The Toronto delivery startup GoBolt has raised its second round of venture financing in just over a year, bringing in a pair of public-sector investors as it seeks to become a North American leader in emissions-reducing logistics services.
The $75-million financing, announced Wednesday, is all new capital, chief executive officer Mark Ang said in an interview. Formally named Bolt Technologies Inc., the company conducts deliveries for brands that include IKEA, Structube and Frank and Oak.
The investment arm of IKEA parent Ingka Holding BV is returning for the round, as is co-lead investor Yaletown Venture Partners and numerous other past financiers. New investor Export Development Canada is the other co-leader, and the Business Development Bank of Canada has joined the financing.
GoBolt has gone through some seismic shifts in recent years, pivoting from a consumer-focused storage company called Second Closet to focus on delivery, warehousing and supply chain services, including tracking and route-planning software. Its initial rebrand name was Bolt, but that’s also the name of a European super-app developer.
The Toronto company has spent the 13 months since its last $115-million round expanding into five U.S. metropolitan areas and building out a fleet of electric vehicles from suppliers such as Ford Motor Co.’s E-Transit vans and Lion Six trucks from Lion Electric Co. in Montreal.
Mr. Ang has ambitious goals for GoBolt’s new capital. On top of refining its logistics software and investing in warehouse automation, he wants a full 90 per cent of deliveries to be conducted by EVs by the end of next year, up from just over 20 per cent this year.
As the corporate world decarbonizes at a glacial pace, Mr. Ang said he believes GoBolt is better positioned than traditional delivery firms to become less fossil-fuel intensive, because it’s investing in its own EVs from the start. Many traditional delivery companies contract out a large portion of their deliveries to third-party providers. GoBolt believes they are less incentivized to upgrade to EVs, given the high upfront costs and the lag in amortization schedules for existing vehicles.
Though GoBolt has some combustion-engine vehicles in its fleet, it now primarily rents them until it can build out its electric fleet to match demand. And until the world’s battery-charging infrastructure matures, Mr. Ang said be believes the longest 10 per cent of GoBolt’s deliveries will need to be done by combustion vehicles.
“The industry is extremely antiquated,” Mr. Ang said. “When you are bringing something new to the table … it captures the attention of chief operating offers and chief financial officers.”
Eric Bukovinsky, a partner at returning investor Yaletown Partners, said in an e-mail that GoBolt’s U.S. expansion had helped it better serve large enterprise customers, making it an easy decision to reinvest. “We saw incredible growth at scale coupled with a high degree of visibility going forward with respect to customers and volumes,” he said.
GoBolt declined to reveal specific growth figures, but said that its revenue had more than doubled in 2022 from 2021. Mr. Ang added that its valuation rose a “significant” amount with the new financing round. This bucks the current trend for tech companies. Many of them have raised new financing rounds at the same valuation as previous rounds or a lower one, as they grapple with the sector’s continuing downturn.
Mr. Ang said GoBolt had so far avoided the perils that have affected many e-commerce companies, in which big bets on growth early in the COVID-19 pandemic largely did not pan out. He also said his company has not laid off anyone in connection with current market conditions.
Though GoBolt does some small-parcel delivery, Mr. Ang said the pivot last year to partnering with larger brands, beyond just online orders, had “luckily” helped the company skirt the sector’s shortcomings.
“We’re in the storm,” he said, but “we’re getting to this altitude above the clouds, where there are certainly bluer skies, less choppy weather – more volume that we can plan around and invest around, while this other segment is unfortunately seeing a return to the norm.”
GoBolt operates in markets that include Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Houston, Miami, Atlanta and New York.