10 More Innovative Companies Disrupting the Shipping Industry (Q3 2017)

It’s 2017 and “the way we have always done it” in maritime is quickly becoming no longer a valid excuse when it comes to new technology. There’s no guarantee of success anymore when a recovering market, unprecedented consolidations, and trade lanes are constantly evolving. Maritime players need to hedge their bets and plan for a technology-driven future. Seaport terminal managers, shipping lines, agents, forwarders, and brokers ought to pay attention and capitalize on the exponential progress of technology and innovation.

While there’s no way to include all of the future disruptors within the maritime arena, here are ten more fellow innovators in global shipping we found interesting this past quarter:

1. RanMarine Technology

CEO Richard Hardiman developed and built the WasteShark, an Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV), with a purpose of cleaning up our oceans, ports, and for “serving the sea”. These drones are used to “eat” plastics and other litter; filter and test for chemicals from the water; and extract alien and pest vegetation. They also leverage the Internet-of-Things (IoT) which would allow WasteSharks to self-organize, communicate, and work together as a fleet. They are a recent graduate of PortXL Accelerator program and have already inked a deal with Port of Rotterdam.

We all share a deep respect for the sea, and with the increasing prevalence of corporate responsibility and the threat of climate change, we see more WasteSharks combing the waters for pollutants at a port terminal near you.

2. 300 Cubits

The “blockchain” is somewhat similar to Wikipedia in the sense that it is a decentralized, community resource that is modifiable and peer-reviewed for accuracy. Cryptocurrencies use a blockchain and allow for financial transactions to take place on a secure, yet publicly available and transparent digital ledger - no banks or accountants required. Industry booking practices (e.g., no-show, rolled bookings waste a reported $23 Billion annually, so it’s clear that a blockchain targeting this problem is likely to take off. The hard part is getting market adoption, but it seems their team is up to the task.

Enter the TEU Coin by Hong Kong tech company, 300Cubits, which has attracted mainstream media attention from Bloomberg. Even though the Bloomberg anchor didn’t seem to get it, perhaps the maritime sector will.

3. EmergeTMS

If you haven’t picked up on it yet, data, communication, and marketplaces are a massive component of the software innovation and change that is happening in the maritime and logistics industry. EmergeTMS is a FREE truck management software that allows shippers and their customers to more efficiently execute and optimize freight shipments, send quotes and tenders to their carriers, and also provides real-time tracking and streamlined communication. Talk about bang for your buck.

The company seems to be keeping a low profile - for now. We don’t anticipate that being the case for too long.


Augmented reality isn’t new, but advancements in computing power and hardware have propelled new uses and applications. An area where FEO AR can immediately have a potential impact is through their “Gem Vision” platform that overlays a computer user-interface over the real world to enhance vessel support. And like RanMarine, they’re also PortXL graduates.

Their team has created what appears to be a pretty robust support app which would allow engineers and maintenance on vessels to act quickly and collaborate with their peers remotely in more complex cases. This technology has the potential to save lives, ships, and we’re particularly looking forward to seeing the FEO AR’s team expansion into other maritime areas such as stevedoring.

5. Bunker-Ex

This London-based startup and broker also has built a digital platform to help facilitate, streamline, and bring transparency to the traditionally opaque bunker brokerage world. Similar to the concept of Online Travel Aggregator’s (ex. Priceline, BookIt) BunkerEx allows shipowners to view multiple offers from suppliers and also helps broker the transaction - for a reported and fixed fee 5x less than the industry average.

Fuel is such a critical component of maritime shipping that there’s potential for a massive impact in the bunkering business. We will be following Ishaan & Willem to see if they can make a splash as their business model appears to also resemble a maritime marketplace.

6. FlyMotion

Next up is one of our favorite technology companies and entrepreneurs located here in Florida, Ryan English of Flymotion Unmanned Systems. We run into the FM team at port conferences where they can be found educating port and terminal executives on safety, disaster response, and explaining how drones can improve safety and security endeavors. These drones can quickly anticipate, survey, and respond to a disaster in scenarios impossible or too dangerous for humans to accomplish. These functions include our seaports, and specifically, it makes sense for smaller ports with limited resources and personnel to fully leverage this technology.

Most recently here in South Florida, Ryan and his team were contracted and deployed by the State of Florida to aid in Hurricane Irma emergency response and recovery efforts. We will see more commercial drone applications in maritime very soon and look to Flymotion as the bellwether of this trend.

7. Turvo

Earlier this year, the elite team at Turvo announced a $25MM Series A round of funding to help fuel the growth of their collaborative logistics platform that “perfects the science of movement through collaboration”. I think it’s a fancy way to say “we’re going to have a massive impact” on the entire supply chain vertical through a modern platform that streamlines and helps shippers, brokers, and carriers collaborate. And we like huge impacts at Octopi.

This feat isn’t going to be easy by any means, but with $25 million in capital, team expertise, and an impressive roster of investors, they have a very strong shot.

8. Haven

Another player seeking to enhance supply chain and logistics efficiencies is Haven Inc. out of Silicon Valley, has also raised a significant amount of capital totaling $14MM. It appears as though there will be some healthy competition in the market between Haven, Turvo, and Emerge - which always seems to bring out the best for shippers.

Here’s to hoping Haven can continue to have an impact on trade - where they are saving shippers 6+ hours on a trade, providing 1200+ providers to choose from, and delivering 15% cost savings. It’s going to be fun to watch their growth.

9. Nautilus Labs

Last and certainly not least, there’s the New-York based Nautilus Labs whose innovative team is on a mission to “dramatically reduce fuel consumption in the maritime industry”. They’ve built a modern, cloud-based system leveraging big data to process vessel data to allow ship-operators to make better business decisions in real-time and improve overall fleet management.

They also count some respected venture capitalists and investors behind their $2MM in seed funding. Nautilus’ CEO, Anthony Dimare, and team also have the right startup background to complement their maritime and innovation expertise.

10. Octopi TOS (New Updates)

Yes, we were included in the last roundup. And yes, one might consider this a shameless plug but we are proud of what we build and count ourselves in good company with the young technology companies mentioned above.

We deploy new updates weekly and have added new features, functionality, and made other significant improvements to our terminal operating system:

  • Berth Planning/Berth Request form to streamline coordination between agent and terminal. Also, we’ve added a new berth schedule page allowing port terminals to quickly visualize their berth utilization: past, present, and future.
  • Vessel Planning & BAPLIE support. It’s been called the ‘sexiest BAPLIE viewer’ in the industry by experienced shipping experts.
  • Added support for the ANSI X12, a standard more commonly used in the USA. We’ve already supported the EDIFACT EDI standard for sharing information between port terminals and shipping lines.

Just as technology will always progress, we’ll continue to see new tech companies bubbling forth and making waves as “software continues to eat the [shipping] world”. In the meantime, please feel free to request a demo of Octopi and if you have any promising tech companies, you would like to suggest for Q4 2017, shoot us a message.