Our CEO's reflections on Greywing's journey with the Smart Port Challenge.
Published on 3rd Nov 2022
3 minutes read
Pier 71’s Smart Port Challenge was the hardest maritime accelerator to get into.
🥇 When I applied to Entrepreneur First, I got in on the first try.
🥇 When Hrishi and I applied to the Captains Table we got in on the first try.
🥈 When we applied to Y-Combinator we got in on the second try.
🥉 We made it into Pier 71 third time lucky! 🍀
Proof that persistence pays off!
God loves a trier.
On a serious note we were excited to join Pier 71’s Smart Port Challenge. It is the pre-eminent incubator for maritime start ups globally and has seen great success (the likes of Ent-Vision and DLT Ledgers). I had often wondered to myself as I hopped on a plane to Hamburg, Athens or Cyprus to see customers whether it would be better to work with customers at our doorstep. So we began our journey to build closer relationships in Singapore with the local shipping community this September.
“Like all well laid plans, Greywing did not survive first contact with the customer.”
SPC was a great opportunity to build our profile in the APAC region, amongst the circa 100 vessel operators, who are within a couple of miles of where we have offices in Singapore. If I am honest, I wasn’t sure about going into SPC given how many man hours it would take - as a company trying to get to market before Series A - we felt like we may have been a little too far along to afford that kind of investment.
But as it turned out we were at just the right stage to go through SPC. The mentoring team encouraged us to break away from pre-conceptions that we had about what we were doing and to focus on engaging with customers and exploring their needs.
If you had spoken to me heading into SPC, I would have said something along the lines of
“Well we optimise anything that gets on or off a ship, except for cargo - right now we are focused on crew changes.”
…with the polish and flair of someone who has said those lines perhaps 10,000 times over the past three years (A little like my Chopstick Story… those who know, know) I would intone…
“We have already solved crew changes, I think the big question that we would like to answer at SPC is whether we focus on optimising spare parts , ships stores, consumables, lubes or bunkers?”
I’d have said this whilst all along being certain that the next vertical we would automate in optimising what gets on or off a vessel would have been spare parts. I was convinced our talks with customers would bear out my intuition.
It was the obvious next step.
Of course, like all well laid plans it did not survive first contact with the customer. We heard time and time again that we were barking up the wrong tree. It became apparent that there were some other problems in the maritime industry that we were better positioned to solve. We had unique expertise that we had developed in operations, crewing, coordination, integration of our customer's supply chains and delivery of delightful User Experiences and as it turns out what we have learnt so far at SPC is that we wont be applying that experience to Spare Parts, at least not next.
So what was the key insight about what we should work on from the customers?
Well thats still under wraps for the moment, but all I’ll say is that if you operate vessels carrying hydrocarbons, or like software that pre-empts your planning requirements - get in touch with us.
SPC has been a lot fun and there are some great mentors and fellow participants in the programme, I am forever grateful that they serve dinner before we kick off on a Thursday as inevitably I have not eaten by the time I turn up.
We have a roadmap built out for an exciting new product that will leverage our experience in AI, and it will be awesome to get into the market, customers are excited - and so are we!
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