Shipamax, a London-based startup and recent graduate of Silicon Valley accelerator Y Combinator, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding, money it plans to use to continue building and marketing its cloud software platform for the bulk shipping industry. Leading the round is Cherubic Ventures, with participation from AME Cloud, and FF Angel.
Founded in 2016 by Jenna Brown and Fabian Blaicher, Shipamax wants to bring the bulk shipping industry into the digital age, specifically weaning customers, shipping brokers and owner-operators off of things like email, messaging and excel spreadsheets, the administrative tools they currently use for the booking and scheduling process.
The problem isn’t just that there is a lot of unnecessary back and forth, but also that the data exchanged is unstructured and therefore labour intensive to process and not very scalable. That’s made even worse, Brown told me during a brief call, because shipowners and brokers typically receive in excess of 5,000 emails daily.
In one example I was shown, the email consisted of what looked like the fields of a database but written in free-form text and presumably not adhering to any industry standard schema. Whatever the case, it looked archaic to say the least.
Enter Shipamax’s cloud software solution, which is designed to not only handle all communications between customer, broker and operator — in other words, internal and external communications — but also knock the data exchanged into shape so that the process itself is infinitely more scalable.
That’s a big deal when the bulk shipping industry as a whole (not to be confused with containers, a different category of sea freight entirely) is said to be struggling with prices falling 90 per cent since 2008 and where every drop of extra efficiency really does count.
“Bulk shipping powers the world economy – the grains we eat, the steel we build with and the fuels we consume all get transported by bulk ships. Despite industry perils, demand for dry bulk has increased 40 per cent since the financial crisis. We’re enabling the industry to keep up with the pace of change in technology and put them on the road to recovery,” says Brown in a statement.