Freight tech leader gives his take on the industry’s past, future
Brian Aeoah, co-founder and General Partner of REFASHIOND, interviewed Graham Parker, CEO of Kontainers, at FreightWaves LIVE Chicago about his experience and advice as a successful leader in the freight tech industry.
“I was always an entrepreneur, even as a kid,” Parker said. “I opened a corner candy store when I was 11 and moved to home deliveries a year later.”
In the middle of his college years, while seeking a degree in business, Parker got the opportunity to join a shipping company and dropped out of school. “My family was shocked, … but I was just fascinated by the shipping industry. It was a completely different world,” he recalled.
At age 22, Parker decided to start his own freight brokerage, with the goal of reaching $1 million in sales in the first year. “I knew it was a crazy goal, but I did it and then doubled in sales each year following until I reached just under $20 million.”
It was around 2013 when he noticed the lack of communication in the freight industry and saw an opportunity to develop a freight technology company. “I wanted to build something that would enable and empower shipping brands,” Parker said.
This idea led Parker to reach out to his friend, computer scientist Charles Lee. “We got together,” Parker said, “and we thought, ‘hey, if you’ve got somebody from a technology background and somebody from a freight background, you can surely build something meaningful,’ and that’s what led to the idea of Kontainers.”
After evaluating the state of the market at that time, Parker believed that many of the freight software companies were not producing customer-centered software. He wanted to build a product to truly benefit his customers, and in order to do that, it had to be deliverable in an easy and time-efficient way.
Kontainers is now being used by five of the top shipping brands in the market and in over a dozen countries. It recently launched a product for small shipping brands as well, according to Parker.
In the next decade, Parker expects massive change in the freight technology industry. “Traditionally, shipping has been very much an ‘offline industry’ when it comes to sharing data,” he said. “It’s natural to expect many companies to withhold sharing data for the sake of competition, but that is going to change.” Parker predicts there will soon be no hesitation when it comes to sharing data and building platforms for the betterment of the industry as a whole.