“We are helping the biggest brands and logistics companies deliver more sustainably at scale”- a Q&A with Jonathan Weber, CEO and Co-Founder of Urbantz
Founded in 2015, Urbantz is a last-mile delivery management platform for enterprises designed to respond to the delivery needs of retailers, logistics operators, e-commerce, grocery players, among others. Urbantz provides an enterprise SaaS solution for real-time visibility and complete control over the entire last-mile delivery chain.
Tell us about Urbantz and your company’s mission?
In a nutshell, Urbantz is a cloud platform for enterprises that empowers them to better manage their last mile delivery operations. The last mile is a very specific part of the logistics supply chain taken to mean the scheduled movement of goods from their last stock location to the end recipient or collection point.
The reason we play in this very specialised field is tied intrinsically to our mission, which is to help the biggest brands and logistics companies deliver more sustainably at scale. Even though the last mile is the shortest leg of the journey, it accounts for as much as half of all supply chain costs because it’s so complex and hard to predict. It’s also a major source of CO2 emissions and is the area where we’ve always felt that Urbantz can have the biggest positive impact.
More than 100 retail, grocery, ecommerce and logistics brands — including Auchan, Westwing, Carrefour, PostNord, Asda, Metro Group, Cora, the S-Group and Majid Al Futtaim — use Urbantz every day to manage mission-critical deliveries across EMEA and beyond.
The Urbantz platform is designed specifically to give the largest enterprises the clarity and control they need to improve efficiency and cut emissions. With us, they can allocate deliveries smartly across multiple fleets and carriers, optimise for the use of electric and two-wheel vehicles, configure unique delivery workflows and ensure consistent delivery experiences that are high quality and on brand.
How have you/the business navigated the past year and what is one lesson you’ve learned from that experience?
The pandemic brought a massive influx in demand for deliveries as stores closed and consumers were forced to do all their shopping from home. In just a few months, the industry jumped forward by as much as 5–10 years as retailers suddenly realised the need for more robust last mile management solutions. As a result in 2020, Urbantz enjoyed massive growth and was third in Deloitte’s 2020 FAST 50.
Going through such a transformational change would be impressive under the best of scenarios, but doing so while adapting to the new work-from-home realities of the pandemic? It’s a testament to the quality, commitment and ingenuity of the team we’ve managed to build here.
As a business, we’ve embraced flexible working, opening up our recruitment processes to attract and retain the best talent. For us, hybrid working is here to stay. What we’ve seen is that new team members have managed to join Urbantz and help drive that growth, all without ever meeting one another face to face. The biggest takeaway for me is to trust in the talent. It’s our number one resource.
On the customer side, the pandemic revealed just how ill-equipped many brands were to scale their delivery operations in such a short space of time. That’s where we were able to help them, facilitating processes with our platform such as the rapid integration of new carriers to expand their delivery networks, onboarding of more drivers and creation of contactless delivery flows, plus much more.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to aspiring and new founders?
You can’t overstate the importance of being flexible. Our whole reality just changed overnight. And in many ways, conventional wisdom on how to properly run a successful business went out the window. It turns out companies can run just as efficiently with a remote workforce and decentralised infrastructure. So you alway have to have an open mind to new ways of thinking.
Some new founders think that inflexibility is a virtue and that single-mindedness is the key to success. But the smartest people know how to adapt to changing realities while still staying true to their values and objectives. To paraphrase Jeff Bezos, be stubborn on vision but flexible on the details.
Why is sustainability core to your business and operations?
Sustainability has been at the heart of Urbantz since its inception. You can certainly say it’s a vision that we are stubborn about! Back in 2015, myself and the other co-founders Michel Darchambeau and Mélanie Applincourt came together to answer the question of how to deliver sustainably at scale. After realising that we had a common goal and that there were no viable existing solutions, we decided to build it ourselves.
To understand why sustainability is so important to us, you only need to consider the statistics. Emissions from last mile deliveries are set to grow by 30% in the next ten years, despite growing pressure from governments and consumers for companies to commit to greener practices. But many of these pledges are decades from coming to fruition. And in the meantime, we’re left with imperfect answers, such as carbon offsetting, which only kicks the problem down the road.
The platform that we’ve built and the features we continue to develop are designed to equip the biggest brands responsible for the most deliveries with the tools to deliver tangible improvements in CO2 reduction today. Some examples of this in practice:
● Intelligent time slot booking that can rank delivery time slots by their environmental impact and prompt eco-minded consumers to book the most sustainable delivery windows
● The ability of our algorithms to optimise for eco-friendly deliveries across fleets and vehicle types
● An AI-powered assistant that uses smartphone sensors to analyse a courier’s driving behaviour and provide guidance on how to lower vehicle emissions
What are your plans for the remainder of 2021?
To continue scaling our operations and growing our team, as we close in on our short-term target of consolidating our position as the number one last mile delivery management platform in Europe.
We’re anticipating our next funding round later this year and that will help us to further accelerate our growth, winning more customers throughout EMEA and beyond, and further enhancing our platform with new features based on the changing needs of our customers.
Looking further ahead, where do you see opportunities for Urbantz in the next five to ten years?
Around the world, and across Europe in particular, the pressure on enterprises to improve the sustainability of their operations will only intensify in the face of increasing legislation and new consumer attitudes.
At the same time, rocketing demand for last mile deliveries threatens to congest our cities with more traffic and emissions. The World Economic Forum estimates that demand for urban deliveries will grow by 78% in the next decade, leading to 36% more delivery vehicles across the world’s largest cities and adding 11 minutes to the typical commute.
Urbantz will be able to deliver real value to our enterprise customers in the next ten years by finding new and smarter ways to balance these conflicting demands.
How has the ETF Partners support helped shape the business?
Thanks to the series A funding support from ETF Partners, Urbantz has been able to massively accelerate its growth journey. In December, ETF Partners, together with Urbantz’ other shareholders, decided to double their initial investment to €12 million, in recognition of the unprecedented growth that we achieved throughout 2020.
That extra funding has allowed us to further invest in two areas that are key to the future health of the business: talent acquisition and product innovation.
We’re incredibly grateful to ETF Partners for the faith they have in Urbantz. Their financial backing has been critical to the huge successes we have achieved up to now and continues enabling us to drive greater sustainability at scale in last mile delivery options.
Learn more about how Urbantz is changing the landscape of last mile deliveries and driving sustainability at scale at urbantz.com