Egyptian startup Trella, a digital platform connecting truckers with freight loads, has raised $42 million in equity and debt, including from the venture capital arm of shipping giant Maersk, its chief executive said.
Founded three years ago in Cairo, Trella operates in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. It is one of several technology firms around the world seeking to upend traditional truck brokerages.
Through Trella's online platform, shippers and truckers can directly book freight loads for transport. The mobile app also provides shippers with the ability to track the freight loads as they are transported.
Maersk Growth, which has invested in truck brokerage tech startups in the United States and Australia, co-led the $30 million equity portion with Saudi Arabian investor Raed Ventures.
The $12 million debt portion was provided by Lendable and other financial institutions, said Trella, who until now had only previously raised $1 million.
"We have big ambitions to become the most impactful startup in the region," Trella Chief Executive Omar Hagrass told Reuters.
Hagrass, who among other Trella staff formerly worked for Uber, declined to disclose the company's new valuation but said he believed Trella was now one of Egypt's most valuable tech startups.
Trukker, a similar tech logistics startup present in 10 Middle East countries including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, raised $23 million in 2019.
Trella has over 350 shippers registered on the app, including beverage maker Coca-Cola and Maersk, and more than 15,000 mostly independent truck drivers, according to the company.
"They have the understanding of what you need to do to help the driver but also the pricing mechanism that is needed to make it work," Maersk Growth Partner Jeppe Hoier told Reuters of Trella.
The $42 million would be used to expand in the Gulf Arab region beyond Saudi Arabia over the next 6-9 months and in East and West Africa over the next 12 months, Hagrass said.
Trella would also hire more staff to support its expansion, including for technical and product related jobs in places like Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates.
Hagrass said Trella could go public in the next three to five years, likely outside Egypt.
(Reuters reporting by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)