About five years ago, David Nothacker MBA’15J had a lightbulb when attending a class at INSEAD looking at the case study of BlaBlaCar, a leading ride sharing company started in Europe in 2006.
Nothacker saw an untapped market in Europe to connect commercial shippers with small trucking companies. And so sennder was born. Fast forward to the year 2021 and sennder is now the leading digital freight forwarder in Europe – the “Uber for trucking” if you will – with over €230 million in funding raised, 700 employees in 7 offices across the continent and more than 10,000 connected trucks serving customers such as Siemens, AbInBev and Scania.
“When I launched sennder just outside of Paris in 2015, the idea of transforming an MBA project into a leading logistics startup was still a big dream,” said Nothacker, who currently serves as sennder’s CEO.
Together with his co-founders Nicolaus Schefenacker and Julius Köhler, the trio sought to digitise an incredibly inefficient and fragmented €350 billion industry in Europe with over 400,000 trucking companies. Developing in-house technology, their primary focus was on route optimisation and reducing empty load kilometers and downtimes.
Judging by what followed, it was the right move. Despite initial hiccups and failures, sennder has become a well-known name in the freight forwarding industry. Even as the pandemic causes unprecedented losses to companies worldwide, sennder continues to thrive with Covid-19 unlocking even more opportunities for the firm, by by way of new volume from transporting protection equipment and forming even closer connections with shippers and carriers in challenging times.
Nothacker and his partners have set themselves the ambitious target of achieving €1 billion in gross revenues by 2024 through further tackling organic and inorganic growth opportunities.
Looking back on how it all began, Nothacker attributes much of his success to his time at INSEAD. “It was where I met my first co-founder and investors, it was where I learned the basics of how to expand a business, it was where I was able to access a powerful network that has helped me till today.”
Wanting to give back, he recently participated in a webinar for the INSEAD community to share his story. His advice for budding entrepreneurs? “Things take significantly longer than you expect, so plan for it and understand the commitment. When I heard this during one of my entrepreneurship classes at the time, I thought that my company would be different and that I wouldn’t need to do that, but now I know, it’s definitely true.”
When asked if the reality of how far he has come since almost filing for bankruptcy just a few years ago, Nothacker jokingly replies, “Not yet. I think you’ll have to ask me in another 2 or 3 years.”
Image: David Nothacker MBA’15J – Looking ahead to an exciting future after a successful 2020