South African Parcel Shipping Platform TUNL Secures $1 Million in Pre-Seed Funding
In a significant development for the South African logistics sector, TUNL, a parcel shipping platform, has successfully raised $1 million in pre-seed funding from a group of investors that includes Founders Factory Africa, Digital Africa Ventures, E4E Africa, and Jozi Angels.
TUNL, founded in 2022 by CEO Matthew Davey and COO Craig Lowman, aims to revolutionize cross-border shipping for e-commerce merchants.
The platform asserts that it can help these businesses achieve substantial savings, ranging from 50% to 80%, on international shipping costs.
The recently secured funding is earmarked for accelerating TUNL's expansion within its primary market, South Africa, and establishing a foundation for its introduction into other crucial African and emerging markets.
Davey, drawing from his experience as the managing director of a Dutch company importing South African engineering materials into Europe, identified the challenges of a cumbersome and costly shipping process.
In an interview with TechCrunch, he highlighted the broader issue of exorbitant shipping costs faced by smaller businesses in emerging markets like South Africa.
A pressing concern for TUNL's founders was the estimated $50 billion annual cost that African businesses incur due to challenges in cross-border shipping, hindering potential opportunities.
During the pandemic, small- and medium-sized South African merchants faced a recurring issue where shipping costs sometimes exceeded the value of their products.
This problem extended across various product categories, including textiles, clothing, footwear, camera accessories, and specialized components.
TUNL responded to this challenge by setting up its own economy courier service to the USA and forming strategic partnerships with global courier giants like UPS and FedEx.
This initiative aims to reduce shipping costs for SMEs by an impressive 50% to 75%.
Craig Lowman emphasized TUNL's commitment to transparency and equality, stating, "Our pricing is completely transparent and democratized. We want to ensure that every business, large or small, can have an equal chance to convert overseas sales by reducing the cost of shipping as much as possible."
On the TUNL platform, merchants now have the ability to provide customers with various shipping options during checkout.
This includes an "economy" courier option with shipping costs starting as low as $10 from South Africa to the USA, albeit with a slightly longer delivery time of approximately 10 to 14 days.
Additionally, customers can choose faster shipping options, delivered within a week, through partnerships with FedEx or UPS at more reasonable costs than they could obtain individually.
This approach enhances flexibility and holds the potential to improve conversion rates, with exact prices varying based on destination and weight, according to Davey.
Tage Kene-Okafor / TechCrunch