Its product then: “Optimise, formerly known as SimBunker, claims to enable owners and operators to reduce bunker consumption by determining the optimal speed of each vessel using multiple data points such as market rates, bunker prices, weather and individual vessel performance.”
The goal was to reduce emissions and costs of maritime transport. At the time it had 6 customers and 300 vessels using the product.
Now new funding has been received, and more backers have joined in investing.
This type of firm is just reaching the point when software support is starting to impose a burden on the firm. Most software startups can defer for a while the problem of support, but when the customer base grows enough, the whole cycle of customer support and updates and patches mushrooms exponentially. This places great financial demands on the firm. And it’s not profit-generating. The company benefit is only reputation, which takes a long time to repay the investment. But if reputation is tarnished by poor or unresponsive service, the company may be dealt a blow it cannot recover from, losing customers and revenues. It’s a critical time in a software startup’s lifetime.
The support conundrum is the principal reason for the failure of software startups and generally occurs later in the business arc than support for hardware-oriented products.
Europe has much the same problem as the US when it comes to a driver shortage for logistics.
And the problem made it into consciousness for a similar reason– a new regulation that required drivers to take 45 hours of rest outside their truck, and other work rules. The rules were made for safety reasons, and they make a lot of sense.
But the effect was to prevent drivers from using extra hours to earn money from firms that pay too little. ‘Make it up on volume’ is possible only if you have enough hours to do it.
So drivers increasingly are simply walking away from driving jobs, or quitting and looking for jobs from those few companies that pay more fairly.
The speakers in the article make it plain that trucking firms themselves brought this shortage on, by not paying drivers fairly and not providing fair working conditions.
It’s clear that Maersk is making bets as a venture capitalist on young firms with unique value propositions. They have made an investment, via Maersk Growth, in ZigZag, a London-based firm.
I had never heard of ZigZag before. They offer a SaaS (Software as a service) that allows manufacturers and retailers to manage returns in a one-stop manner. Their services include hard logistics assets like access to warehouses and sortation centers and access to carriers, as well as just the software.
The story indicates some of what they do. We all know that returns are a unique type of operation, whose nature differs with the type of industry. HP has been doing it for many years in the printer division. But I was interested to find out that there is a lot of interest among clothing manufacturers or retailers.
Apparently people buy clothes, use them for a while, and then return them, even for no refund. There is also a temptation for retailers to get rid of stale inventory by simply throwing it in a landfill, a sustainability issue. Easy returns offers an opportunity for a firm that can handle these problems efficiently and in a sustainable manner. (I presume there might be an incentive to cheat; but certainly a specialist could do a better job because it’s their core business).
I doubt that ZigZag will be merged with Maersk. However, the bet makes sense when you understand that a lot of what Maersk carries is clothing manufactures from the Far East. If ZigZag can help these clients it could make a difference in the clients’ bottom line, and Maersk would be able to say they helped with the supply chain problems.