An Aussie startup helping small businesses better export and import goods has locked in a $1.2 million funding round, led by the biggest shipping company in the world.
IncoDocs was founded by Brandon Boor, Ben Thompson and David Hooper, and provides SMEs with a suite of digital tools to help with import and export documentation. The startup was born from Boor and Thompson’s own experience running their own trading company for six years prior.
“We were doing importing and exporting, predominantly out of Asia, and through that, we stumbled across the widespread problems businesses have with trade documentation,” Boor tells StartupSmart.
“We started to face that problem ourselves, so we went looking for a SaaS-type product to help with it, but we couldn’t find anything in our price range or for our size business. It was all aimed at enterprise-level.”
Businesses trading between numerous different countries are often required to comply with numerous different pieces of legislation and requirements, which leads to headache-inducing documentation. IncoDocs’ product aims to provide a simpler solution through a number of pre-made documentation templates, management and analytics.
Boor and Thompson applied to River City Labs accelerator program Muru-D, and were accepted in late-2016. It was there they found Hooper, a technical co-founder, and the three combined their know-how to turn IncoDocs into a reality.
“To be honest, we didn’t hit success very quickly,” Boor admits.
Despite running through the accelerator and receiving a small amount of funding, it took the team more than a year after leaving Muru-D to start getting some traction, with Boor saying the team kept “getting the product wrong”.
“It wasn’t until February 2018, when we relaunched the third version of the product, did we start to get traction and gain some organic customers,” he says.
It was about that time Maersk, the world largest shipping company valued at about $180 billion, reached out to the founders, interested in their product and how it helped smaller exporters and importers.
That conversation resulted in Maersk leading the company’s $1.2 million round, which was also contributed to by Transition Level Investments and Blackbird Ventures.
“The best part of having the support of a company like Maersk is the network and the credibility it provides us, you don’t get any bigger than them,” he says.
Betty Yan Liu, operating partner at Maersk Growth, said in a statement the company had studied the trade documentation space extensively and picked IncoDocs as a leader.
“We instantly liked IncoDoc’s solution for its simplicity and the virality of the product, and we are convinced the IncoDocs team has the skills and persistence to solve this significant pain-point for SMEs,” Yan Liu said.
The money will predominantly go towards increasing the size of the IncoDocs team to include more designers and engineers. Boor also wants to provide richer features around smart documentation, and to provide more documentation solutions to more countries.
“Global trade is done differently all over the world, so we want to have the capability to cater for all of that, which is quite difficult and time-consuming,” he says.
“Our vision is to help every small business in the world to participate and thrive in global trade by giving them the tools to compete on the world stage.”
“We want to democratise that part of the market.”