23. 6. 2021

CEZ Group Fund Inven Capital has the first unicorn: the world number one venture capital fund Softbank and US Citibank have invested USD 240 million in the Forto start-up

The Berlin company Forto, whose last round of $ 50 million funding was led by the CEZ Group's Inven Capital fund last autumn, has now achieved a valuation over $ 1.2 billion, becoming a so-called unicorn after five years of existence. The rapidly growing start-up in logistics has received $ 240 million from experienced global players such as Softbank, Citibank or G Squared, and current investors are increasing their investments in the company. Forto operates in Europe and Asia, has about 2,500 customers and over 500 employees. By 2025, Forto wants all transport to be climate neutral.

The German company Forto, a leading digital freight forwarder, especially in ocean transport, has attracted global funds led by the Japanese giant Softbank, which in the past has supported companies such as Uber, Alibaba or the Slack communication platform. Together with the venture capital funds of Citibank (investing primarily in financial services) and G Squared (investments such as Bolt, SpaceX and Coursera) and existing investors, including Inven Capital, they are investing more than $ 200 million in Forto, raising its valuation above one billion dollars. Such startup companies are called "unicorns" in investor jargon.

"Inven Capital has repeatedly proved they have a good investment strategy. They assess hundreds of companies a year, selecting two or three for investment. The companies in our portfolio often attract global players and have a solid profit on our investments. As a bonus, we also keep track of new technologies and smart solutions, which is a competitive advantage in the energy sector," said Tomáš Pleskač, Member of the Board of Directors and Director of the New Energy Division. CEZ Group's investment fund Inven Capital joined Forto last November, investing $ 50 million in the start-up together with existing and new investors. Inven also increased their investment in Forto in the current round. On both occasions, Inven´s co-investor was the European Investment Bank.

"Coming across a unicorn is every investor's dream, so I'm very happy that Inven Capital has succeeded. Despite several months of crisis in international transport, Forto is growing by 100% year on year and guarantees customers transparency and flexibility. The potential for further growth is great: Forto is expanding in Europe and Asia, and their team attracts experienced experts from technology companies in Silicon Valley. All this with the vision of simplifying international transport and making it greener," adds Petr Míkovec, CEO of Inven Capital.

“In our effort to further digitize global trade, we plan to significantly expand our geographical footprint, technology platform, and customer operations, to cement our market leadership in Europe and beyond,” adds Michael Wax, CEO and Co-Founder of Forto.

This Spring, Forto announced its goal to offer its customers only 100% climate-neutral transport of goods since 2025. They measure and analyze the carbon footprint of each order, focusing on increasing efficiency to keep emissions to a minimum, and help customers to compensate unavoidable CO2 emissions through certified climate projects. Forto's services are currently used by over 2,500 customers from industry (eg heating, industrial and cooling systems manufacturer Viessmann), wholesale and retail (eg Miele or the Zero fashion chain) and e-commerce (eg Home24). The digital platform works with real-time data, achieving a high degree of punctuality and at the same time reducing the administrative costs of companies related to the supply chain by almost a third.

CEZ Group has entrusted 190 million euros to its Inven Capital fund. Its successful investment strategy at the end of 2017 caught attention of the European Investment Bank, which provided Inven Capital with 50 million euros to manage a joint investment platform. Inven Capital invested a total of 130 million euros (CZK 3.4 billion) in the period 2015-2020 and allocated a further roughly 70 million euros (less than CZK 2 billion) to additional investments in the existing portfolio, which will be implemented in the coming years.