Our Series A: A Letter From the CEO

 

So, Forager has successfully raised a Series A. US Venture Partners lead the $10M round, joined by Soma Capital, with the continuing support of Chicago Ventures.

It’s good news, and it feels very strange to have good news in the middle of a crisis.

Because, while I do have good news and I’m so excited to share it, I can’t help but wonder how many of you reading this are facing layoffs, illness, and uncertainty. I have a lot of very big plans for Forager, and if we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic, I’d probably use this letter to take a nice little victory lap. But we are in the middle of a crisis, and we still don’t know how it’s going to play out.

It really got me thinking about the reasons I started Forager.

I’ve been around logistics my entire life, but I didn’t fall in love with it until I started working at Coyote when I was 19. I truly believe we made a lasting impact on the industry there – raising the standard of service while driving down cost as we nipped at the heels of CH Robinson. While I was there, I learned from the best about how to innovate in this industry. I saw the impact of amazing service, and how low costs could improve your business while helping others build their own. After I spent twelve years learning, I was ready to start doing it for myself.

I won’t lie, I started Forager as a digital brokerage. It’s what I knew best. I was comfortable in the world of traditional freight. I was pretty good at it too. It’s why TFI first invested – because they believed our tiny team could do cross-border better than anyone in the business.

But then I spent three days on several operations-focused distribution lists, and I noticed the dozens upon dozens of emails between our operations team, our carriers, the customs brokers, and the facilities. Operating such complex freight was a huge slog for our people and for the shippers. I knew we could continue hiring, set up one of those broker boiler rooms and let fly, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Our team looked around and said, “there has to be a better way.”

 

 

So, we started building that better way. We pivoted away from being a digital brokerage and into being a fully fledged tech company. Completely uncharted territory for me, but our team had grown. We hired on a genius CTO, a flock of dedicated developers, and a whole host of tech experts. It wasn’t just the “Matt Silver” show anymore.

We launched SCOUT in October 2019 as a portal for shippers to access instant pricing and booking for any cross-border truckload. What normally took hours, if not days, now took less than two minutes. We solved the problem of messy pricing and sluggish responses that characterize traditional service providers. Still, we had carriers asking to join SCOUT by Forager because it seemed so easy to use, and with a carrier team stretched thin, we thought “there has to be an even better way.”

So, we started building that, too. Since SCOUT by Forager launched, we’ve been building something much bigger than a portal. We’ve been building an engine to power international commerce. An automated marketplace that gives shippers the tools they need to quote, book, and track all their cross-border shipments in seconds. One that allows carriers to book their optimally matched freight with a team of bilingual exception management experts ready to support them.  We’re building a collaborative environment to bring disjointed and previously offline parties together to streamline the flow of information as critical goods move between the US, Canada and Mexico.

I started Forager because I thought I could do cross-border brokering better than anyone in the industry, but Forager was never about just “me” at all. In a lot of ways, it’s grown past me, beyond my original vision of a brokerage into something that can change the way we move freight. Thanks, largely, to my team.

In these scary, uncertain, unpredictable times, I look back at Forager’s journey and I don’t see a story about an individual with a vision. I see a team of brilliant, talented, innovative people all coming together and creating a new vision, believing in a better way, and building it from the ground up.

 

 

Now I’m looking around, and I’m seeing collaboration everywhere. I see the industry I love rising to the current challenge and ensuring critical goods reach hospitals and shelters and grocery stores. I see a startup community rallying to support local businesses and encouraging each other as they adjust to isolation. I see the core of this company being built on the fundamental belief that seamless collaboration is the future of innovation, and technology is the key to facilitating it. When we all work together, we all benefit – in crisis, and in calm.

With all this in mind, we’re going to use this investment to continue building toward that goal of seamless collaboration across all parties involved in a cross-border shipment, and we’re going to continue building our team. It was a team that made Forager what it is today, and if we want to create the new standard for cross-border shipping, we’re going to need more of the best and brightest.

We’re hiring for a lot of roles in engineering, product, and carrier relations. Even if you don’t see a job that fits your skill set, but you’re as obsessed with changing the industry as we are, apply anyway. Maybe you love logistics, but you’re tired of being a cog in the machine – come to Forager and help build the machine instead. Maybe you’re obsessed with Mexico freight or solving complex problems – if so, join us. The water’s warm. Snacks are limited for now, but we do have virtual happy hours aplenty.

Eventually the threat of COVID-19 will fade, and we will come out the other end the way we always do.

Together.

To all our customers, carriers, and investors, thank you. To our team, you’re incredible. And to all those reading this, have hope and be safe.

Matt Silver