The Start of Something Big


Building on the success of last year’s inaugural KLU Logistics Start-Up Day, 2018’s day-long event attracted 25 start-ups from several countries as well as 300 participants who were given the opportunity to attend presentations and interact with some of the emerging stars of the logistic and transportation industries.

It’s estimated that a new logistics start-up is founded somewhere in the world every five days. Agile and innovative, the vast majority of these start-ups are both emerging as a result of the digital transformation of logistics and transportation and helping to revolutionize the industries through the development of technology-based solutions.

Organized in a joint effort of many KLU staff members, faculty members and students headed by professors Hanno Friedrich and André Ludwig, the KLU Start-Up Day gives its participants – KLU students, external students and practitioners interested in the topic – insight into the motivations and workings of these start-ups. Not to forget the chance to explore opportunities within them to advance their own fields of study or careers.

The January event kicked-off with a prologue – an evening get together and guest lecture by Robert Heinrich, whose Berlin-headquartered company MOIA is “re-imagining urban mobility” by creating services that “will enable people to move freely and securely”, before the first round of start-up pitches the next morning.

These pitches included a presentation from Dutch e-commerce company Picnic which has “re-engineered the logistics chain for fresh food,” according to Frank Gorte from Picnic. The company allows customers to order fresh food directly from the warehouse and has addressed the familiar complaints of online food deliveries – long waits, extra costs and poor quality of the produce – by delivering orders made before 10pm the next day, alerting customers 20 minutes before a delivery is due via an app, and allowing them to track their deliveries online. Trust is further built with the company by only delivering “the best quality”, as Gorte said. “We were deemed the biggest threat to established supermarkets in the Netherlands on our first day of service,” he added.

Each round of start-up pitches was followed by interactive sessions. Given assignments to investigate the ideas behind the start-ups before the event, students had the opportunity to delve deeper into what made the companies tick.

A number of the start-ups represented at the event not only fielded questions from KLU students, but also have present and former students of the university among their ranks. These included container transport firms Clinch Logistics and Container xChange.

Founded by KLU alumni Amanda del Valle Diaz and Ivan Flores Hurtado of Mexico, and joined shortly thereafter by compatriot and former KLU student Jorge Trujillo, Clinch Logistics focuses on container transport on “risky routes” such as between Mexico and Germany said del Valle, and guarantees customers that their goods will arrive safely. “We came from the other side of the world to start a business in Germany,” she remarked.

Container xChange, meanwhile, provides an online platform to bring together people who need containers and those who have spare ones, as well as facilitate negotiations, support transactions, and make predictions to optimise matches. “Containers are never where you need them,” says KLU student Janik Obstmayer, who is working with the firm. “They pile up in import places and are needed in export places.” The result is that around 30 per cent of all containers shipped around the world are empty, costing the industry 15 to 20 billion dollars per year.

Another start-up focussing on optimising resource utilisation and reducing waste was German company Poolynk. Damage and loss of reusable load carriers – such as pallets and plastic boxes - is frequently not identified, tracked or documented by firms, costing the industry tens of millions of euros every year.  Poolynk’s solution is to offer an app and online platform to track and monitor load carriers, thereby saving transport firms significant amounts of money annually.

Among the the many CEOs, CTOs and CDOs, one job title stood out a little bit: That of Ako Hansen, Chief Meteorologist at Searoutes. Hansen spoke of his firm’s desire to become “the Google maps for ships” by offering an app that provides free route planning for ships and takes into account not only the route, but weather conditions and the type of vessel.

The event concluded with a get together and live music from Berlin band Empathy Machine, providing participants further opportunity to mingle and network. The overwhelming sentiment was that the Start-Up Day was once again a fascinating and high-quality event, with one participant noting: “I’ve been to a few start-up events recently. Some were ok, some not so much. But this one was really very good.”


Watch start-up representatives talk to our media partner DVZ about their businesses.