E-commerce tracking firm’s road hits $1.25 billion as online sales soar
Owith the boom in e-commerce, consumers increasingly want to know, “Where is my order?” Route, a three-year-old package tracking company, aims to answer this question in real time with its AI-powered software. It’s a growing and increasingly valuable company: Route co-founder and CEO Evan Walker says Forbes that the startup is now worth $1.25 billion, following a $200 million fundraising.
The unicorn valuation comes just three months after Lehi, Utah-based Route appeared on the Forbes Next Billion-Dollar Startups list, one of the 25 companies we thought were most likely to cross the line. billion dollar mark. Route’s revenue more than doubled last year, to around $80 million, from $34 million in 2020. In addition to product tracking, Route also helps merchants market additional products to consumers who have already made purchases and offers integrated shipping insurance.
“It was crazy,” Walker said in a video call from his office in Santa Monica, Calif. “We’re in a position to own space right now, and space is getting incredibly hot.”
“Delivery is evolving and some of it feels very sci-fi. There’s no reason to lose anything anymore.
Walker, 41, started his first e-commerce business at age 14 when he set up a website to sell video games in his bedroom, borrowing $2,000 from his father to run it. “I sold a few video games and was frustrated that I wasn’t making more. Then I got a phone call for a $500,000 order of productivity software. The business took off immediately,” he recalls. Five years later, he sold the company, called Netsoft, at age 19, for more than $10 million. “I was always that kid,” he says. “I don’t know why. I was wired that way. It wasn’t about the money, it was about being the inventor.
He got the idea for Route seven years ago while negotiating a shipping option for an antique trunk he bought from a small shop in Florence. The store owner told him that it was too fragile to be shipped overseas and that it might get lost anyway. A collector of antiques and artifacts, Walker soon realized that shipping, tracking and insurance were good business prospects. He co-founded Route three years ago with Mike Moreno to help small stores compete in an increasingly global market.
“Amazon wins because everything is centralized, but no one wants to sell on Amazon anymore,” Walker says. “Small traders don’t have the same tools, and even big traders don’t have the tools.”
Since its inception, Route has recruited over 11,000 merchants, mostly small businesses, and tracked over 175 million packages for shoppers. Route collects transaction fees from merchants each time a customer purchases a product marketed through its software, and it derives revenue from insurance. Visual tracking itself is free.
The latest funding round was led by a London-based investment firm that Walker declines to name citing a strict non-disclosure agreement. Other investors in the round, which brings the company’s total funding to $291 million, include Eldridge, Madrona Venture Group, Riot Ventures, FJ Labs and Jaws Capital. Walker says he personally remains “by far the largest controlling shareholder.”
With this new funding, Route intends to develop new features for its technology, such as increased personalization. To do this, Route, which employs some 450 people spread between suburban Salt Lake City and Los Angeles, plans to hire more engineers to develop new products. While early hires came from top Utah tech companies like Qualtrix, Walker now hopes to attract more consumer-focused tech talent to the highly competitive West Coast.
“Delivery is evolving and some of it looks very sci-fi. It’s drone delivery and self-driving driver delivery,” says Walker. “I think transparency is a very important thing. no reason to lose anything.