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Y Combinator-backed Trella brings transparency to Egypt’s trucking and shipping industry
Y Combinator has become one of the key ways that startups from emerging markets get the attention of American investors. And arguably no clutch of companies has benefitted more from Y Combinator’s attention than startups from emerging markets tackling the the logistics market. On the heels of the success the accelerator had seen with Flexport, which is now valued at over $1 billion — and the investment in the billion-dollar Latin American on-demand delivery company, Rappi, several startups from the Northern and Southern Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia have gone through the program to get in front of Silicon Valley’s venture capital firms. These are companies like Kobo360, NowPorts, and, most recently, Trella. The Egyptian company founded by Omar Hagrass, Mohammed el Garem, and Pierre Saad already has 20 shippers using its service and is monitoring and managing the shipment of 1,500 loads per month. “The best way we would like to think of ourselves is that we would like to bring more transparency to the industry,” says Hagrass. Like other logistics management services, Trella is trying to consolidate a fragmented industry around its app that provides price transparency and increases efficiency by giving carriers and shippers better price transparency and a way to see how cargo is moving around the country. If the model sounds similar to what Kobo360 and Lori Systems are trying to do in Nigeria and Kenya, respectively, it’s because Hagrass knows the founders of both companies. Technology ecosystems in these emerging markets are increasingly connected. For instance, Hagrass worked with Kobo360 founder Obi Ozor at Uber before launching Trella. And through Trella’s existing investors (the company has raised $600,000 in financing from Algebra Ventures) Hagrass was introduced to Josh Sandler the chief executive of Lori Systems. The three executives often compare notes on their