Why we invested in MVMNT

This week we publicly disclosed our investment in MVMNT. The company helps shippers and carriers manage the full shipment lifecycle via one end-to-end platform.

Chicago has a rich history of success in logistics with companies like Coyote, Echo, CH Robinson and newer folks in the tech space like Project44 and FourKites. As someone who does not have deep knowledge of logistics, but gets bothered when a store is out of something I’d like, I was eager to learn more about this sector. I was astonished to find out that over two-thirds of communications in this sector will still done via phone, email and paper. There’s obviously much efficiency to be had!

One of the best experiences I’ve had as an investor is getting to know the founder and CEO, Michael Colin. He’s the reason we made this investment. Michael and his team did 3 things that I love:

  1. Michael, learned and grew between each conversation we had. He came prepared for each meeting with specific asks for me, got the answers, then ran with them. Michael is incredibly humble and not ashamed to ask what something means when he doesn’t understand it. I admire this quality greatly. I remember pitching a VC many years ago when he asked me for a cohort analysis, and I confidently said, “Sure, I’ll send that over tomorrow.” Moments later, I was frantically Googling what a cohort analysis was. Admitting that you don’t know something and asking about it, to me, is a great sign of confidence and curiosity.
  2. The team pre-sold software before it was built. In SaaS, one of the very best ways to test if you have product-market fit, is to see if people will buy your product. The team was able to sell their SaaS solution to several similar companies prior to launch. Too many companies build something that few people want or need, then iterate from there. They don’t do proper customer development and it ends up costing that company critical time and money. By selling software in advance, MVMNT was able to know what customers were willing to pay, why, and ultimately help fund the development.
  3. Michael left a cushy job to build the software he wish he had. People refer to this as “scratching your own itch.” I speak to many aspiring entrepreneurs and they often ask about what types of companies they should start. I usually respond with “Don’t!” To me, entrepreneurship is like being an artist. We have to create something because we want to solve a particular problem so badly. We wake up in the middle of the night writing down notes or ideas. Yes, if you successfully solve that problem for enough people there are financial rewards, but it has nothing to do with why we start companies. Some may say that it’s risky to leave a nice job to start a company. To me, it could be riskier to stay. Life is short, go solve the problems you want to solve.

It was fun partnering with Michael on his pitch and strategy. It’s even more fun to watch him and the team fly. I’m thankful to Aaron Rankin of Rankin Family Ventures, Victor Gutwein of M25 and Jeff Eschbach of Chicago Early Growth Ventures for joining this ride. I believe this could be a really exciting team and company to watch.

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