Latin America‘s e-commerce market keeps attracting startups from all over the world amid the strong digitization of small and medium-sized businesses, which now need technological solutions to build virtual stores, manage orders, process payments, make deliveries, and so on.
Following this trend, Zubale, a retail-focused logistics startup, has just raised $40 million Series A to fund its expansion into Brazil and Chile, as well as bolstering its presence in Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Costa Rica. The funding was led by QED Investors and followed by GFC, Felicis Ventures, Hans Tung (GGV Capital) and existing investors including NFX, Kevin Efrusy (Accel), Wollef and Maya Capital.
Founded in 2018 at Harvard Business School by Allison Campbell and Sebastian Monroy, Zubale tackles one of the biggest issues in e-commerce, the last-mile delivery. The startup has built a kind of marketplace of gig workers through which companies from various sectors – from online stores to dark stores – can call on workers to pick, pack, and deliver their products.
Using its proprietary software, Zubale manages the entire delivery logistics for retailers; through an app, the delivery person knows exactly where the products are in the store and the best route for delivery. For example, through Zubale platform, a grocery store or a restaurant can connect with gig workers to pick up and/or deliver e-commerce orders, all in less than 60 minutes, the startup says. Or, companies can connect with freelancers to perform other tasks, such as warehousing and inventory.
Monroy explains that the startup wants to help retailers “beat B2C aggregators” like iFood and Rappi. “Retailers are under great pressure from consumers to improve the buying experience on their digital channels by offering the same speed and quality of delivery found on apps like Rappi, iFood or Cornershop. However, ensuring these levels of service and delivery speed requires a huge technological effort and investment, which retailers are not ready for,” he says.
With the e-commerce boom during the pandemic, Zubale claims to have grown 25% month-over-month in the past two years and to have doubled revenue by the second half of 2021. The startup projects to triple revenue this year.
The Series A funds will be invested in the product, data science, technology and design areas, which currently have more than 150 engineers. “We will use this money to invest in AI and improve our algorithms to increase delivery speed and NPS for our B2B customers,” Monroy said.
In addition, Zubale also plans to include in its portfolio financial products and services for the freelancers in its “gig workers marketplace” through embedded finance solutions.