Nicolaus Schefenacker, sennder’s co-founder and chief strategy officer, was a guest on Startup Insider, a German-language podcast that covers the German startup and founder scene. Startup Insider features news and updates alongside interviews with businesspeople, investors, and experts. Visit Startup Insider’s website here to learn more (in German).
In this episode, Nicolaus talks to host Jan Thomas about sennder’s recent series D closing round and explains why it’s valuable to have a diverse and balanced investor circle. You can listen to the full episode by clicking above or going directly to the episode page here (in German). The interview starts at around the 30 minute mark. We’ve put together a brief English-language recap of the highlights below.
On taking the step to expand a series D round
sennder announced its series D fundraising in January with investors including Accel, Lakestar, HV Capital, Project A, Next47, Scania Growth Capital, Earlybird, and Perpetual. In parallel, there were ongoing discussions with other investors, with full support from the existing investors. The two-part approach to the closing was the best choice because it allowed sennder to further diversify its circle of investors. New investor Baillie Gifford led the second closing of the series D, with all of sennder’s major investors participating as well.
sennder has always strongly profited from the support, help, and guidance of its investors and their contacts. Having a balanced circle of investors is very important to the company. sennder’s investors aren’t solely venture capital or from the finance industry; the circle of investors also includes corporate investors like Scania. The founders sought to maintain this balance during both phases of the series D round.
On sennder’s diverse, international portfolio of investors
As a tech startup, it is important to understand how investors can support their portfolio companies beyond their funding offers. Investors provide more than money. Every investor has different specialities, experiences, and networks that they can call on. sennder has always been lucky to find the right investors to fit its various growth stages.
For example, HV Capital, Project A, and Scania have invested since the beginning and supported the founders as they were learning the ropes. Accel and Lakestar in particular encouraged speedier growth, and all the existing investors offered ongoing support for the leadership team as they learned to handle the complexities of a quickly scaling company.
On how sennder’s inorganic growth strategy has found success
M&A is a fairly rare growth strategy for German startups. But it has been a good strategy for sennder. 2020 brought both the COVID-19 pandemic and the launch of a relatively large number of logistics startups hoping to digitalize the market. That meant that there was room to consolidate the market. sennder had three big opportunities. The joint venture with Poste Italiane made sennder the leading freight forwarder, whether digital or traditional, in Italy. No one has as much daily volume in Italy as sennder. This was followed by the acquisition of Everoad in France, then the acquisition of Uber Freight’s European business. In 2021, another opportunity presented itself, and sennder acquired the Netherlands-based Cars&Cargo to expand capacity in this specific geographic region.
Going forward, the company will take what it has learned from these acquisitions to acquire more classic freight forwarders, which will allow sennder to build capacity in the market. Demand is higher than supply right now, so expanding networks is an important step.
On changes in the logistics industry and the role of digitalization and sustainability
The logistics industry will need to reinvent itself over the next few years. For example, sennder expects that transport volumes will increase. E-commerce is growing, as is the European economy, so demand will go up. But capacity is still limited. This means that there are many opportunities for optimization within the industry. This optimization can take a variety of forms, from connecting loads, improving routing, and reducing empty kilometers to making the industry as a whole more sustainable. sennder wants to be a leading driver of this reinvention process.