I was about to jump out of my steel-toed boots with excitement. As an 18-wheeler pulled up to the gatehouse next to us, I took out my iPhone to start filming. I yelled, “He’s pulling onto the weighbridge!”
Most people probably wouldn’t be quite so excited by a ritual that occurs a million times a day at mines, smelters, warehouses and factories around the world. For me, the journey to this gatehouse had begun two years ago when my soon-to-be-cofounder Scott Evans asked me a seemingly simple question: “Why can I track shoes I ordered for my daughter every step of their journey to my house, but when I ship a truck of of copper worth $200,000 from New Orleans to Indiana, I have no idea if it’s arrived — or even if it’s shipped?”
Over the past two years Scott, Andrea, Sweeney, and I, along with a growing team of extraordinary colleagues, have been working to answer that question. What makes the problem so complicated to solve is that it is actually hard to get anyone to agree what it means to track a shipment. Does it mean tracking the specific lot of copper that was mined or aluminum that was cast, associating all of the origin and chemical composition data from the assay, through the metal’s journey on water, rail, and road to the furnace? Or perhaps it means the financial journey — from documentary presentation, provisional invoices, quotational period, and eventual payment. Or maybe it meant the physical location of the truck, railcar, or vessel at a particular point in time? Or the current inventory in each warehouse, consignment location, and yard?
The power of Waybridge is that we can manage these complex supply chains in all of these ways. We combine the financial, the logistical, and the technological supply chain into a single transactional platform that can answer the most important questions for everyone in the supply chain: Am I going to have enough inventory of various brands, blends, and types to keep my plant running? Am I properly hedged between my purchases and sales? How do I schedule with my customers and suppliers to minimize my financing and working capital cost? What do I do when something unexpected happens like an ice storm in Texas or a ship stuck in the Suez Canal (both of which have impacted our customers so far this year)?
All of this clicked for me when I walked through the factory gate and I saw the copper cathode blocked and braced on the truck; saw it unloaded on forklifts from that trailer and zoomed over to the furnace; saw the beautiful, shiny copper wire rod spooling out of the end of the mill. This is physical commodities: the incredibly complicated supply chain that transforms ore in a mine in Arizona into the very fabric of everything electronic on the planet from our homes to our phones to our cars. Our way of life depends on our ability to buy, sell, finance and ultimately consume raw materials more efficiently, resiliently, and sustainably — and that’s our mission at Waybridge.
I’m excited to announce that this week we have closed a $30 million series B financing led by Rucker Park with participation from Craft and Venrock. This round will accelerate the development of the Waybridge platform and help us expand into new materials, new geographies and new markets.
I would like to say a special thank you to our initial customers who have been incredible thought partners with us over the past 18 months. I would also like to express my deep admiration and appreciation for the Waybridge team, each of whom I feel fortunate to work with every single day.