP firms like Xentral and those focused on digitizing and defragmenting manufacturing capacity like Xometry. All of these have laid the groundwork for additional companies to enter the space and tackle other aspects.

Almost every shipper is facing significant supply chain challenges from rising costs and a changing regulatory environment, and lack the tools and know-how to navigate them,” said Davor Hebel, managing partner and head of Eight Roads in Europe, in a statement.7bridges is creating a new category of value optimization software for logistics which has historically only been a service available to the largest shippers from consultants. We are incredibly excited to partner with the 7bridges team as they look to scale the business.”

Source: TechCrunch

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