Andrii Degeler

Maersk Growth in 2018: Paving the road for the future stars of trade

The year 2018 has marked eight investment deals closed by Maersk Growth, the corporate venture arm of Danish logistics giant Maersk. As a mean to source promising startups Growth has launched several venture programmes through 2018; the latest being FoodTrack by Maersk, which focuses on startups with solutions tackling food loss in global supply chains.

FoodTrack by Maersk is an intensive month-long programme, which has been designed and run in close collaboration with the Dutch accelerator Rockstart. During the programme a cohort of selected startups gets the opportunity to relocate to Copenhagen and refine their investment case through access to mentors, domain experts and the unparalleled network of Maersk.

The second edition of FoodTrack by Maersk ended in December with a demo day at Maersk Growth’s office in Copenhagen, where seven startups pitched to the Growth Team for an investment and future partnership with Maersk.

“Venture programmes enable us to engage directly with startup communities from all over the world and give us unique insights into the technological drivers in the industry” said Peter Votkjaer Jorgensen, Venture Partner at Maersk Growth. “The programmes are designed to support the startups in their continued development as well as address key aspects of our usual due diligence process, which means that we can reach a comfortable investment decision faster than usual.”

“At the same time, the programmes give the startups a unique chance to consider Maersk Growth as a potential investor. As a strategic investor we want to contribute with more than just capital and it should be clear from both sides after working together for a month whether we are a good match.”

The big picture

As for the grand scheme of things, Maersk Growth has covered quite a bit of ground over the past few months.

“We’re making investments where we see Maersk adding value and where we see opportunities for logistics integration,” Jorgensen said. “We made our first direct investment in May this year, and have added seven deals more since then.”

The overall purpose of Maersk Growth is to build the future of trade. This does not only include battling food loss, but also translates into new solutions within; Enabling SME’s to trade globally with a vision to make it as easy as pressing a button. Reinvent middlemen services replacing friction and inefficiency in the supply chain through new digital solutions. Solve shortage of truck drivers, mobilize surplus capacity and enable automation and AI through a new era of digital freight forwarders – to name a few of the areas Maersk Growth invests in in transforming the logistics industry.

“As the new means of transportation, including autonomous and electric vehicles emerge, the industry changes drastically,” Jorgensen said. “More and more middlemen are being cut out by AI-driven solutions and platforms. In order to survive the change, you need to make data-driven supply chain decisions which requires digitisation from beginning to the end.”

The road ahead

In 2019, Maersk Growth is planning to make more investments than the year before and stay on the lookout for more startups it can collaborate with and invest in. A key requirement Jorgensen has for the startup teams is that they need to clearly see what value Maersk can add for them longer term.

“We find it quite important that the startups can explain to us why they see us as the right investor, beyond “just” raising capital, even if it at times might lead to a conclusion of Maersk not being the optimal investor” he said. “Aligning those expectations upfront will strengthen the longer-term partnership, ensuring that the value Maersk can deliver can support the startups in growing their business.

Jorgensen is also passionate about changing the view of startups towards strategic investors. The vision of Maersk Growth is that strategic investors and startups need to come together earlier than it usually happens now, and not necessarily only at the scale-up phase.

“Early-stage startups benefit from a good mix of strategic investors, angels, and VCs and we see this in the boardrooms of the startups in which we have invested so far” he said. “When we invest, we buy into the vision of the startup and that it will have a benefit to Maersk in the long run.”

As for FoodTrack by Maersk and similar high-intensity “pressure cooker” startup initiatives, the company is planning to run more programmes in 2019, so stay tuned and watch this space.

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