After a breakout year in which it delivered on all its market promise and then some, Ottawa last-mile logistics startup GoFor is keeping its foot firmly on the gas pedal as it revs up for an even bigger 2021.
The four-year-old company said Monday it’s closed a $20-million series-A funding round to fuel its ongoing expansion into the U.S. San Francisco-based Builders VC led the round, which also included participation from existing investors Panache Ventures and Plug & Play Ventures as well as newcomers GroundBreak Ventures and MetaProp.
It’s the second major VC raise of the year for GoFor, which landed $9.8 million in seed funding back in June. The company has been riding a massive wave of growth as demand for same-day delivery service has skyrocketed during the pandemic.
Monthly revenues at the Ottawa firm – which provides just-in-time delivery services and makes software that helps customers fill last-minute orders – are now 10 times what they were in February, while its headcount has ballooned to 110 from about 45 in March.
Founder and CEO Brad Rollo said GoFor already had a winning formula even before COVID hit: it could deftly handle the logistics of making sure deliveries of “big and bulky” items such as construction materials made it to suppliers as quickly as possible, usually the same day. By early this year, it was working with the likes of Sherwin Williams, Home Depot and PPG.
“I think what investors like about us is we learned early how to do something that was really hard,” he said. “Construction delivery also taught us to put customer service No. 1.”
GoFor has made more than 200,000 deliveries, and the company now handles all express and same-day shipments for purchases made on Home Depot’s website throughout Canada. But for all its success so far, Builders VC partner Mark Blackwell says GoFor is still just scratching the surface of its potential.
“At the end of the day, whether you’re Home Depot or Wayfair, your delivery is part of your whole customer experience,” he told OBJ on Monday. “That’s the secret sauce of this business. That’s quite frankly what’s going to catapult this to be a billion-dollar business next year.”
Blackwell says that while competitors such as RenoRun and TOOLBX are spending millions of dollars buying their own fleets and building warehouses, GoFor has opted for a “capital-light infrastructure” model that uses third-party delivery crews and is focused solely on logistics.
"There’s no limiting factor to scaling the business."
“There’s no limiting factor to scaling the business,” he said. “It’s not as if we need to buy a fleet of vehicles in Atlanta and Memphis and move all around the U.S.”
Indeed, the U.S. is very much on Rollo and Co.’s minds these days. GoFor’s platform is already available in Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio, and the company plans to enter 11 more major markets south of the border early in the new year, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
In addition, Rollo and his team plan to use the new funding to build up GoFor’s partnership network with major retailers in other verticals beyond construction and home improvement.
To that end, the company recently signed a deal that lets Shopify merchants ship their wares via GoFor’s platform and is hoping to become a delivery partner in the e-commerce giant’s burgeoning fulfilment network.
“Logistics is now probably going to be the hottest investment vertical in 2021,” Rollo said.
The CEO says Amazon and others have gotten the logistics of delivering compact items such as books and electronics down to a science. But bulkier items such as sofas and dressers pose more of a challenge for North America’s e-commerce behemoths.
“Amazon’s really good at delivering the small and they’re really good at delivering to their marketplace,” Rollos said. “There’s a lot of businesses, small mom-and-pops as well, that want to compete against the Amazons of the world that just can’t.”
Cementing its status as a company to watch, the firm will also play a key role in one of the most daunting logistical exercises in history next year. GoFor is partnering with major shipping firms to help transport the coronavirus vaccine in Canada and the U.S.
“We’re pretty excited about it,” Rollo said. “I guess we’ve been doing a lot of things right.”
Calling Blackwell’s forecast of a billion-dollar valuation by the end of 2021 “conservative,” GoFor’s founder said he’s aiming to launch the platform in dozens of other cities in Canada and the U.S. over the next 12 months. Next up is expansion into Mexico, Latin America and Europe, but one gets the feeling Rollo has no intention of stopping there.
“Hopefully, you’ll eventually mention us in the same breath as a FedEx and a UPS,” he said. “We’re just going to continue to grow and see where that takes us.”