A consistent source for innovation in any industry is the (seemingly endless) flow of start-ups offering newer, better, cheaper, (and often) cleverer solutions than the established players come up with. Consistently, numbers of these start-up’s in the marine space, are growing: even in COVID-fraught 2020, across all sectors, the number of new start-ups in the US (4.4m) grew by 25% from 2019’s 3.5m.
With such rates of new ideas arriving on such a regular basis, how can users of these systems fail to improve, grow and generally outperform expectations every year? Well, the blunt answer is because over 90% of these businesses fail, and 10% fail within the first year of trading (which means pretty much immediately). 70% of all start-ups fail between year 2 and year 5 (Source: Failory.) Even past performance of the founders isn’t much guide to how their new venture will perform: only 30% of previously successful founders will repeat the trick with their next business (Source: Skill vs Luck in Entrepreneurship).
So - on the assumption that Start Ups do bring innovation - how is the best way to get hold of solutions that can make a real difference to your business?
Part of what Shipnet does is constantly scour the market looking at what trends and businesses are emerging. We speak to a large number of these freshly launched companies each month, identifying trends, price movements and market interest in their offers. The strongest of these, we actively solicit partnerships with.
These partnerships aim to do several things:
- Bring real value to users of our solution: we want to bring innovation to users of our platform, but we do not feel that we need to create all of that innovation ourselves. Finding these products that we feel will benefit Shipnet’s customers and bringing those products into our ecosystem is sufficient.
- Validate the strength of the businesses behind the product: whilst we want to use all the greatest ideas that come from new businesses, sadly (and as borne out by the statistics quoted above) not all of the companies we meet have the capital or structure to survive long enough to build a sustainable business. In 2018- 82% of businesses that failed, failed due to poor cashflow (Source: Fundera), and that poor cashflow is driven by what Statista deems the main challenge to startups- that of generating new business.
- Integrate! Having a fantastic tool that exists in splendid isolation is little use to most businesses. Yes- this new start-up may have a brilliant algorithm for predicting fuel consumption in blue water voyages, but how often will the benefit of that be felt by your business if users have to manually input data to replicate the planned voyage to use it? A key part of our onboarding of a new partner is getting their innovative products to work well with our wider platform (which covers commercial, technical and financial management of your marine shipping business). We will often look to absorb these costs and position our partners for success by making it as easy as possible for our current customer base to try the new solutions out there.
The proof of all of the above is this: in the next month or so we will announce a partnership with one of the most exciting marine start-ups we’ve yet found, with a flagship customer involved and testing the combined solution. This is all to show that when you select Shipnet as your supplier of maritime software, it’s not just us that you are getting- it’s also a pipe into a booming maritime tech economy, just with the risks mitigated and benefits maximised.
PS: if you happen to be one of these innovative companies- we want to hear from you. Please get in touch.