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Commentary: SEDNA Systems improves how teams work worldwide

Startup helps employees focus on substantive tasks through better management of work-related email

Brian Aoaeh looks for SEDNA Systems’ secret sauce for his AI in Supply Chain series. (Image: SEDNA Systems)

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of FreightWaves or its affiliates.

In this installment of the AI in Supply Chain series (#AIinSupplyChain), we explore how SEDNA Systems, an early-stage startup based in London, is helping large teams in companies all around the world manage their work-related email more effectively so that individual employees can focus more of their time on getting substantive work done in the limited time that each employee has.

SEDNA Systems was founded in May 2017. It has 58 employees distributed across offices in London, Singapore and Vancouver, British Columbia.

Intelligent team communication software

So what does SEDNA Systems do for its customers?

Mike Chalfen is a venture capitalist based in London. He co-led SEDNA Systems’ recently closed Series A round of financing. In “Why I invested in SEDNA Systems,” he writes, “It is smart team communication software that classifies, time-stamps, and unifies messages, data, and documentation in one system. Team collaboration and actions become searchable, auditable, and aligned. Contexts for decisions made in complex business processes become scrutable.”

What is SEDNA Systems’ secret sauce?

Lakshmi Baskaran, VP of engineering at SEDNA Systems, explained that, “At the core of what we’re doing is breaking teams free from the constraints — and endless cycles — of traditional email. We’re creating a modern, agile and programmable solution to optimize team communication and workflows.”

She emphasized that “SEDNA’s search allows faster turnaround of search results in a fraction of a second.”

Baskaran added, “SEDNA is built to unify with any enterprise application that has an API exposed for integration. This enables our users to interact with multiple applications and navigate end-to-end business workflows, all from within SEDNA. Our customers can build their internal application using our low code toolkit into their message stream, unlocking huge value.” 

Customers and competition

Bill Dobie, founder and CEO of SEDNA Systems, tells me that SEDNA has 70 customers using its product to enable the work done by more than 2000 teams distributed across 80 countries. Glencore Agriculture, NORDEN, Bunge and Western Bulk are some of the companies that are using SEDNA Systems’ platform to facilitate team collaboration.

The team’s initial customer development centered around the freight logistics and commodities industries because of Dobie’s prior familiarity with those markets. However, the team has begun to find interest from companies in other industries characterized by similar needs for team-based or shared work communication and collaboration related to complex transaction- and project-based work.

Jacob Koch Blicher, operations lead at NORDEN, is what one might describe as a super-user of SEDNA; in addition to using SEDNA, he has helped to develop some of the key features that are used daily by employees and teams in the operations department at NORDEN.

I asked him to help me understand how SEDNA has changed how he gets work done and how it has improved the daily productivity of employees at NORDEN.

He explained that “Communication via email is still the most common tool in our industry and that’s why SEDNA is needed. The system makes it very fast to navigate and organize the thousands of emails we receive every day within NORDEN. It is all about being more efficient and saving time, but most importantly we now have a system which meaningfully helps employees make the workday as optimal as possible and frees up time for direct service internally and externally.”

NORDEN is based in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was founded in 1871 and provides global dry cargo and product tankers and related professional services to the world’s trading community. It is listed on the Nasdaq Copenhagen stock exchange as a part of the OMX Nordic Mid Cap index.

Team communications, collaboration and workplace productivity — recent market background

To give me a sense of investor interest in team communications, collaboration and workplace productivity, I asked John Paul Hampstead, director, Passport Research, and head of communities at FreightWaves, about the recent news and funding announcements relevant to SEDNA’s market.

It has been busy.

Hampstead tells me that the most noteworthy announcements are:

Generally when a startup raises capital from venture capitalists, the post-money valuation is equal to the sum of the pre-money valuation and the amount of capital raised.

The team at SEDNA says that Front is SEDNA’s closest competitor. However, Dobie is quick to point out that the two products are quite different from one another.

According to a report published by Grand View Research in August, the global market for workplace productivity, collaboration and team communications software should be worth $102.98 billion by 2027, growing at a compound annual rate of 13.4%.

What’s next for SEDNA Systems?

In May, SEDNA recruited Avishalom “Vish” Shalit as its new head of data science and analytics.

