Even though the term Automation was coined in the automobile industry, it has been a key feature in computer programming. Over time, we discovered how to program Artificial Intelligence or AI that can automate for us and save us time and resources. Now, the startup OceanOps is employing automation to speed up the delivery of container shipments. This is done via the company’s online independent platform that utilises a unique optimization algorithm.
OceanOps is also one of the women-led startups that is a product of Antler, which is a global startup generator and early-stage VC. Antler selects some of the most brilliant and determined people and helps them find the right co-founder and connect them to advisors and experts worldwide. We had a conversation with the company’s co-founders Yulia Vlasova, Saif Khalaf and Vladimir Avramov to find out what OceanOps is all about.
Why OceanOps is called the Waze of containers?
OceanOps is a SaaS platform that enables dynamic rerouting of ocean freight for mitigating container shipment delay issues. “OceanOps enables shippers (beneficial cargo owners and logistics companies) to gain control over their shipments and reduce uncertainty in their supply chain through visibility over all the routing options,” the company’s co-founders said.
As per the company, shipment delays cost over $2 billion (€1.81 billion) annually to the supply chain, and that’s just in terms of inventory management. This projected financial loss doesn’t even take reputational damage into account, along with factory shutdown in some extreme cases. Similar to how Waze helps in re-direction with a more efficient and less congested re-routing, OceanOps delivers real-time options to move containers from A to B and hence, the company calls itself the Waze for shipping containers.
Funding & future plans
OceanOps recently hosted its pre-seeding funding round with Antler. It is planning to go for a seed round in early 2020, which is expected to help the company scale. As for future plans, the startup is eyeing a global launch on November 2019 and has plans to commence piloting of its dynamic rerouting solution this month. With a slated scaleup in 2020, OceanOps will be extending its initial offering with other modalities, such as rail and barge. It also aims to increase actionability by connecting with shipping lines and land transportation vendors.
Journey so far
It’s not easy for a women-led startup to gain traction so quickly, however, the COO and founder of OceanOps, Yulia Vlasova, worked in the shipping industry for over 10 years. Her key area was handling operational functions at a regional and global level for major container shipping lines across Europe. “Thinking back to 2006, when I joined Maersk in Moscow, I could never have imagined that this journey would take me to Sweden, The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. That experience provided me with a solid background, knowledge and the courage to co-found a business to help digitalize the shipping industry,” Yulia said.
Upcoming tech trends in the cargo industry
OceanOps is taking charge of optimising the shipping industry with its SaaS platform. As for the upcoming tech trends in the cargo industry, the startup believes digitisation and automation will lead the way. Though the field of shipping has a long way to go, the upcoming tech trends can be realised with closer cooperation between incumbent companies in the industry and start-ups. “It is exciting to see that the industry is finally starting to embrace this change. Several major shipping lines have started their own accelerator programs, as well as created their own investment arms to partner with startups,” says Vlasova.
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