Startup taking shipping industry paperless sails to ​six-figure Seed​ ​round​

Investors in this round: Jenson Funding Partners alongside Larix Equity, Pinto Ventures and number of angel investors

eTEU, the shipping document digitisation platform, aims to remove centuries of paper-based processes with blockchain technology following fundraise 

eTEU, a SaaS platform that removes the need for physical shipping paperwork, has secured a new round of funding from early-stage focused venture capital firm Jenson Funding Partners alongside Larix Equity, Pinto Ventures and number of angel investors including Nils Wemhoener, former Head of Logistics for Amazon Europe, Joao Monteiro, former VP of New Business at Kuehne + Nagel and Sandi Fatić, Co-founder of Calimero and first infrastructure engineer at NEAR Protocol. The investment will fund the commercial product launch of eTEU’s electronic Bill of Lading (eBL) – a document of title for the cargo – and extend this service to both shipping and freight forwarding companies. 

Shipping trade documentation has historically been paper-intensive and resource heavy. For example, the Bill of Lading is a key document in international trade and is still issued in paper-form for over 98% of cross-border shipments and shipped around the globe by courier postal services. On average a single shipping document package contains 50 sheets of paper that are exchanged between up to 30 stakeholders. The need to authenticate and handle the wide range of paper documents required for a single process often leads to delays in the supply chain and unnecessary monetary and resource expenses. While many once-legacy industries such as banking and insurance have started to embrace innovation, the shipping industry has fallen behind, remaining outdated from times when global shipping trade was first introduced. 

Co-founders Eduard Oboimov, Mykhaylo Lepekha, Valentyn Kutateladze and Kristian Volohhonski launched eTEU in 2020 after experiencing the frustrations of analogue paperwork and processing first-hand from working in the shipping and logistics industry. They come from families with a history across many generations of involvement in international trade business. eTEU’s platform aims to solve these pain points by issuing a digital version of the Bill of Lading on the blockchain. This preserves the uniqueness of the paper document and creates an audit trail of documentation for every shipment that will improve supply chain resilience and efficiency, allowing the exchange of the trade documentation with a single click of a button. 

eTEU has successfully piloted its eBL platform with a number of shipping and logistics companies around the world, including one of the top five global container shipping companies. The team hopes to tap into larger markets, as the demand for the eBL is rapidly growing. When the eBL adoption was first measured by DCSA in 2020, it was only issued in the electronic format for 0.1% of the shipments. Within the last two years the adoption rate has grown 20 times, with eBLs being issued in over 2% of the shipments by the end of 2022. Adoption is predicted to grow to over 50% by 2030. 

Eduard Oboimov, Co-Founder and CEO at eTEU, says: “International shipping is vital to our global economy and trade flows. The paper-based nature of our current industry leads to complicated processes and unnecessary costs of more than $200 billion in administrative overheads for companies every year. What’s more, the electronic trade documentation solutions currently available on the market are expensive and require complicated implementation by multiple members of the supply chain. This significantly limits the adoption of available solutions because the majority of SMEs lack both technical expertise and budget to implement them. By utilising our proprietary technology and unique capabilities of NEAR blockchain, we have created a platform that saves over 80% of time spent on documentation management during the shipment and can be seamlessly integrated into existing operations of shipping and freight forwarding companies. Our pilot partnerships have had a tangible impact on companies, and we are delighted to be launching our solution to the open market.” 

Sarah Barber, CEO of Jenson Funding Partners, adds: “For an industry that has been around for centuries, it’s surprising how little innovation has taken place to solve the age-old issues within it. The pandemic really exposed the fragility of supply chains, which still heavily relied on physical, paper-based processes that are time-consuming and costly. eTEU is inexpensive and easy to use, meaning companies of all sizes can make the most of its solution. With very successful pilot partnerships already achieved, we are excited to be investing in a company that is changing the way an industry operates through innovation.”