Career Site – Transporeon.4.future



Interviews from inside our technology incubator for fostering innovations in sustainable supply chain technology

Transporeon is dedicated to becoming the leading logistics platform supporting sustainability. At our recent Hackathon in support of the ALICE Roadmap for Decarbonization, we welcomed students and Transporeon employees to team up and pitch viable business solutions. The winning pitch is selected by Transporeon to be taken to market as an MVP.

The Challenges

We prioritized five challenges faced by the planet and our customers that must be solved using innovative thinking and advanced technology. Five teams made up of two external students and four Transporeon colleagues were allocated to and selected for each challenge to create a strong and diverse mix of experience and expertise.

How to host the ultimate party with Martin Freinatis

In 2021, Transporeon’s first ever technology incubator welcomed submissions from students as well as internal employees to foster innovation for sustainable solutions in supply chain technology.

This open call tasked teams to develop and pitch a viable solution to solve one of the five most pressing questions of the industry:

● How can we optimize empty mile usage?

● How can we measure, visualize, and optimize a key environmental indicator?

● How can we plan heterogeneous transport with a synchro-tender?

● How can we improve our current ERP synchro-modality systems?

● How can we synchronize EU port slot management?

The winning teams, selected by a jury of industry experts, received support from Transporeon to continue working on these projects, including a trip to Brussels to present their ideas to ALICE (the Alliance for Logistics Innovation by Cooperation in Europe).

These interviews were conducted during the incubator and have been edited and condensed for clarity

Reducing Empty Mileage by using network effects

We spoke with Martin Freinatis, IT Project Manager at Transporeon and Team Captain of TP4F Team Red. Recognized by his colleagues for his free spirit and passion for pitching, Martin’s cool, calm and collected attitude resonated with the judges. Curious to know exactly what’s involved in incubating solutions with potential to help save the planet? Read on to find out.

Key environmental indicators

We spoke with Lukas Kramer, a Sales Specialist at Transporeon, living in Berlin. With a passion for data-driven innovation, emerging technologies, and digital business models, Lukas and his team addressed the challenge of creating a Key Environmental Indicator. As a top three finalist, we interviewed Lukas during the hackathon and again after the final winners were announced.

Synchro Tender (intermodality)

We spoke with Kevin Mitchell, a Business Consultant at Transporeon who has also previously worked as a Project Manager. Kevin’s team addressed the challenge of synchro tenders and intermodality. As a top three finalist, we interviewed Kevin during the hackathon and again after the final winners were announced.

Reducing Empty Mileage by using network effects

Hi Martin, Remind us what you’re working on

The concept was inspired by Cryptocurrencies, the network they build, and network effects based on connections! We asked ourselves the question, how can we support the creation of valuable connections within our network. imagine you’re at college and the only person you know is your mentor. Imagine you’re at a party where you don’t know anyone...well, we want to be the host of a party, a great party with engaging conversations. But networking is nothing new. And so, matchmaking was born.

And right now we’re really busy in the Incubation Phase developing our matchmaking solution. It will be the largest matchmaking platform on the market, which considers the geographical distance between shippers loading locations and carriers truck as a main factor. We’ve interviewed a long list of shippers and carriers, as well as Emmanuele Cabau from the EU Commission and Fernando Liesa from ALICE to draw from their expertise and get as many different points of view as possible.

The Incubation Phase involves everything from gathering feedback, to working with legal, performing data analysis, working on UX, piloting, figuring out pricing, and connecting with other existing projects. We will pilot the MVP with BA Glass, an existing shipper customer, and this will provide insights into exactly how the price and empty kilometers change as a result.

What has been the biggest challenge so far?

Some of the biggest challenges have been how to identify and measure the amount of empty kilometers we’re faced with, and to get the price point right.

We know that empty miles account for 20% of all transports, and in turn result in 12% of the total cost to the shipper. Our initial aim was to reduce empty miles by 30%, then we discovered that when carriers save on empty miles, they actually pass almost all of cost savings on.

Pricing expert, Caroline Green, has been a fantastic support to ensure we’re creating more incentives for carriers to be on our platform independently of shippers.

What inspired you to take part in TP4F?

A colleague encouraged me to take part, and when I read the word ‘pitch’, I couldn’t resist. Others describe me as a free spirit and I’m a passionate speaker, and I knew my colleagues at Transporeon would be bursting with ideas. So I decided to go for it!

Don´t keep your ideas to yourself.

How would you describe your experience through the whole process, hackathon & incubation phase?

