IFE Welcomes David Nothacker, Co-Founder & CEO at Sennder
The JCU Institute for Entrepreneurship welcomed David Nothacker, Co-Founder & CEO at Sennder for a talk called “Scaling a German Company through Internationalization,” on September 28, 2021. Sennder is Europe’s leading freight forwarding company and provides parcel and full truckload services by connecting supply and demand through digitalization and automation of all road logistics processes.
Sennder connects large commercial shippers with small freight carriers and provides them with an in-house-developed platform for logistics, transport, and shipping that allows for tracking and direct communication with the drivers. With this new level of automation, the company has changed the European road freight market, which until now has been dependent on paper, phone and fax and characterized by multi-layer subcontracting.
Nothacker explained that he came up with the idea for Sennder for a university project in 2015, while he was pursuing an MBA in Germany. Initially, Sennder was a same-day parcel delivery service that guaranteed that anything would get to the recipient within 8 hours. Nothacker’s idea attracted the interest of a business angel from Canada, who decided to invest 500 thousand Euros in the project. However, right after, in 2016, Nothacker’s initial co-founder pulled out, which almost jeopardized the investor’s decision to fund the project.
At that point, Nothacker had to decide between declaring bankruptcy or starting over without his co-founder. After convincing the investor that he could still pull it off, Nothacker rethought the project, and along with his two new co-founders, managed to shift the service to full truckload delivery. In 2017, Sennder partnered with Scania, the Swedish truck manufacturer, and in 2018 with Siemens, the German multinational conglomerate.
In 2020, Sennder had a particularly good year. In July, the company announced a Joint Venture with Poste Italiane (the Italian postal service) to digitalize the Italian road freight market. In that same year, Sennder acquired Uber Freight and ranked 7th on LinkedIn’s Top Startups in Germany. It also launched “Green Business,” with the aim to increase its sustainability commitment and reduce carbon emissions through the use of advanced fuels. In early 2021, Sennder partnered with Michelin, and later acquired Cars&Cargo.
The company has an asset-light business model, but it currently manages over 12,500 trucks across Europe with a team of more than 900 people. It has eight offices in seven countries and operates in over 40 nations. One of the challenges that Nothacker foresees is the need to change and reinvent the organizational structure as the company continues to grow.
A Q&A session followed the presentation, and Nothacker explained that investors tend to look at the revenues and traction of a startup before deciding to fund it. When asked what a new startup that doesn’t yet have revenues and traction should do to attract investors, he explained that it should focus on execution, operation, and excellence in order to build a reputation and earn trust. An important piece of advice that Nothacker gave students is to remember that entrepreneurs need to be stubborn and persistent, because creating and managing a startup requires a lot of hard work and commitment. He added that strategic thinking is required to perform well. At present, Sennder hires about forty people each month, so Nothacker concluded his talk by encouraging students to apply for a position.