The spirit of entrepreneurship

KLU’s Logistics Start-Up Day in January proved a great success, with business pitches from almost a dozen start-ups to KLU students and guests complemented by interactive sessions and a panel discussion.

The term start-up carries with it a sense of excitement and of adventure. Setting one’s mind to new business models and innovative solutions for existing problems is an appealing idea, particularly to students contemplating their own study and career paths.

Recognising the keen interest shown in logistics start-ups in two of their lectures, KLU professors Hanno Friedrich and André Ludwig decided to run a day-long event open to all KLU students.

Organised in collaboration with the members of the university’s Logistics Entrepreneurs Circle (LEC) – a self-organised group of students who aim to coach fellow students in entrepreneurial thinking – KLU’s Logistics Start-Up Day featured pitches from 11 start-ups working in the field of logistics and transportation.

Unsurprisingly, efficiency and simplicity of use provided by digital platforms was a common theme throughout the day. Among the start-ups represented at the event were a number of digital freight forwarding firms, including Berlin-based FreightHub. Established less than a year ago, the company aims to make the process of organising freight forwarding “as easy as booking a flight,” explained co-funder and CEO Ferry Heilemann during his presentation. Cargonexx from Hamburg, which started up in December 2016, aims to make prices for freight forwarding more transparent through the development of easy-to-use software, explained Rolf-Dieter Lafrenz, the firm’s managing director. “If my mother can use it, we’re on the right track.” Next up on the stage was Flexport, founded in San Franciso three years ago. Flexport aims at improving the customer experience in freight forwarding by offering an online platform on which customers can manage their entire logistics chain. A similar approach is followed by Instafreight. Their goal, as managing director Gion-Otto Presser-Velder put it, is to be “the next generation marketplace for freight”, focussing especially on B2B relations.

Seven Senders, a start-up from Berlin, offers online retailers an end-to-end service for cross-border delivery, making it cheaper, faster, and more reliable and thereby enhancing customer experience. Marc Schmitt, co-founder and CEO of Evertracker, explained how his team was working on a real-time track and trace solution by using smart sensors and artificial intelligence.

The day’s second round of pitches saw presentations from Cargobee, Graphhopper, Liefery, Xeneta, and Synfioo. Cargobee offers a cloud-based freight management, aiming at optimizing collaboration between shippers and carriers. Graphhopper provides software to help customers develop on demand solutions for tour and route optimization. “The beauty of same day delivery” was explained to the audience by Leonard Immisch, head of business development at Liefery. Liefery delivers goods ordered online within 90 minutes or within an individual time window.

Oslo-based Xeneta offers a benchmarking tool for ocean freight. Based on the aggregation of real shipping contracts, Xeneta sets out to bring more transparency into the ocean freight market. Co-founder and managing director of Synfioo, Marian Pufahl, talked about how Synfioo uses a software platform for short term predictions of delays, re-planning of routes, and information of all stakeholders. 

In addition to the start-up pitches, students met with the representatives of the start-ups in interactive sessions for an in-depth discussion of business models. In the afternoon, a panel discussion involving Lufthansa Technik Logistics Services, Moovel, Port XL, and Logistik-Initiative Hamburg examined how companies are dealing with innovations and how start-ups can be supported by regional and public initiatives.

In the end, 170 participants, including students and guests from companies and local authorities, had the chance to learn from and interact with some of the current movers and shakers within the logistics and transportation industries. The event concluded with a get together allowing students and representatives of the start-ups further opportunities to mingle and network.