South African shipping startup TUNL raises $1m pre-seed
South African parcel shipping platform TUNL has recently secured $1 million in pre-seed funding from notable investors, including Founders Factory Africa, Digital Africa Ventures, E4E Africa, and Jozi Angels. This funding will play a crucial role in facilitating TUNL's expansion within South Africa and setting the stage for its entry into other key African and emerging markets.
Established in 2022 by CEO Matthew Davey and COO Craig Lowman, TUNL was inspired by Davey's firsthand experience as the managing director of a Dutch company that imported South African engineering materials into Europe. Facing substantial challenges and high shipping costs, Davey recognized the pervasive issue of exorbitant shipping expenses, particularly for smaller businesses in emerging markets like South Africa.
The two-year-old e-commerce platform generates revenue by taking margins on orders placed through its platform. TUNL manages a diverse array of products, ranging from backpacks, fashion footwear, arts and crafts, books, nanofiber materials, and high-performance springs to various types of furniture, musical instruments, and nonperishable items like cosmetics.
Cross-border shipping challenges cost African businesses around $50 billion annually in missed opportunities. TUNL has adopted a distinctive approach to address the high shipping costs faced by South African merchants. The platform has established partnerships with renowned courier services such as UPS and FedEx, enabling them to secure preferential rates. In addition to this, TUNL subsidizes shipping costs for SMEs by 50% to 75%, providing merchants with significant savings on international shipping expenses. Since its launch, the startup, competing with platforms like the Ivory Coast’s ANKA, which is partnered with DHL, has experienced a monthly growth rate of 35%. Over 700 merchants are now part of TUNL's "shipping club," and in 2023, TUNL's merchants have shipped over 8,000 international parcels, representing exports from South Africa valued at R19.5 million, according to official figures.