‘Lean’ freight startup Gurucargo aims to eliminate middleman from forwarding

An online freight platform from Uruguay is launching its “lean forwarding” model in the United States next month, and going after legacy forwarders’ market share by connecting carriers with importers and exporters. “We’re saving our customers hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Gurucargo’s co-founder Andres Israel, adding that their model cuts shipping costs by up to 30 percent for many of his customers.

Israel also told Air Cargo World that Gurucargo will announce partner airlines next month when it officially launches the service in the U.S. market.

Gurucargo isn’t the first company to take on the conventional freight forwarding market. Companies like Flexport and Freightos have adopted tech-intensive approaches to carve out market share. Gurucargo’s model takes that approach a step further by connecting shippers directly with carriers, locking in prices for shippers that used to only be available to forwarders. The site publishes prices provided by carriers and books them rather than buying space in advance. Then it and resells capacity at a premium – or loss depending on market movements.

Gurucargo’s interface

Gurucargo said that its model is catching on fast in Latin America, where the company was launched. The freight platform has teamed up with airlines such as LATAM Cargo, and just added maritime giant CMA CGM. Currently, Gurucargo handles 1.5 million USD worth of transactions per month, and is adding 600 new companies per month, which translates into a 15 percent month-over-month growth in users.

In a market where legacy forwarders, such as Panalpina, are warning shippers to book early to lock in low rates to avoid peak-season congestion, startups like Gurucargo face an uphill battle breaking into the market. Israel says that Gurucargo’s edge is its ability to lock in freight rates in advance, with the same convenience as the passenger side. That means that shippers can settle their supply chain costs farther out without paying a premium for pricing security.

For the other steps, such as warehousing, customs clearance or last-mile, Gurucargo outsources the services and its customers can select which services they want to add to their shipment.

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