Globatom, a software-as-a-service startup aimed at improving the process of shipping goods, has overhauled its executive team, received new venture funding and gone all-in with Microsoft Azure as its cloud provider, its CEO said in an interview.
The Seattle-based company, founded in April 2014, parted ways earlier this year with co-founder and COO Nate Doran and CTO Alfredo Juarez, hiring in their place COO Kenny Lee and CTO Tommy Stephenson. Lee had been co-founder of Airtus, an air-freight company that Globatom acquired. Stephenson is a seven-year Microsoft veteran who “is the right guy to get this done,” said Globatom co-founder and CEO Dan Acosta.
“They’re a much more mature team with a lot more experience,” Acosta said.
Their arrival brings to 22 the headcount at Globatom (pronounced “GLOBE-uh-TOM”), which has scored $2.7 million in venture capital to date, including a recent $200,000 investment from Brazilian fund Mindset Ventures. That investment “is enough to be able to start expanding our product into Latin America, specifically Brazil and Chile,” Acosta said.
Mindset Ventures is associated with Microsoft, with whose accelerator program Globatom has worked closely, he said. The company is also participating in Microsoft’s IoT Insider Labs, a selective program that offers companies access to Microsoft technology and expertise in machine learning and artificial intelligence.
“We got access to Azure engineers with 20 year’s experience,” said CTO Stephenson. “One guy was a data scientist with years of ML and predictive knowledge. A hardware engineer helped us building our own tracking sensors. We even got a project manager.”
The first of several planned “stints” through the Labs is already helping Globatom retool its infrastructure and use Azure’s machine learning to route goods more intelligently, factoring in weather, strikes, port congestion, and social media and news to minimize the probability of problems. For example, South Korea’s Hanjin Shipping, the world’s seventh-largest shipper, declared bankruptcy in August, temporarily marooning $14 billion of goods as ships were denied access to ports from Shanghai to Los Angeles. “By looking at data, we could recommend in advance that Hanjin wouldn’t be a good way to go,” Acosta said.
Globatom seeks to work with retailers, distributors, freight forwarders, carriers and ports. It deals with ships, trains, planes and trucks, offering the ability to compare shipping rates, consolidate payments into a single escrow system, and track shipped goods, offering a view of where cargo is located at any given second that relies on sensors rather than the fax, phone and emails still commonly used in shipping.
The company counts 120 customers “in the pipeline,” Acosta said, including HTL Logistics, of India; Golden State Foods, of Irvine, Calif.; two major pharmaceutical companies; and a large consumer-goods producer. It has agreements in place with American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, and with sensor and satellite companies.
Globatom doesn’t seek to replace existing relationships, which are still very meaningful in the shipping industry, said Todd Waks, chief marketing officer. “We’re nonthreatening. We’re Switzerland. We’re not disruptors — we’re connectors.”