WHU General

Tenth Startup With WHU Roots Becomes a Unicorn

"Forto" reaches market valuation of more than one billion US dollars

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The family of unicorns that emerged from the "ecosystem" of WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management has received a new member. The mythical creature represents startups that are valued at more than one billion US dollars before their IPO or the founders' exit. With the latest round of funding, the logistics company "Forto" has broken this valuation barrier. The example of "Forto" shows once again that the broad network and strong ecosystem at WHU gives young entrepreneurs a powerful boost.

The young German logistics company Forto has made it: during the latest funding round, the company has succeeded in raising capital amounting to 240 million US dollars (almost 202 million euros). This brings the value of the company to 1.2 billion U.S. dollars in total (about 1 billion euros) which qualifies it as a unicorn by international standards. Forto was founded in 2016, back then named FreightHub, by Erik Muttersbach, Michael Wax, Dr. Fabian Heilemann and Ferry Heilemann. The latter graduated from WHU with a bachelor's degree in business administration in 2009 and has already successfully founded other companies such as Daily Deal and Pirate Impact.

The core goal of Forto is to make supply chains significantly more sustainable. For example, the company provides support in analyzing the ecological footprint of companies’ supply chain, offers carbon-neutral transport, and, with its "1+1 approach", doubles the carbon-offsetting that companies have to pay to achieve an even more sustainable effect on the environment. It also offers traditional logistics solutions for sea, air, and rail freight as well as flexible multimodal transport. With the new funding, Forto aims to further invest into the sustainability of global trade. Forto is serving 2,500 customers and employs over 500 people at eleven locations in Europe and Asia.

Alongside well-known companies like Zalando, Hello Fresh, and home24, Forto is now the 10th start-up to join the group of unicorns that is founded by WHU graduates. Since its foundation in 1984, the promotion of entrepreneurship has always been at the core of the business school. Surveys, such as the Exit Monitor 2020, show that WHU produces the most successful founders in Germany. They are supported on their way by a strong alumni network and facilities such as the WHU Entrepreneurship Center, which helps young founders through organizing numerous start-up events, mentoring activities, and meet-ups with investors. In this way, WHU is able to contribute to building a strong ecosystem that can help entrepreneurs to build successful companies.