Ocean Logistics: A freight booking startup

ocean-logistics, freight
via Linkedin

by Sudhir Ahluwalia | Negosentro.com |

Shipping exchange is a shipping freight e-booking platform.  The site can be accessed on both ios and android mobiles. It is available on the respective app stores. Most major shipping lines have already signed up and are publishing their rates and freight propositions on the site. Exporter/importers can discover, compare and book containers based on the information provided.

Shipping is largely a traditional industry. It is dominated by freight booking agents who intermediate between exporters/importers and shipping lines. They take care of the paperwork and help secure an optimal freight transport deal for their clients. Most documentation, even today, is done in paper format. Online booking and documentation facility is available on sites of larger shipping lines like Maersk but this is more an exception than a norm.

Shipping exchange platform leads to disintermediation of middlemen, the freight forwarders. It will help cut freight costs with savings accruing from removal of intermediation charges.  This reduction is welcomed by both exporters/importers and shipping lines.

Shipping exchange is setting the stage for change in the shipping industry. The traditional shipping logistics industry and its ecosystem are poised for a makeover.

The exchange will be charging a small $5 commission charge against each container booked. The commission is payable by the shipping line to the exchange.

The sales focus of the startup currently and expectedly, because of the location of the startup, is India. Most sign ups are from India. Ocean freight, though, is an international business. Ashutosh intends to soon expand his sights and intends to target the Chinese and US markets.

Marketing alone, to my mind, would not be enough to achieve this goal. New functionality and facilities for shipping lines, exporters/ importers and other stakeholders will have to be added. This will call for intensive research to identify appropriate functionality that can be incorporated onto the existing platform.

Unlike Silicon valley, India based ventures funding institutions look for clearly defined plans. They want to look at project plans with credible cost and revenue projections.  The plan should include time lines, milestones, investment plans, risk and sensitivity analyses.

The world is awash with funds, good projects number is small. Funders like to bet on ventures that have potential of becoming unicorns giving exponential returns.  They want to be convinced on the Founders vision and willingness to invest time and induct quality human resources. They look for controlled aggression and maturity in the entrepreneur.

The shipping exchange idea is not only great but the timing too looks right. But as we have repeatedly seen, ideas alone are not enough for a startup or venture to succeed. Implementation capability is critical. For that, selling is needed to attract top quality marketing and technology expertise into the startup. Talent should be enthused to join the venture.

About Sudhir

Sudhir Ahluwalia is a business consultant. He has been management consulting head of Asia’s largest IT outsourcing company Tata Consultancy Services, business advisor to multiple companies, columnist and author of upcoming book on herbs-Holy Herbs. He has been a member of the Indian Forest Service. His webpage is: www.sudhirahluwalia.com

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