North Texas-Based Air Cargo Startup Aircon Raises $3.3M on Heels of $4.5M Funding in June

The Flower Mound-headquartered logistics startup says it's "disrupting the $270 billion airfreight market" by consolidating air cargo shipments via AI and machine learning. The $3.3M seed round led by Underscore VC will allow Aircon to invest in "deeper partnerships across the air cargo and freight markets," the company said, along with other strategies.

Aircon—a logistics startup that says it’s “disrupting the $270 billion airfreight market” with shared airfreight gateways—announced this week the closing of a $3.3 seed round led by Underscore VC. The new funding round of will allow Aircon to invest in “deeper partnerships across the air cargo and freight markets,” the company said, as well as in global gateway expansion, growing its AI tech infrastructure, and attracting top talent.

Aircon’s latest seed round follows a June 2023 venture raise of $4,584,998, according to Crunchbase, which cited an SEC Form D filing.

Headquartered in the DFW suburb of Flower Mound, Aircon says it aims to speed up what it sees as “the slow pace of adoption of artificial intelligence technology in the logistics industry”—and has itself adopted the name “AirconAI” on LinkedIn and in its website URL.

Through its network of shared air freight gateways, Aircon combines shipments leveraging AI and machine learning to consolidate cargo heading to the same destination. It does this while optimizing space on aircraft, the company said—enabling forwarders of all sizes “to have access to consolidation options worldwide, creating operating efficiencies and improving margins.”

Aircon says its solution enables businesses, e-commerce platforms, and retailers to access “more affordable and efficient shipping capabilities, streamline their supply chain, reduce transportation expenses, provide faster and more reliable delivery services, and improve overall operational efficiency.”

For airlines, Aircon’s consolidation approach helps fill underutilized cargo space, maximizing cargo loads and driving increased revenue and cost savings, the company says—adding that this “improves profitability and enables stakeholders to offer more transparency and competitive pricing to their customers.”

‘Challenging the status quo’ in the air cargo space

Aircon CEO Chris Condon says he founded the startup in 2021 “to allow forwarders of all sizes access to consolidation options worldwide with a unified goal toward giving the freight forwarders they partner with a competitive edge.”

“We’re challenging the status quo of long-term dominance by large, established players and offering small and medium forwarders a seat at the table for the very first time,” Condon added in a statement. “Through consolidation, we’re in a unique position to contribute to the long-term growth and sustainability in the air cargo space.”

The company’s co-founder is Irl Wakefield, who serves as VP of operations and who, together with Condon, has decades of experience in air transportation and global logistics. Dennis Oleksyuk joined the team as CTO in 2022, bringing “deep data science expertise” after spending the previous five years as VP of engineering and director of engineering at Boston-based DataRobot.

Calling itself the industry’s first digital platform that enables consolidation across the entire air freight market, Aircon said it provides an instant quote and simplifies the entire air freight booking, monitoring, and cost cutting process. The company’s algorithms pool shipments that combine dense and voluminous cargo to achieve the master consolidation available—with the “net effect” of savings passed back to the freight forwarder.

Funder sees Aircon as solving ‘painful problems’

John Pearce, a co-founder and partner at Underscore VC, said his firm was “blown away” by the depth of Aircon’s knowledge of the airfreight industry along with their vision of how to digitize it.

“The Aircon team has a unique combination of deep airfreight experience paired with data science expertise that will help to capture the large opportunity ahead,” Pearce said in a statement. “As firm supporters of uniquely qualified founders solving painful problems, we’re proud to back the Aircon team and lead their seed round.”

Aircon is setting big goals for itself. To reach an annual revenue of $100 million, the company says it will need to move around 136 million pounds of air freight, “a mere 1.1% of the total air freight handled by non-top-10 freight forwarders in the U.S. today.”

‘Leveled the playing field’

One Aircon customer, Erik Koistinen, VP of international operations at Delta Express, said his company has seen significant savings through the company.

“Before we started working with Aircon, we couldn’t compete on the air freight side of the logistics business,” Kostinen said in an Aircon news release. “Aircon has leveled the playing field and the air cargo market will be transformed as a result. Using a shared gateway system has brought down costs by 37%, increased efficiency and reliability, and eliminated wasted dollars and time.”

Comments on recent Omni Logistics merger

Writing on LinkedIn, Aircon CEO Condon commented on the early August merger of Dallas-based Omni Logistics and Tennessee-based Forward Air Corp

“This strategic partnership not only enhances Forward Air’s capabilities but also establishes a pioneering model for the shifting dynamics of the market,” Condon wrote. “Interestingly, this move also positions Forward Air as a direct competitor to a substantial segment of its customer base.”

“Examining this acquisition in the context of other prominent freight forwarders, it becomes evident that comprehending your vendor, their ownership, and investments holds paramount importance,” Condon added. “The rationale is straightforward: DATA carries a significance far beyond what many might realize. The spotlight is firmly on harnessing data as a pivotal competitive advantage. Forward Air’s strategic expansion through this acquisition underscores their forward-looking stance, anticipated to redefine how we perceive and engage with freight logistics.”

“As we journey ahead, there is no doubt that this acquisition will stand as a noteworthy case study in the ongoing evolution of logistics partnerships, leaving a profound imprint on the broader tapestry of the supply chain ecosystem.”

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