Cavalry Chronicle
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Cavalry Chronicle

The Backstory of Cavalry x Forto

The management team of Forto: Erik Muttersbach, Michael Wax, and Michael Ardelt (fltr)

by Rouven Dresselhaus

It’s an extremely uplifting feeling when a portfolio company, a company you invested in years ago with deep conviction, closes a significant funding round. When that round also coincides with a billion-dollar valuation, giving Cavalry its first unicorn, it’s a reason to celebrate and look back! But first let me say: Congratulations, Forto! Huge achievement!

So how did it all begin?

Fabian and Ferry Heilemann and I have known each other for over ten years. I highly appreciate their focus — while being relaxed at the same time. When they started working on the idea for Forto (then: Freighthub), a digital freight delivery platform, I spoke with Ferry and immediately wanted to write a term sheet. But a few more days were to go into the process, namely: three!

We walked out of the second meeting, to which I had also invited Marcel Hollerbach and Claude Ritter, completely flashed. The thought cloud that hovered over the three of us read, ‘Why didn’t we come up with that idea?!’. And so, three days after our first conversation with the founders, we sent out the term sheet.

What blew us away?

The founding team had already proven previously with DailyDeal that they were capable of building a successful company based on venture capital — the best prerequisites! In general, the team, since a large part of it came from DailyDeal, seemed very well-coordinated and thoughtfully put together. In addition, we sensed right from the start how much the team had already absorbed the market. The software was already running like clockwork and it was foreseeable that the user interface would also look excellent. Here, the founders benefited greatly from their consumer background. All in all, the founding team brought exactly the qualities we were looking for: An ambitious vision and an eye for detail.

During our due diligence, we also looked at the market. The U.S. player Flexport was already quite far along at that point, suggesting that the European market was ready for a digital freight platform. The Asia-Europe route, which had not been digitally developed, was lying fallow and finally wanted to be carried into the 21st century.

And the market today? The global logistics market can be quantified at up to $450bn p.a. growing at up to 3%. p.a. in the long term. The market is very fragmented: The top 10 Sea Freight Forwarders have a combined market share of 9%. The top 10 Air Freight Forwarders have a combined market share of 26%. And despite the size and maturity of the market, the deep integration into the value chain: digital solutions and tools can be counted on one hand, manual handling is still standard. Forto has come a long way — and the cake is still enormous. In the final quarters of 2020, Forto grew its volumes by 300 percent year over year.

And today?

And that brings us to the here and now. Forto has just announced their new $240 million funding round. The round is led by Softbank. The valuation of the company: $1.2 billion. That makes Forto Cavalry’s first unicorn.

If you ask me how I feel about this news, I can tell you this:

I find this news freaking amazing and extremely touching! And: I wouldn’t have expected it any other way. They did everything right from the beginning and it carries through. The leadership team of Michael Wax, Erik Muttersbach and Michael Ardelt is focused, driven, they don’t rest, they keep going, they are humble, they are responsive, they are simply professional. They live customer centricity, they have built a fantastic team, and they have brought on board suitable and solid investors at every stage they have gone through.

Well done, congrats and fair winds and following seas, Forto!

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Cavalry Ventures

Cavalry Ventures

We make early-stage investments in teams who question the status quo and think big. Here, we share our insights on all things tech.