You might be familiar with uShip without even realizing it. If you’ve ever caught a few minutes of A&E’s reality TV show “Shipping Wars,” then you’ve met uShip, the online marketplace where independent truckers can bid on shipping jobs. “Why would anyone make a show about shipping?” you ask. Watch the show and check out the human-sized hamster wheel that gets hauled to Milwaukie.
The company announced Wednesday that it has raised $18 million in a Series C round of funding from Kleiner Perkins. The new capital brings the company’s total raised to $28 million altogether. Previous investors include Benchmark Capital and DAG Ventures.
Now active in 18 countries across five continents, uShip focuses on freight, household goods, and vehicle shipping. Users can go on the site and post a job for large shipment, like a car or boat, and independent truckers can bid on the job, with the job going to the lowest bidder.
The company says that the most commonly shipped items vehicles, motorcycles, household goods, and heavy equipment, but they’ve gotten some weirder orders, including a Star Wars replica land speeder, a Huey helicopter, and two pallets of bat guano.
The company has partnered with eBay Motors and Ritchie Bros, but uShip Director of Communications Dean Jutilla says, “expect there to be a lot more traditional freight (pallets of stuff) moving through uShip in the coming year and beyond.”
UShip plans to use the new capital from this round to beef up its “Pro” platform, which allows shippers and brokers to build their own freight networks, invest in its mobile offerings, and expand its global footprint.
This is another great example of the peer-to-peer marketplace model disrupting unlikely industries. In “Window shopping: The rise of the new marketplace,” we discussed the popularity of sites like Airbnb, TaskRabbit, and CustomMade.com, and how they’re creating a demand that may not have been there before.
Shipping goes hand-in-hand with e-commerce and online retail. A similar service, Shutl, focuses on same-day deliveries of online orders. Shutl works with a network of same-day local courier companies, so when an order is placed, carriers can compete for deliveries by flexing their pricing options. The customer is then given a delivery price quote.
UShip has over 325,000 registered carriers and 1.6 million shipping customers.
“UShip is a proven marketplace model with fantastic traction across a number of transport categories,” said Maritza Liaw of Kleiner Perkins. “They are truly a disruptive player in shipping logistics, reducing friction for both shippers and transporters. We see a huge opportunity for growth in the commercial sector.”