London-based Vector.ai secures £11M to tackle growing productivity crisis in international freight forwarding


Freight forwarders globally lose billions of hours to cumbersome and time-consuming administrative tasks as they process billions of shipments every year.

Based out of London, Vector.ai automates arduous tasks and processes that are necessary to move goods around the world on behalf of importers and exporters. Recently, the company that aims to tackle the growing productivity crisis in international freight forwarding has raised $15 million in a Series A funding round.  

The round was led by Bessemer Venture Partners – the US venture capital giant behind successful investments in LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Shopify. Other existing investors, including Dynamo Ventures and Episode 1, participated.

The company will use the funding to accelerate its international expansion plans and cement its position as the automated system of choice for the world’s biggest freight forwarders.

Addresses productivity crisis

Founded by James Coombes, and Nisarg Mehta in 2017, Vector.ai addresses the growing global trade productivity crisis, with all operational staff at freight forwarders losing billions of hours to manual information gathering.

The company uses machine learning to automate these inefficient and error-prone processes transforming workforce productivity and eliminating previously siloed workstreams.

Vector.ai’s innovative platform enables workers to offload many of the basic processes involved in a shipment lifecycle, such as automating accounts payable, customs clearance, pre-alerts, and more. 

Demand skyrockets

The demand for Vector.ai has skyrocketed since the release of its first Beta product in late 2020. 

In 2021, the company has signed up a range of customers, including Fracht, EFL, NNR Global Logistics, The Scarbrough Group, Steam Logistics, and Navia Freight, as well as several of the world’s top-10 freight forwarders.

Vector.ai says that its month-on-month revenue has tripled since the start of the year. The technology is currently used by a range of multi-national to SME freight forwarders across Europe, Australasia, South Africa, and the US. 

James Coombes, Co-Founder, and CEO of Vector.ai, comments: “Most employees within freight forwarders spend the majority of their time communicating with the 10-25 different entities that might be associated with a given shipment and coordinating freight movement and documentation. Communication usually runs through email and attachments, so freight forwarders spend countless hours sorting through documents and manually copying data into a Transportation Management System (TMS), their core system of record. But they’re spending far too much time gathering data rather than analysing. They’re using outdated tools that are no longer fit for the complexity of today’s operational and logistical demands.

“They cannot afford to keep wasting time on low-level processing, which is why we created the technology to automate basic tasks. Over the last three years, our team of experts has been building a platform designed to embed machine learning across multiple data sources and functionalities. We are increasing people’s productivity at work through actionable automation. I don’t see any freight forwarder being able to operate competitively in the next few years without technology like ours.”

Mike Droesch, Partner at Bessemer Venture Partners, says: “Vector.ai is one of the early leaders in an emerging category of freight forwarding workflow automation and digitisation tools. It has built an intuitive and industry-focused product – which is already winning over some of the largest freight forwarders – and a team that can deliver outstanding execution. We look forward to helping them continue their mission to transform this operations-intensive industry.”