Silicon Valley has come in with an initial $2.5m to support Shipamax, a new bulk broking tool.
Shipamax’s founders say they are “on a mission to fix the ship booking experience for transporting dry bulk commodities”, according to a release today.
The $2.5m seed investment is led by Cherubic Ventures with participation from AME Cloud and FF Angel.
Shipamax noted in a release today: “Booking a ship for dry bulk commodities is a slow and painful process. Data is siloed, making it hard to work as a team – shipowners and brokers receive in excess of 5,000 emails daily. Administrative costs are incredibly high with room for error every step of the way.”
In the intense debate about the future of shipbroking, much of which has taken place on this site over the first few months of this year, Shipamax has a different vision for the future – one that keeps the current ecosystem in place.
Shipamax says its vision is to become the platform of the industry – replacing the thousands of unnecessary emails, siloed excel files and instant messages between players required for each booking.
Shipamax is using technology to bring communications, data and market insight into one platform supporting the dry bulk shipping industry’s move into the digital age.
Jenna Brown, co-founder and CEO of Shipamax, commented: “We estimate over 50% of the work in bulk shipping is centred around communications. Empowering employees with intuitive technology to increase the efficiency of these interactions will transform this industry in the next five years.”
Shipamax originally launched as a tech driven shipbroker, arising from the founders’ frustrations with the ship booking process. However, they quickly felt that the problem was not the brokers, but the process itself. After adapting their product to this need, they started pilots in January and have now successfully rolled out Shipamax to shipping companies around the world.
Founders Jenna Brown and Fabian Blaicher have background in the shipping industry combined with technology and startup experience. After working for RWE Supply & Trading, Brown most recently worked at London’s fintech GoCardless. Blaicher, meanwhile, is a published computer scientist after starting his first software company age 18.
Shipamax is focused on dry bulk ships, an industry, the company claimed today, is “virtually untouched” by startup technology.
Cherubic Ventures is an early stage technology focused venture capital firm based in Silicon Valley and Greater China. Founded by angel investor Matt Cheng in 2010, Cherubic Ventures has invested in over 100 companies across Silicon Valley and greater China, including Flexport, Hyperloop One, Wish, and Ring.
AME Cloud, another investor, is the technology innovation investment arm of Jerry Yang, co-founder of Yahoo!, while FF Angel is the early stage investment vehicle of Founders Fund, a venture capital firm run by Peter Thiel’s fund, the PayPal co-founder.
Speaking exclusively with Splash, Brown said the difference between Shipamax and the likes of Ocean Freight Exchange and OpenSea.pro is that her company is not a brokerage house.
“We are a pure technology layer that just helps the whole ecosystem communicate more efficiently. Plus we don’t outsource and have deep tech backgrounds to build in house,” Brown said.
Compared to many other sectors, dry bulk, Brown said, has been left behind by tech changes.
“If you look at fintech, there’s startups left, right and centre trying to make the user experience more seamless on every single banking product that exists,” Brown said, adding: “I think one of the key reasons for this is that [dry bulk] is a relatively closed off industry – so there’s less interaction with tech talent that might try to build this technology.”