He reminded me that “Email is universal, it is the open standard for communicating in business, which makes it central to how people across the world get their work done. So much of how organisations operate is buried in these emails, and there is a wealth of knowledge and experience that could be translated to value.”

His goal for 2021 is for SEDNA to go beyond the automatic organization and routing of email. The platform will go a step further by connecting the dots more holistically by extracting the valuable business and operational information that is encoded and trapped within the email communications flowing in and out of the companies that are SEDNA’s customers.

Natural language processing (NLP) is the subfield of computer science that is focused on the use of software to automatically manipulate natural language such that machines can process and analyze the content of human communication from speech, documents and other communication mediums. The goal of NLP is to enable the combination of people and computer systems to become more efficient and effective at making decisions and solving problems.

As Aïda Bejgane, head of marketing at SEDNA, put it to me during our conversation, the team at SEDNA is proud of what they have built and the problems that they are helping SEDNA’s customers solve when it comes to team collaboration and productivity through better internal and external communications. The most exciting goal the team is now pursuing is for SEDNA to become central to how customers interact with other systems inside their organization and link that work to other companies in their network.


If you are a team working on innovations that you believe have the potential to significantly refashion global supply chains, we’d love to tell your story in FreightWaves. I am easy to reach on LinkedIn and Twitter. Alternatively, you can reach out to any member of the editorial team at FreightWaves at [email protected]

Dig deeper into the #AIinSupplyChain Series with FreightWaves.

●     Commentary: Optimal Dynamics – the decision layer of logistics? (July 7)

●     Commentary: Combine optimization, machine learning and simulation to move freight (July 17)

●     Commentary: SmartHop brings AI to owner-operators and brokers (July 22)

●     Commentary: Optimizing a truck fleet using artificial intelligence (July 28)

●     Commentary: FleetOps tries to solve data fragmentation issues in trucking (Aug. 5)

●     Commentary: Bulgaria’s Transmetrics uses augmented intelligence to help customers (Aug. 11)

●     Commentary: Applying AI to decision-making in shipping and commodities markets (Aug. 27)

●     Commentary: The enabling technologies for the factories of the future (Sept. 3)

●     Commentary: The enabling technologies for the networks of the future (Sept. 10)

●     Commentary: Understanding the data issues that slow adoption of industrial AI (Sept. 16)

●     Commentary: How AI and machine learning improve supply chain visibility, shipping insurance (Sept. 24)

●     Commentary: How AI, machine learning are streamlining workflows in freight forwarding, customs brokerage (Oct. 1)

●     Commentary: Can AI and machine learning improve the economy? (Oct. 8)

●     Commentary: Savitude and StyleSage leverage AI, machine learning in fashion retail (Oct. 15)

●     Commentary: How Japan’s ABEJA helps large companies operationalize AI, machine learning (Oct. 26)

●     Commentary: Pathmind applies AI, machine learning to industrial operations (Nov. 20)

●     Commentary: Chain of Demand applies AI, machine learning to retail supply chain profitability (Nov. 26)

●     Commentary: AI, machine learning generate insights on global ag for Gro Intelligence (Dec. 10)

Author’s disclosure: SEDNA Systems issued me a small number of stock options in October 2019 for my role advising the team while they navigated the fundraising process leading up to the company successfully closing its seed round in 2019.


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Brian Aoaeh

Brian Laung Aoaeh writes about the reinvention of global supply chains, from the perspective of an early-stage technology venture capitalist. He is the co-founder of REFASHIOND Ventures, an early stage venture capital fund that is being built to invest in startups creating innovations to refashion global supply chain networks. He is also the co-founder of The Worldwide Supply Chain Federation (The New York Supply Chain Meetup). His background covers the gamut from scientific research, data and statistical analysis, corporate development and investing for a single-family office, and then building an early stage venture fund from scratch - immediately prior to REFASHIOND. Brian holds an MBA in General Management, with a specialization in Financial Instruments and Markets, from NYU’s Stern School of Business. He also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics & Physics from Connecticut College. Brian is a charter holding member of the CFA Institute. He is also an adjunct professor of operations management in the Department of Technology Management and Innovation at the New York University School of Engineering.