Airspace on the Rise: Letting an Entrepreneur Be Your Guide
After more than 20 years in venture capital, I can happily admit that I am often wrong — totally and completely wrong.
One of those times was when I became enamored with the idea of a common logistics platform across carriers — this should exist, right? After chatting with many friends, I ran into the smartest person I have ever known in and around the logistics space, Nick Bulcao. On our fateful first call, he thoughtfully listened to me wax poetic about the big idea and the space. He stopped me at one point and said, “You know Neil, you may be right but what you are discussing is years away. There are too many different logistics businesses all focused on reducing cost and, as a result, they have razor-thin margins; I should know, I ran two companies in the space and exited both but for low multiples.”
Downtrodden, I was about to mentally move on to the next sector of interest when Nick said, “I have an idea in the makings for a different approach, focused on a more complicated problem: time-critical logistics. We’re building a platform that is all software, unlimitedly scalable and focused on the most mission-critical shipments, which means it can scale to billions in revenue with significant margins.” He had my attention. A few days later I was in San Diego meeting with Nick and his co-founder and CTO, Ryan Rusnak, absorbing more than I ever imagined I could about time-critical logistics.
When a part breaks at a manufacturing facility, the entire factory shuts down which can cost millions per hour of downtime. If an organ has to be in a city in time for surgery between 10–11 am, what do you do? As the world struggles to emerge from a pandemic, how can millions of vaccines be distributed globally? Airspace solves these problems in real-time. Rather than owning trucks or facilities, Airspace built a software platform that allows for any enterprise to deliver almost anything to another destination using whatever available and appropriate transportation exists — usually underutilized assets. Think excess capacity that always exists for rideshare drivers, delivery folks, private or public air services, last mile and long-haul logistics providers of any kind. There are billions of combinations to optimize point-to-point delivery over any destination and those optimizations, analytics, and execution are all handled by the Airspace’s platform. The software Ryan and his team have created is complex but streamlined for any company to use.
Enamored with the idea that software could solve logistics problems for hundreds, if not thousands of mission-critical needs for companies around the world, our team at Defy led Airspace’s Series A round, the first institutional capital of any kind, over three and a half years ago. It was Defy’s first investment after our initial fund closed. While $3.5M seems small in retrospect, Nick had bootstrapped his previous businesses, so his wife was impressed with not having to pull down a second mortgage this time. For fun, we sent the family a giant check made out to them to commemorate the day — which still hangs at the office today.
Like some of its customers, the company has been a rocket since being fueled by a B round less than a year later led by Scale. Today, they announce a $38 million Series C round led by Telstra, adding more fuel to the ship which is already heading towards nine figures in revenue. Last year, the company processed 23 billion route combinations, delivered a quarter of a million packages and saved 83 thousand lives via its organ program. As a board member, I have observed the team, led by Nick and Ryan, grow and flourish by focusing on the importance of culture and the positive impact they can make on the world around them.
My original thesis about logistics was wrong, but I was able to learn from the best to invest in a business the world truly needed. I have been lucky to be a part of this ride alongside Nick and his incredible team. Onwards and upwards Airspace — congratulations on a great milestone along this amazing journey.
Humbled and Thankful,
Neil and your friends and partners at Defy