OpenPort currently has their eyes on Indonesian and Pakistani market
OpenPort CEO and Co-Founder Max Ward had worked in a large logistics company for almost 10 years when he noticed a pattern of ‘very unhappy large consumer goods companies’ with the level of logistics services and solutions in emerging markets.
“International [logistics] companies are usually subcontracting [the project], they give it to somebody else, and they marked up the cost,” he explained in an interview with e27.
“That was about three years ago when I started having discussion about starting a company that really solves those types of problem,” he added.
For companies such as Unilever in Indonesia and Nestle in Pakistan, apart from overpriced service provided by international intermediaries, the other issue that they are facing is that despite being more cost efficient, local transportation companies (‘carriers’) often do not have the technology that allows customers to monitor the goods they are delivering.
This is why OpenPort offers mobile logistics solution in form of cloud-based 4PL Dashboard and mobile app.
“Customers have thousands of delivery orders, from ice cream to shampoo, and they usually have those orders in a big system called ERP, but those systems don’t connect to local carriers. So they send out delivery orders to the local carriers, and the carriers usually have a dispatch manager who assigns orders to drivers,” Ward explained.
“Instead of using Excel spreadsheets, now they can use our system to log in and assign those delivery orders to drivers, who just need an Android smartphone. It’s cheaper and much more valuable than a GPS unit,” he concluded.
The product will soon allow on-demand procurement where large shippers can reach out to whichever carrier is available on the market and conduct a ‘mini-bid’.
OpenPort has offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Jakarta, Gurgaon, Las Vegas, Bandar Seri Begawan, and soon Karachi.
Ward also took the chance to say that the company has received a US$4 million funding from two investors which identities are going to be revealed by end of April.
It cited Indonesia and Pakistan as their main focus at the moment. Apart from the countries’ market sizes (at 250 and 200 million respectively), there is also an absence of solutions similar to OpenPort in the market at the moment.
“There’s plenty of opportunity,” as Ward described it.
But for logistics companies looking to expand their business into these two markets, Ward has some insights to share, especially related to human resource.
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“Both countries increasingly allow foreign-owned software industry players such as ourselves to operate … It’s no longer necessary to start joint venture [with a local company]. However, when you select your local team and management organisation, you really try to recruit those with extensive expertise in the more traditional service, the companies you are trying to disrupt,” he explained.
“Look for people who have long experience in the industry, but who are also passionate about changing it,” he concluded.
Ward stresses on the importance on continuous innovation for the company, which will focus on developing new features and expanding regionally this year.
“We’re continuing to expand our products into marketplace-enabling products, and getting increasingly into payments, in addition to enhancing visibility solution to our customers,” said Ward.
“We got to always build our networks within the countries that we are operating. So, in Indonesia we are expanding to Makassar and Medan. At the same time, we are also expanding our inter-Asia network that allows us to be a greater strategic partner to MNCs who are doing businesses across the region,” he ended.
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