Mapping and logistics startup NextBillion raises $6.25M

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NextBillion, a geospatial data startup that provides software-as-a-service products for enterprises, today announced that it raised $6.25 million from M12, Microsoft’s Venture Fund. M12’s investment extends NextBillion’s 2020 $7 million series  A funding from Lightspeed and FalconEdge, bringing the company’s total to date to $13.25 million.

Geospatial analysis involves gathering, displaying, and acting on geographic information like imagery. It uses geographic coordinates and other identifiers to create models, which can include maps, graphs, and statistics. Geospatial maps can not only reveal historical changes, but shifts that are currently underway and even what might happen in the future.

NextBillion was cofounded in 2020 by Gaurav Bubna, Ajay Bulusu, and Shaolin Zhen, who were among the founding team of ride-hailing app Grab. NextBillion’s platform lets customers build custom maps for different users, as well as for unique use cases and geographies.

“NextBillion provides enterprise-grade, fully managed map data and APIs. Our product addresses the hyper-local nuances and provides tailor-made solutions for specific business needs, based on their data and geography,” a spokesperson told VentureBeat via email. “Our enterprise-grade mapping solutions and location data management platform has been tested in different geographies, including the U.S., Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Africa.”

NextBillion hosts algorithms that estimate time to arrival and routing delays, in addition to map tiles for web and mobile apps that combine public and proprietary data. The company also delivers AI-powered geocoding and search APIs designed to handle scenarios in transportation and logistics, plus turnkey map data solutions.

“Our belief is that enterprises of today collect tons of location data such as via smartphone GPS, onboard dashcams, satellite imagery, as well as sensors and other internet of things devices. We have built machine learning capabilities to efficiently extract geospatial intelligence from such sources of data,” the spokesperson explained. “Our AI-driven mapping platform has enabled use cases such as custom routing for escooters versus cars versus trucks versus trailers, the ability to incorporate local regulations which may affect each customer differently as opposed to one-map-fits-all, highly precise geocoding when dealing with unstructured addresses, and automated maintenance of custom map data layers for our customers … We provide downstream integrations with all standard mapping engines [and] partner with system integrator experts in the enterprise location application ecosystem to fill the gaps that can’t be served by existing solutions.”

Growth in logistics

Last-mile delivery logistics tend to be the most expensive and time-consuming part of the shipping process. According to one estimate, last-mile costs account for 53% of total shipping costs and 41% of total supply chain costs. With the rise of ecommerce in the U.S., retail providers are increasingly focusing on fulfilment and distribution at the lowest cost. Particularly in the construction industry, the pandemic continues to disrupt wholesalers — a 2020 Statista survey found that 73% of buyers and users of freight transportation and logistics services experienced an impact on their operations.

The global logistics market was worth $10.32 billion in 2017 and is estimated to grow to $12.68 billion by 2023, according to Research and Markets. Since its founding in 2020, NextBillion claims its customer base has grown to 15 ecommerce, logistics, food delivery, and grocery brands across 20 countries, mapped over 2.5 million miles, and handled over 20 billion API calls.

NextBillion, which employs more than 50 people in countries like Singapore, China, India and the U.S., says it worked with an Indian logistics tech brand for a mapping solution that could provide a freight-tracking experience for customers. The company claims that its custom map stack led to a four times reduction in latency, a 40% reduction in overall costs, and a 37% improvement in estimated time to arrival accuracy.

“Microsoft’s M12 will assist NextBillion in building a decentralized, tailored, and cost-effective mapping platform that delivers the highest level of performance,” the spokesperson said. “M12 elevates NextBillion access to global markets, offering validation as an early-stage software-as-a-service leader in geospatial technology stack … We are expecting a 5 times increase in our customer base this year and 4 times our annual revenues for 2021.”

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