Aramex leads $8.5M Series B in UK address startup

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Aramex has led a $8.5 million Series B funding round in British startup What 3 Words, a company that is creating a universal postal code system and behind Mongolia's new address system.

The Jordanian logistics giant said in a statement it committed $2.94 million of the total, along with prior investors Intel Capital, Force Over Mass and Mustard Seed.

Pinning your location down to just three words.
(Image via What3words)

“Aramex will use the What 3 Words address system in its ecommerce fulfilment operations across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia to further enhance its last-mile delivery solutions,” the company said in a statement, as it adds Whatt 3 Words to a clutch of logistics startup investments that include Grab and Logisure in India, Shippify in South America and CashBasha in Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

What 3 Words has created an address system based on a global grid of 57 trillion three meter by three meter squares, where each square has a unique pre-assigned three-word address.

"Each What 3 Words language is powered by a wordlist of 25,000 – 40,000 dictionary words," it says on the website. "The wordlists go through multiple automated and human processes before being sorted by an algorithm that takes into account word length, distinctiveness, frequency, and ease of spelling and pronunciation. Offensive words and homophones (sale & sail) have been removed. Simpler, more common words are allocated to more populated areas and the longest words are used in 3 word addresses in unpopulated areas."

The new investment will be used to launch a voice recognition product for smartphone, wearables, and automotive sectors, and add several Asian languages - including Arabic - to the 10 it already uses.

The London-based startup is certainly not alone in the sector globally or even regionally. In Egypt Locname is competing for the same market since 2014, UAE delivery company Fetchr is pioneering an in-house GPS-based address system, and in Lebanon Eddress turns addresses into six-character codes.

Africa, Asia integration

Aramex CEO Hussein Hachem, said the company would be using What 3 Words to in its ecommerce operations across the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

“The partnership is also perfectly aligned with our commitment to becoming a technology-based enterprise,” he said.

What 3 Words CEO and cofounder Chris Sheldrick hoped the new investment, following a $3.5 million round in November last year, would help them to become a “global addressing standard”.

The startup said in a statement that this year logistics software provider Blackbay, address verification platform Allies, and the supplier of Ireland’s new Eircode system AutoAddress had integrated its technology into their services.

“British firm Direct Today Couriers have reduced the number of failed deliveries by 83 percent since using three word addresses,” it said.

And in a major deal for the company, in May Mongolia’s postal delivery service Mongol Post adopted What 3 Words as a national addressing standard. Mongolia covers an area nearly the size of the European Union, but has no consistent addressing system to serve its three million citizens, 30 percent of whom are nomadic, roaming an area of more than 1.5 million square kilometres.

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