Voyager: An Inside Look at Our Largest Investment to Date
It was late 2018 when I first came across Voyager. Phaze Ventures was on the hunt for technology startups looking to transform global industries largely operating in analog, data-less environments where the potential for disruption through digitization, automation and data-driven decision making was high. Sifting through the announcement of the 2018 cohort of Techstars Energy Program in Oslo, one of our team members who was a mentor for the program (shoutout to Eric Brotto) forwarded the profile of a young software startup in the shipping industry to myself and the other partners at Phaze Ventures.
We were soon in touch with Matthew Costello and Bret Smart who had just teamed up earlier that same year to co-found Voyager, a data-driven SaaS platform built to transform the world of non-containerized shipping. A few short calls later and we were convinced they were on to something no one else was solving for. Within weeks both Matt and Bret were on a flight to Muscat where we had lined up meetings with several of the corporate partners we work closely with.
During their visit, sitting in on meetings, and over lunches and dinners, we found ourselves in a crash course on the world of shipping. We learned 90% of global trade is transported by sea, the majority of which is non-containerized. Each year, this amounted to a spend of over $450 billion transporting raw materials and manufactured goods across the ocean, from natural gas to agricultural products to wind turbines and everything in between. More importantly, we learned that shipowners, brokers, agents, surveyors, producers, traders and terminals worldwide largely ran their communications and operations on an opaque mesh of phone calls, emails and excel spreadsheets.
In short, the marine supply chain touches everything you do; and transforming it through digitization of workflows, automation of repetitive tasks and data-driven decision making tools could positively impact businesses around world.
Needless to say we were intrigued, and by early 2019 Phaze Ventures had joined Voyager as an early investor and the company closed a $1.5 million seed round. Matthew, Bret and now a growing but small team were hard at work building out their product and working closely with early adopters.
Less than a year later, with several early customers signed-on including GE and OMV, Covid-19 exploded onto the world stage. Companies were going remote, everything needed to be digital, and global supply chains were about to be put to their toughest test yet. It was exactly the future Voyager was being built for. The company expanded its' sales 13x from Q3 2020 to Q3 2021, their thesis was confirmed: businesses were rapidly seeking to reduce risk, increase efficiency and gain key data-driven insights across their marine supply chain improve their decision making.
The team was ready to expand, and over a couple conference calls with Matthew and team an $8.4 million Series-A term sheet was put together. The round was to be lead by Phaze Ventures, and was soon joined by ScopVC, Flexport and a number of other investors.
As of Q4 2021, Voyager surpassed the $1 billion-mark for freight managed on the platform, and I had joined Matthew and Brett on the board. Looking forward, the future for the business could not be more exciting. In addition to GE and OMV, the platform now services Koch, Equinor, Invista and dozens more.
Not only is the active user-base expanding, but so is the team! Their physical offices currently include Houston and Brazil, with international travel and remote working opportunities as well. I would highly encourage anyone looking for an exciting new challenge to consider joining the Voyager team. You can find their current openings (including in US, UK and Brazil) here:
And for more information on how Voyager platform can transform your business, visit:
About Phaze Ventures
Established in 2018, Phaze Ventures is the first private venture capital firm in the Sultanate of Oman, founded to fund early-stage disruptive technology companies from around the globe, and accelerate the transformation of the region’s economies through early-stage investments and strategic partnerships.
The firm manages $30 million, targeting early-stage startups in MENA, Europe and North America, with investments from the country’s largest investors, including Oman Information and Communications Technology Group (part of the sovereign fund of Oman), Ominvest and several prominent family offices.
Phaze Ventures' current investments include eMushrif, Carzaty, and Voyager, and is headed by its three co-founders: Abdullah Al-Shaksy, co-founder and CEO, Mohammed Al-Wahaibi, co-founder and partner, and Masoud Al-Rawahi, co-founder and partner. The team is also supported by a diverse group of advisors with leadership experience at global technology firms including Amazon, Siri, and Spotify.