FourKites, a leader in real-time supply chain visibility, announced on Wednesday it has acquired Haven to create its visibility solution, Dynamic Ocean.
Haven is an international ocean shipping tracking and documentation platform, founded in 2014 to help build software for commodity producers and traders who were looking to save time managing their international logistics. The newly acquired company has raised $20.3 million in funding since inception.
FourKites’ chief executive officer, Matthew Elenjickal, discussed with FreightWaves the importance of the Haven acquisition and how it will improve the customer experience.
This question-and-answer interview was edited for clarity and length.
FREIGHTWAVES: Why was creating Dynamic Ocean important to the FourKites business model?
ELENJICKAL: “When it comes to global visibility platforms, ocean pricing takes a key role. Everything that you see, chances are that it was manufactured overseas. When you think about our customer base, Fortune 500 shippers, all of them have some sort of international operations. When they sign up with FourKites, they are looking for visibility across every transportation mode including ocean.
“We have been active in the space for some time and had some partnerships in the past to collect data, but we were not interested in combining that [partnership].
“What the current market has in mind and what the market is being sold is tracking containers. That is becoming a commodity. Many companies offer this visibility.
“We decided to build that in-house … then we looked at the market and said, ‘How do you define ocean freight visibility?’ We asked [customers], ‘Are you getting what you need by tracking containers?,’ and the answer from all of them was no.”
FREIGHTWAVES: What are these customers asking FourKites to help them with, and how does Haven help with those initiatives?
ELENJICKAL: “There are so many different things happening before a container gets on a ship line and after it is unloaded. … Before it gets on the liner, what is the booking process? Is it being booked in a timely fashion? Is it on the right vessel? Are the sailing schedules going to match?
“Once it gets off the ship at the port of discharge, there are so many documentation requirements. … We also learned there are usually 10 different parties between the origin, freight forwarder, trucking companies and the customs clearinghouse. When you put all of these [parties] together, only getting the location of the ship is pointless.
“This is where Haven comes into the picture. … It is an end-to-end platform [that] seamlessly manages ocean transportation. Starting with supporting the booking process, it will help you communicate with steamship lines, create the bookings and change the bookings. It has a robust documentation platform and you can define the rules by the country of origin and country of discharge, and you can ask what are the documents needed for a seamless transfer, who is responsible for that, and at what point should I upload the documents?
“[With the partnership] we will have a collaboration platform where all of those 10 parties can log in and send messages between each other.
“We said, ‘If we can bring all of these things to market together, it will be a game changer.’”
FREIGHTWAVES: In a way, are you bringing the same strategy that you have in domestic shipping to the international space?
ELENJICKAL: “Yes, visibility is more than the location. … The document issue is a big piece. Most [customers] said 70% of the time my containers are getting stuck at the port because the documents are not ready. So how do you bring a solution to the market to support that? That is where Haven is coming in.
“[Haven] knows the ocean space and we are getting an international team [with the acquisition]. … We are getting a team in the Philippines, we are getting a team in Singapore, we are getting a team in Sweden. This will really accelerate the global presence of FourKites, along with capabilities as well.”
FREIGHTWAVES: I can imagine there is nothing worse than waiting for your product to unload from a container ship in LA, then you finally find a truck in this capacity market, to find out the paperwork was wrong the whole time?
ELENJICKAL: “It happens every day! People know that this is a problem.
“Somebody has to improve the container tracking business. How are you communicating with the parties that are a part of the tracking? You still have to call these people. We want to create a platform, not just a product, for ocean [shipping].”
FREIGHTWAVES: When will this be available to customers?
ELENJICKAL: “Immediately. This has been in process for a while. We have been working on it for some time. [Haven] knows the space, the product is what matters and their people.”