In 2017, the US imported $2.4T in goods, and an exorbitant amount of time and money was wasted while the import documentation chugged along an inefficient process. Easing the logistical burden for importers and SMB freight forwarders, INLT has launched the first-of-its-kind cloud solution for customs clearance. Approved by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Homeland Security, the company’s platform seamlessly introduces all the functions of a regular customer broker and more, providing importers a cost-effective solution to optimize their supply chain. With $2.4T at stake, shaving a few hours of time and ensuring tariffs are paid properly, shipments are compliant, certified, and bonded, INLT is on its way to disrupting the logistics market.
LA TechWatch chatted with cofounder Caro Krissman about the company, its origin, future plans, and first round of funding.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
It was a Seed round of $1M from local Angels, family offices, and strategics. Notable investors are Michael Kaplan Jr., principal of Performance Team (one of the largest 3PL warehouses in the country), Bennet Dorrance family office, Doug Sumi, president of 686, and Arenda Capital management principals (Evan Meyer and Dusan Miletich).
Tell us about INLT.
INLT is a SaaS-enabled U.S. Customs brokerage and logistics management platform. We increase compliance with the government, improve visibility into imports, and save importers time and money.
I ran a sourcing firm and then a CPG brand for many years. A great deal of time and energy was spent managing and optimizing this process as well as money customizing ERP solutions. We did the work and handed it over on a silver platter to the customs broker, then got no value or visibility from there. My co-founders were licensed brokers, a trade attorney, and a software engineer, and we had a vision to make a big change in how this is done, incrementally.
How is INLT different?
A SaaS-enabled model has never been done in this industry and it’s the first 100% cloud-based application approved by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Homeland Security.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
All imports in the U.S. Both SMB and Enterprise importers of record (U.S. based and foreign) as well as SMB freight forwarders globally. There are ~30,000 importers of record and growing. Market size is in the trillions of USD.
What’s your business model?
Do you have some use cases or outcomes that you can share from users on how your platform has helped their operations?
Prime Resources is a customer that has gained significant operational and compliance benefits, among ~50 other early customers. They saved ~100K per year, improved compliance program with CBP, and saved their team ~500 man hours in the first year.
What was the funding process like?
A decent bit of educating the VC community, we were pre-product and received offers from one notable LA based early stage firm but decided to go with strategic and family office funds to move faster at a higher value with value (customer intros, industry expertise) being brought to the table. I invested pari passu and effectively set terms to move things along. We expect to raise another round toward the end of the year or early ’19.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Educating the market on what is a fairly boring space. Flexport is the notable VC backed business that has done a great job both in growth and fundraising
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Strength of the team, capital efficiency, large vision, and big market.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
Build more products, add more customers, and recruit more great engineers and BD people! The specifics we won’t make public but MRR consistent with a Series A will be achieved in the next six months.
What advice can you offer companies in Los Angeles that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
There are a lot of options, from debt, to bootstrap, Angel to VC, there is no single path.
What is your favorite restaurant in LA?
Here’s a few. For nostalgia, a stiff drink, great value, and vibe, Chey Jay. My parents would go there in the 70s and I have been going my whole life. Mexican, La Rez, best carnitas in town. Italian, Peppone.