Navigating Change: Nextvoyage for Shipping Startups

a bulk vessels in the background with ice flows on the river in the foreground

One opener we see frequently about the maritime industry is that it is difficult to adopt new technology or change practices within an organization. However, in our experience at Nextvoyage, working with commercial management teams in the bulk shipping market, this perception is far from accurate. The maritime sector is in constant flux due to changes in global trade, new regulations, emerging technologies, and proactive individuals seizing opportunities, and change is an everyday part of life for shipping companies.

Nextvoyage specializes in the bulk freight management side of shipping, and we build a freight management platform that is suitable for owners, operators, traders, and charterers of all sizes. Working with clients at all scales gives us insights into the change management challenges companies face, from globally distributed teams of hundreds, to smaller organizations just starting up. Today, we’d like to focus on this second group.

In this dynamic environment, individuals, akin to technology start-up founders, play a pivotal role in driving change. These shipping entrepreneurs identify under served markets, possess specialized domain knowledge, and assemble talented teams to meet client demands dissatisfied with outdated practices. These visionaries secure funding and, much like their tech counterparts, propel the industry forward.

Regardless of how a shipping entrepreneur embarks on their journey, it is crucial to equip themselves with tools to realize their plans swiftly. These tools should facilitate critical decision-making, track progress, and enable informed pivoting if needed. However, these tools should also seamlessly integrate into the background; a shipping team’s essence lies in fixtures, vessels, and voyages, not the software it employs.

An ideal software tool for a shipping startup must adhere to key criteria: implementing best practices without obstructing, delivering on promises without over committing, and offering valuable opinions. Following these principles ensures software benefits a startup naturally. Let’s delve into each criterion.

The first thing to consider is that many tools used by the shipping industry will be industry-specific tools. These are tools that are designed to address specific business workflow requirements. Features within this software must conform to existing industry expectations and traditions, while surfacing the benefits of enterprise software such as accountability, transparency, operational risk mitigation, and controls. Striking a balance between tradition and control, the software encourages best practices within a startup organization.

Maintaining focus on the software’s purpose is crucial for developers to adhere to best practices. Good software design emphasizes building software that does one thing well. Software should serve a specific purpose and should avoid becoming over encumbered with too many extraneous goals.  When a software package aligns with its defined purpose, developers establish clear expectations, avoiding over commitment. This clarity builds trust between the startup and the software provider.

Opinions are the third essential element for a startup’s software partner. Informed opinions shape best practices and guide promises. A vendor’s ability to express their design choices, articulate how their software works, and provide insights expedites decision-making for startups. Sharing opinions helps startups discern if a vendor aligns with their goals, promoting quicker decision-making.

At Nextvoyage, we prioritize the needs of startup operations in our software development. Drawing on decades of experience in voyage management workflows, we have integrated best practices throughout our system. Our alerts, user roles, and hand-offs streamline operations without being overly obstructive. We remain focused on delivering an optimal Voyage Management experience while collaborating with partners to offer integrated solutions, providing users the flexibility to shape their maritime technology landscape. Our commitment to your bottom line underscores our belief that there’s room for diverse solutions in meeting your requirements.

Author

Jonathan McLean

Jonathan McLean

About Nextvoyage

Nextvoyage Maritime Software Pte. Ltd. (“Nextvoyage”) is a developer of freight management solutions for the maritime shipping industry. Founded in 2020, Nextvoyage offers a modern, cloud-based Software as a Service (“SaaS”) solution for ship owners and operators, as well as commodity traders and producers. Nextvoyage’s solution provides a complete end-to-end freight management workflow, including risk management, estimation & planning, voyage management, post fixture, and voyage accounting.