The World of Logistics is going to change dramatically.

Frederic Krahforst

6.10.2020

Lesezeit in Minuten:
6

Hello World,

we feel like it's a good time to share a note on what we have been quietly working on. For the past few months, we have taken our first steps towards realising our vision to change collaboration in the logistics industry for good.  

Why we founded TradeLink: It's a very large and very fragmented logistic industry

 The logistics industry in Europe turns over an impressive 1.120 billion EUR per year and is one of the largest industries in the world. Imagine close to 1 billion truck deliveries crossing Europe every year.  

While impressive in size and in importance, this industry is also notoriously fragmented. The top 10 logistics companies only account for 11% of the overall market and Germany alone is home to 14 800 forwarding companies. At the same time, this industry is also highly inter-dependent. One simple delivery can easily involve the alignment of 5 companies and their employees. For each company this complexity grows exponentially across its hundreds of different suppliers.  

Besides, (… and because of….) this fragmentation, the industry lacks wide reaching data and information transmission standards. This drives an infamous reliance on phone, paper, and Excel that results in an incomplete and error-prone data basis for decision making and planning. The industry has a very striking name for this situation governed by semi trustworthy data: “Excel Bingo”… you get the picture.

The people working in this industry - from office to warehouse - experience frustrating friction in their daily work and these inefficiencies quickly amount to billions in cost across the industry.  

Nearly half of all trucks wait an average >1 hour for each planned offloading at a warehouse due to poor alignment of partners. Up to 30% of all trucks in transit run empty due to market intransparencies. Ramp employees experience major stress every day, in lack of transparency when the next trucks arrive and how much containers will have to be processed the next day. Simply because companies are not aligned.

Our vision: Frictionless collaboration

Tobias, Michael and myself founded TradeLink to bring this fragmented industry together. In order to remove this frustrating friction and to help the people at the forefront with the right information and easy tools. We want to enable a more seamless communication and information exchange between supply chain partners. As Co-founders, we have each experienced how industries experienced leapfrogs in efficiency by adopting new data-driven strategies, like in telecommunication, e-commerce or media. Now, we are excited by all the opportunities that come with bringing this industry together and making daily collaboration more seamless. We envision an industry of frictionless supply chain collaboration.
 

“Ok”, this vision makes sense you say... “But why does this not exist today? And why do you think you can change this?”

If we want to connect this industry and its people successfully, we need to upgrade its underlying rules. At TradeLink, we translated our insights into three principles that we believe will enable a globally adopted logistics collaboration platform:

  1. Simple Connections: This industry is fragmented, and so is the IT system landscape of its participants. Each company is using custom software integrations and inhouse systems. Data transformation processes and custom IT interfaces are expensive, fragile and therefore often limit digital connections to key suppliers. Connections need to work irrespective of inhouse systems and irrespective of business model. That’s why we focus on the creation of a collaboration layer that connects on “a click of a button” (…or a couple of clicks…).
     
  2. Personal Interactions: This industry can feel very anonymous, with information often passing through shared email inboxes and across language barriers. But at the end of the day, this industry is driven by the people who make the process work from office to warehouse. We believe that a successful platform needs to make interactions more personal, include all persons involved and remove any information barriers. We focus on building a product that users will love for its simplicity and personal utility.
  3. Rewarding transparency: Perfect transparency will unlock billions of dollars in supply chains efficiency that should benefit all players. In today‘s market structure, with many cascaded and chained service relationships, information sharing is often not rewarded. A sub-contractor might hold valuable information (“I am late”), but has little incentive to share it with the destination who is not its client. That’s why we focus on building a system that incentivizes information sharing and distributes the benefits of transparency to all players fairly.  

TradeLink today

Yes, developing a collaboration layer is hard and takes time. The key question we need to answer along the way is, “what’s the immediate value to the client today?”. To which our answer is: immediate oversight and full transparency for operations and top management without any project or investment risks.  

Today, we start by helping production sites and warehouses to organize their on-site processes more efficiently and by simply connecting them with their forwarders, drivers, suppliers and customers.  

We offer warehouses an intelligent and automated way to align with all companies involved around truck delivery times and processing times. And this is based on a super simple adoption process: TradeLink is ready in hours, does not require any IT project and no training of staff to start with.

“We are constantly battling intransparencies in logistics resulting in expensive personal planning, buffer stocks and stress. This is frustrating and expensive for everyone involved. Already today, TradeLink helps us to significantly lower our total inbound operations and overhead costs by connecting us with our clients and their suppliers on all planned deliveries.” - Steven Kabisch, Meyer & Meyer Holding SE & Co. KG

Over the past months we have been working with some terrific logistics experts, partners and clients. Based on over 500 client and product sessions, we have steadily built out our industry understanding and developed a very clear product roadmap that we are currently executing.

While we are still at the very beginning, we are already enthusiastic about the quickly growing group of partners, clients, users and supporters that drive this vision with us. This was nicely displayed in the BVL vote for the most innovative logistics company, where the industry voted us into first place and asked us to present at the Deutsche Logistik Kongress.

After already running over thousands of connections in live operations with our early client base, we will now also accelerate our market approach and are excited about the opportunities ahead.   

Some more great news: Point Nine and Fly Ventures just joined the journey

When we decided to go all-in on TradeLink this year, we already had a very strong conviction of our vision. However, we didn’t expect to convince others just as quickly of our way.  

That’s why we are very proud that roughly 6 months after foundation, TradeLink recently closed its € 3mn. Seed funding round with some incredible investors. We are excited to be working with Pawel Chudzinski (Partner at Point Nine) and Gabriel Matuschka (Partner at Fly Ventures) who have led our round, and we feel humbled by their vote of confidence. Pawel and Gabriel joined our board and help us to rapidly build-out our product-centered company and establish it within the European logistics sector.

 

“We have been excited by the opportunities in the logistics industry for some time. What excites us about TradeLink & the team is their ultra user-centric approach to the problem.” - Pawel Chudzinski
“They are managing to bring immediate value to their clients while rethinking key elements of how this industry has operated in the past. We still have a lot to find out together, but the team around Frederic and Tobias is executing at high speed.” - Gabriel Matuschka


Equally important, we could win a number of fantastic supply chain and industry experts as investors who share our beliefs. One person that stands exemplary for this shared believe is Stephan Kniewasser, former Managing Director of Transporeon, Europe’s supply chain tech unicorn of the past 20 years. Now he is helping us to build the missing collaboration layer of this industry for the next decades to come.

“We have seen how companies have started to digitize the largest shipper and their fleet operators. Think about Coca Cola and its key forwarders. However, this industry is still at the beginning and still has the most difficult, but also the most promising part of this transition lying ahead. That’s why I am very excited to support the TradeLink team. They do not only bring a unique set of experiences in data-enabled businesses, but they also found into this complex industry with fascinating speed.” Stephan Kniewasser

The steps ahead

There is exciting work to be done! So please reach out to us if you want to join our family and shape the future of logistics collaboration with us in terms of Sales, Marketing, Product and Tech.

To simple connections,

Frederic & Team