The chief executive of Bulknet.com will shortly close a $25-$30 million round of financing for his month-old Internet site, which he hopes will dominate online bookings for chemicals shipping. Mark Bitting said the financing, following an initial round that raised less than $1 million, should give the company a big head start on Internet competitors hoping to capture some of the multi-billion dollar chemical shipping market.
"We're the only ones in this industry that have attacked e-commerce," he said, but added that he expects steep competition down the road given the number of other "dot-com" companies out there putting money into systems.
The company has signed up 41 of the largest U.S. tank truck carriers to use its site so far, including Groendyke, Liquid Transport Corp
., Matlack Systems Inc., Miller Transporters, Quality Carriers and Trimac Corp.
Bitting said those six companies represent more than $1.5 billion in annual bulk transportation services.
He is now aiming to enlist the top 50 chemical companies, adding he is currently negotiating with more than a dozen.
So far, it has signed up Sunoco Inc. to use its services, which allow shippers and carriers to negotiate anonymously for each other's business through a neutral marketplace.
The company is also studying whether to expand from North America into Europe, specifically into shipping in England, Holland, France and Switzerland.
In addition to its shipping marketplace, Bulknet.com allows companies to access vendors selling a range of industry-related equipment and purchases. It also has a classified advertising section posting jobs, real estate, and used equipment.
Bulknet.com charges fees for its site and collects eight percent of the line haul revenue. Bitting, who spent 18 years in the chemical business, said that while the set-up would work for other industries that rely heavily on shipping, "we are going to stay with chemicals initially."
He added that an initial public offering
of the company is possible, however there are no plans in the near future to take it public. "There is a great concern on my part about going public too fast," he said. "I want to approach an IPO at a later date."