📦 360 Stories: Cubyn, building the next-gen logistics champion

On-demand fulfillment startup Cubyn just announced a new round of financing, closing a 35M€ Series C round led by BPI Large Venture, Eurazeo-Idinvest, with new participations from First Bridge Venture, Fuse Venture Partners as well as from existing investors DN Capital, BPI VDD, BNP Développement and yours truly, 360 Capital. A perfect opportunity to celebrate our journey together! It all started in 2015, when Adrien and Mathieu were at the very beginning of their project… Read the full story below!

📦 But first: what does Cubyn do?

There’s no one better than Adrien Baca, CEO of the company, to describe the solution provided by Cubyn:

“We see a huge opportunity for a neutral, cost-effective, and efficient fulfillment network in the e-commerce space. Still today, there is no scalable, efficient logistics solution aside from the ones offered by siloed marketplaces. Cubyn is disrupting the traditional e-commerce third party logistics market from the ground up, offering a better, faster and cross-border service at a 30% lower price.”

Cubyn has built a new-generation logistics platform for e-commerce in Europe: it stores, picks packs and ships e-merchants products to end-customers. With this fulfillment play, Cubyn focuses on two things: reduce logistic costs by 30% and provide exceptional customer experience for e-merchants through painless logistics. How? It offers a one-stop-shop for all logistics needs, from managing inventory to shipping orders and analyzing performance.

📦 So how did it start?

Cubyn launched in 2014 under the name Goku. We first met the founders during a competition we co-organized with Partech as part of the 2015 France Digitale Tour. This competition offered a 500k€ seed ticket as a reward for the best pitching session: Cubyn won the prize in a final round against others candidates such as BackMarket and BrocanteLab (now Selency).

This first investment launched a fruitful collaboration, now going on 5 years. We were joined at the table by reknowned business angels, among which: Olivier Mathiot, cofounder and CEO of PriceMinister, Thierry Petit CEO and founder of Showroomprivé and Pascal Froux, cofounder and ex-CEO of Fermat (acquired by Moody’s). DN Capital joined the adventure, along with Bpifrance and BNP Développement, for the subsequent 5M€ Series A and 15M€ Series B.

Let’s look back at the rationale behind our investment in what turns out to be a game changer for the B2B logistics industry.

📦 Why we invested

B2B process automation is one of the pillars of our investment thesis. Cubyn, with its vision of driving business performance and efficiency, addressing a very specific pain in a fast growing market was a great fit.

So concretely, why did we invest? For what we value most in a startup: its team, and its product-market fit.

The two founders, Adrien Baca and Mathieu Lemaire, indeed possess what we feel are essential qualities for entrepreneurs: drive, deep industry knowledge, and execution capabilities. Adrien started as Head of Warehouse management for Jumia Egypt (Rocket Internet company and first African unicorn), structuring from A to Z the logistics processes for Egypt. His business background (HEC alumnus) complemented well Mathieu’s, who graduated in engineering from Centrale Paris. Mathieu had acted as a software engineer for Business Objects (now SAP) and cofounded two companies, SoKorpo and GetVega. More importantly, they found a way to surround themselves from the start with top talent who had proven themselves at companies such as Roland Berger, AramisAuto, Amazon and more, and became the key to building scalability and efficiency.

As for product-market fit, the thesis behind the first investment was that Cubyn could be the player removing complexity from logistics for e-merchants. Indeed, Cubyn targeted the e-commerce players that were too small to qualify for a dedicated logistics service, those who sent out 5 to 50 packages per day. Instead of having to face a myriad of third-parties to handle shipping, administrative issues, returns, packing, order taking, etc., e-merchants could now rely on Cubyn to pick, pack, and sort their unpacked products, and deliver them to their end-customers. To go into comparisons, e-merchants would have Stripe for payments, Parse for backend, and now Cubyn for logistics. This promise was all the more enticing in that it was backed by state of the art algorithms and data-driven technology.

📦 360 Capital & Cubyn: in it for the long run

Actually, Cubyn’s story can be parted in two phases around a key pivot in mid 2019: Phase 1, which was all about first mile logistics (Pick Pack Ship); and Phase 2, with a switch to fulfillment which positioned Cubyn as a full-stack logistics player.

We invested at Phase 1, when the business was a hyper-local one. Cubyn had strong penetration in the Ile-de-France market, but scalability slowly became an issue as pickers would have to be massively deployed for every new geography. Indeed, in the initial business model, the product was picked directly from the clients’ facilities before being injected into the delivery system.

Cubyn sensed that a shift was imperative. The market seemed to think so too: emerging marketplaces came with a clear and fast-growing need for dedicated services of logistics and shipping for vendors. Historical players stayed in their lane, relying on transportation instead of pure software, so that left a boulevard for next-generation players to smooth out workflows and seamlessly integrate with the thousands of marketplaces that wanted to compete against Amazon and FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon).

We brainstormed quite a lot together before taking the plunge of Phase 2 and pivoting. Cubyn climbed up the value chain to offer stocking possibilities to e-merchants, just like an FBA model. With storing, Cubyn now provides a whole new range of services, such as inventory management, orders shipping, issues solving, invoice reconciliation: it has now become much more than a picking and shipping solution, to offer a complete fulfillment solution. Its self-operated warehouse now serves major marketplaces such as BackMarket, Rakuten, Mirakl or Fnac, as well as top e-commerce players such as Fittrack and Chef Club. Concretely, fulfillment revenue grew by 8x for 2020, validating the new business model.

360 Capital supported Cubyn in this perilous shift: seed companies often have to endure a pivot to survive, and what they most need in these periods are investors who have the courage to keep on supporting them by refinancing them. The new 35M€ round is proof that we were right to do so: Cubyn, which started as a small line in our portfolio, has now grown into one of its most promising.

📦 What now?

The team has now set its eyes abroad: it’s looking to support more pan-European players which ship all across Europe; and for that it will open new hubs, starting with Spain and Portugal launching in April 2021, followed by Italy, UK and Germany. The goal is to maximize cost optimization and lead time coverage with a fully European network. The new frontier will be in center automation and will be cracked through AI, that will bring automation on repetitive tasks, and will improve productivity in processing centres (a topic we’ve been addressing with other portfolio companies too).

So cheers to Cubyn and to our continued collaboration!

Article by Selma Gasc @360 Capital

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