Shipping Industry’s Answer to Webjet

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TWO Brisbane entrepreneurs are about to turn the world of logistics on its head with a freight booking platform that is the shipping industry’s answer to Webjet.

Alex Ewart and Conor Hagan identified a need for faster, smarter and more economical way of shipping while working in freight forwarding together in Brisbane.

They came up with Explorate, the first on-demand ocean freight booking platform that allows importers and exporters (shippers) to book directly with carriers.

“It means a smarter, more efficient international supply chain and that means increased productivity, and global competitiveness,” Mr Ewart said.

“We realised we were about to disrupt the very industry we worked for, by allowing customers to cut out the middleman and deal directly with shipping lines, just as Webjet does with airline bookings.”

Just as freight forwarding is the travel agent for logistics, Explorate is the Webjet or Trivago that gives users the power of choice.

The pair spent six months developing various concepts until finally being satisfied they had the right formula.

Struggling for vendor buy-in via the shipping lines regional offices, they visited the headquarters of the major European shipping lines in Hamburg, Copenhagen, Marseille and Geneva.

“We had little more than a pitch deck to get the shipping lines to buy in but they thankfully obliged,” Mr Hagan said.

The on-demand container booking platform was then tested with Brisbane-based importers and exporters and delivered stellar results, surprising even its developers.

One Queensland small-to-medium enterprise was able to reduce its ocean freight spend by 62 per cent and its end-to-end freight spend by 55 per cent – all priced and booked in less than an hour.

“It’s an exceptional case but it does demonstrate the time and cost savings that are available to Queensland shippers if they’re willing to try new ways of operating,” Mr Ewart said.

The manufacturer of container handling and lifting equipment, had been importing and exporting containerised ocean freight with a freight forwarder for a decade, but had become dissatisfied with the cost, lack of pricing transparency and the excessive time it took to receive a quote.

“They had already tried to take their business elsewhere, but the risk and disruption of change always made the move to a different service provider unfeasible,” Mr Ewart said. “Like a lot of shippers, they were frustrated by the status quo and felt they lacked control over even the simplest parts of their supply chain.”

They agreed to give Explorate a test run for their next shipment as a comparison and were surprised to have port-to-port pricing within minutes and a 58 per cent cheaper.

“These are major considerations for the state’s agricultural industry in particular, given the global demand for primary produce is expected to grow by at least 58 per cent as much as 98 per cent by 2050,” Mr Ewart said.

Hagan and Ewart are now planning to raise a pre-series round of capital to support the product’s release to market.

Originally published in the Courier Mail.