Fr8Labs, a Singapore and Indonesia-based startup, has secured $1.5 million in seed funding from investors including East Ventures, FEBE Ventures, and Seedstars. The company aims to digitize the logistics industry in Asia by providing a software-as-a-service (SaaS) operating system. Fr8Labs plans to create an open ecosystem that can be accessed by multiple players through application programming interfaces (APIs). The startup currently serves more than 50 customers in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, and Australia and is expanding its services across the rest of Asia.
Fr8Labs has secured
.5 million in seed funding to digitize Asia’s logistics industry. The startup aims to address the technology gap faced by freight forwarders in Southeast Asia by providing a SaaS operating system and an open ecosystem that can be accessed by multiple players through APIs. By streamlining processes and enhancing collaboration, Fr8Labs’ platform improves efficiency and reduces errors. The company plans to expand its platform’s capabilities, offering features such as financing, cargo insurance, and rates management. With its innovative solutions, Fr8Labs is poised to transform the logistics industry and add value across the value chain.
The Challenges of Digitizing Asia’s Freight Forwarding Industry
While freight forwarders in Western markets have made significant progress in digitizing their operations, the same cannot be said for Southeast Asia. Fr8Labs co-founder Glenn Lai attributes this difference to several factors. Firstly, the logistics industry in Asia is more fragmented, with small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) dominating the market. In contrast, Western countries have large enterprise players who can influence other companies to adopt digital systems. Secondly, digital logistics systems developed for specific markets may not work in Asia due to variations in accounting and customs policies.
This gap in technology adoption leaves many freight forwarders in Asia using on-premise software or relying on manual processes such as Microsoft Excel, email, and chat. These outdated practices hinder scalability and can result in costly errors that lead to customs or demurrage penalties.
Fr8Labs’ Solutions for Asia’s Freight Forwarders
Fr8Labs is developing a suite of products to address the specific needs of Asian freight forwarders. Its core offering is an Operating System that supports the entire workflow of a freight forwarder, including quotation, booking confirmations, shipment confirmation, job accounting, and an accounting backend. By streamlining processes and enhancing collaboration, Fr8Labs’ platform improves efficiency and integrates with existing email and chat platforms.
One example of Fr8Labs’ capabilities is its Warehouse Management System module, which enables freight forwarders to manage international shipments to and from the same warehouse. Instead of manual data entries, freight forwarders can simply upload a PDF of a shipping order, and the platform will automatically create shipment booking and other necessary documents, including customs forms.
Expanding the Platform and Creating an Open Ecosystem
Fr8Labs plans to use part of its funding to expand its platform further. The company aims to add features such as foreign exchange trading, financing, cargo insurance, rates management, and a marketplace. Ultimately, Fr8Labs envisions its platform as an open ecosystem that can integrate with various logistics tech software, similar to the seamless integration of devices within the Android or Apple ecosystem. This approach will provide freight forwarders with a comprehensive and value-adding experience.