The car you’re driving, the phone you’re using, the clothes you’re wearing were, at one point, most likely transported by a maritime container and shipped across the ocean so that a company could sell those goods to a consumer.
Virtually everyone in the world benefits from shipping, yet we take for granted how goods end up in our hands as consumers. Shipping is the engine that powers global trade and an increasingly globalized economy. Every country relies on maritime trade to sell the goods that it has and buy the goods that it needs, so a low-cost and efficient maritime transport system has a critical role to play in continued global growth and sustainable development.
Simply put, shipping is indispensable to the world.
90% of the world’s goods are carried by sea. However, shipping is wrought with disorganization and delays, which in large part is due to the fact that the process to move goods is handled largely by an unconnected, disjointed combination of email, phone, paper, and fax.
This has a significant effect on business owners who rely on timely shipments to be able to pay for and sell goods, generate income to pay rents and employees, and earn a living. Over 50% of shipping containers suffer delays due to disorganized information or tracking issues in the supply chain process. As a result, over $140B of value is lost every year due to delays or lost goods. This has a significant impact on SMEs, their suppliers, customers, and the freight forwarders who are shipping goods. And without freight forwarding, international commerce would be rendered non-existent.
In a world where logistics is 12% of global GDP, there need to be solutions that digitize the freight forwarding process, making it easier and faster to move goods from point A to point B in a way that enables exporters and importers to have more visibility and control over their freight.
But transforming an industry that has largely relied on offline processes and logistics companies that are not internet-native has not been easy. In fact, none of the top freight forwarders in the world based on volume have been launched after 1994, which is the year that the commercial internet was born with the creation of Netscape.
With the advent of technology impacting shipping and logistics, shippers now expect automated shipment booking, real-time and structured tracking information on shipped goods, and an optimized supply chain that connects every level of the supply chain.
Nowports, a digital freight forwarder based in Monterrey, Mexico, is on a mission to revolutionize international logistics from factory to showroom — and every point along the journey. Logistics teams worldwide across any sector can request services on the Nowports platform (1) receive instant shipping freight quotes to and from Latin America, (2) process documentation and information management 300% faster and in an automated fashion, (3) obtain predictions based on artificial intelligence to determine how many days it will take a container to be moved from point A to point B, and (4) receive a dashboard to have visibility and control of all movements of freight and their specific geographical position at any given time in the supply chain process.
Nowports is already enabling clients to achieve more transparency and efficiency with the process of shipping their freight internationally and they are one of the fastest growing companies we’ve come across in quite some time, but what gets us so excited about backing Nowports is the potential to build the backbone of the infrastructure for global trade.
We are investors in Carta, an equity management software that has ambitions to map company ownership and assets digitally, and we see many parallels between Carta’s vision and Nowports’ vision to track and map all the assets and cargo moved via freight and global trade.
By creating a software platform that can serve as the backbone of the infrastructure for global trade, Nowports has the potential to transform the way trade is conducted and positively impact the players across the supply chain.
The Nowports platform will enable everyone in the connected network of the supply chain — from companies and SMEs, to trading partners to logistics service providers — to benefit from being part of the network since they will accrue efficiencies and cost savings due to increased transparency of the tracking of goods, the ability to better manage working capital needs, and having reduced transit times on goods. As more nodes in the network accrue benefits from being part of the network, more nodes will join the network, making it an incredibly powerful way to conduct and improve global trade. The effects of this are tremendously impactful on global trade and sustainable development.
If there is a team to build the backbone for the infrastructure of the freight industry, Nowports has all the ingredients to be the right one. Alfonso de los Rios and Max Casal are visionary founders who combine a deep passion for logistics and domain expertise in the industry with the ability to build a cutting-edge technology platform. The team has combined the best of traditional freight forwarding expertise with innovative and visionary technology talent. Both Alfonso and Max have lived and breathed freight forwarding for years. Alfonso hails from a family in Mexico with three generations of background in shipping, so it’s in his DNA, and Max took it upon himself to move from Uruguay to go work for a freight forwarder in Kansas City with 30 years of experience in order to learn the trade.
In addition to their domain expertise and passion for advancing the shipping industry, Alfonso and Max care deeply about building an amazing team and culture. Everyone often refers to the team as “their family,” which given Alfonso’s background growing up in a family business, makes it no surprise that he and Max have figured out how to create a culture of people who care about each other and want to work hard for each other. The fact that they have so early on in the company’s life created a HR and Culture Leader position is a testament to how much they care about creating a great culture. They have also promoted a culture of creativity and learning, while also always recognizing that the business they are in requires them to move fast and be creative, but not break things. They have a thirst for learning and taking best practices from industry leading companies, but, as they like to say, they are taking the best of other cultures, while adding their own Latin touch.
One thing that stands out when you meet the team is how happy everyone is. Happiness is a theme at Nowports. There’s a special energy that’s easily noticeable when you enter the office. A “Shipping Happiness” sign adorns the leaf-covered wall next to the office and #WeShipHappiness is written on dry erase boards across the office.
The team is maniacally focused on creating a hard-working, team-oriented, and engaging culture that makes employees happy. This spills over into their interactions with customers because the Nowports team understands the impact they are creating. Shipping lines of code to make maritime transport more efficient and transparent means that Nowports is shipping happiness to business owners and their customers who have the products in their hands, which puts a smile on the face of everyone.
We are thrilled to roll up our sleeves to work with Alfonso, Max, and Team Nowports and a stellar group of investors that includes Monashees, Base10, Y Combinator, Investo, and others as they execute on their mission to revolutionize international logistics and ship happiness in the process.