It was intense, in a good way! The atmosphere kept us focused on getting things done. Our team spent five hours nonstop, together on the task. The journey from start to finish also required patience, and a great deal of effort. My role as presenter came about organically, with full support from my team. The team’s expertise in marketing and UX really helped us tell our story on an emotional level and made sure our pitch deck stood out.

Pitching in front of an EU Commission representative was an incredible experience and motivated me to do my absolute best. We were the second team to pitch, so we had a long tense wait to find out the winners – but it was worth it! Celebrating the win with our senior colleagues was a lot of fun.

What is your one piece of advice you’d share based on your experience?

Don’t keep your ideas to yourself. Use everyone, and I mean everyone, to test them out and get feedback. Be brave and ask the C-Suite what they think. The value in doing so is huge. And you’ll find with every new perspective someone offers, you won’t discard ideas, you’ll simply improve them.

What came next?

Our product was featured at the Transporeon Carrier Convention 2021 and we also presented at the 8th International Physical Internet Conference organized by ALICE back in June. TP4F is a gift that keeps on giving fantastic opportunities to participate in change-making discussion alongside industry experts.

This may have been my first hackathon, but it certainly won’t be my last!

Thank you Martin!

Key environmental indicators

Hi Lukas, what can you tell us about the product you are working on?

We are working on a service to provide the missing piece of the puzzle in supply chain emissions transparency. We want to create environmental transparency over the entire supply chain covering all transport legs and vehicle modes.

In short, we built the market standard end-to-end solution for CO2 management.

We want to create a tool where every buyer will be able to decide what footprint they want to leave with their purchase decision. The customer will be able to see how big their CO2 footprint is, per transport, per carrier, per corridor or even per SKU.

How did you get started with this project?

We tried to talk to as many shippers and carriers as possible. We first talked with 30 existing and potential customers to understand what their challenges are. We also pulled existing internal data plus market standards to make our own calculations.

We have two highly skilled and dedicated data scientists on our team, which was a great help.

We worked on it intensively for eight weeks. In fact, it was much more time consuming than we originally thought. And that was because we were all so committed to the topic. We all wanted to create something cool and sustainable in an area where there is so much potential.

We had daily standup meetings as well as weekly check-ins with our sales and business development teams, data and product teams, and research teams, as well as the students we were working with.

How did the application process go?

For me, the application was about how to build the best team. Who would I like to work with? Before we went into the hackathon, we already had three people on board. We really fought like lions to get cool colleagues to join the team.

How did the hackathon itself go? What were the days like?

The hackathon was amazingly intense. We really didn't know what to expect, and I was surprised how much we managed to achieve in two days. Funnily enough, the process was in line with Tuckman's phase model: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing. In fact, we were still developing the concept an hour before the pitch. Then we broke it down to the minimum. We were mega proud of the result.

What was your biggest challenge?

I think the biggest challenge was to break down our wealth of ideas into a 3-minute pitch. There were moments when we felt it wouldn't work. We spent most of the time trying to find a common idea, because we had a lot of small ideas that merged into one big idea that everyone had to agree on. So, we were afraid we wouldn't meet the deadline.

How did the MVP and pitch go?

With our MVP, we can measure CO2 emissions on the basis of real-time data and benchmark with the KEI — Key Environmental Indicator. Based on the KEI, the carrier, as well as the shipper, has the possibility to benchmark itself based on sustainable performance and position itself positively in the market.

The KEI works on the shipment level, the truck level (comparing two drivers), country corridors, carrier level, and shipper level. A shipper’s KEI is a sum of its carrier KEIs. From what we have learned, that up to 20% of emissions are in the hands of the drivers and it’s driving patterns.

An important lesson we learned from the final pitch was, that we over-prepared for the pitch itself and under-prepared for the questions afterwards. Still, the event itself was very professional executed. The whole organizational team, led by Serge and Natasha, have done a great job.

We will continue to work on our program and will continue to do so until we are stopped.

What advice would you give to others who may be interested in participating in an event like this?

Joining a hackathon like this, you can only win!

This initiative gives you a chance to break out of your microcosm and participate in something bigger. The whole thing is not a tea party, you have to get out of your comfort zone. But it will get you one step ahead. Therefore, I can highly recommend every colleague to take the chance and participate in future initiatives like these.

It’s useful to think in advance about the personalities you want to work with and colleagues you haven't had the opportunity to work with before.

It’s also highly important to develop the solution in collaboration with the customer. Identify your target customer and the problem statement, ally with the target audience at customer side, and start with the biggest problem the customer has first.

In addition to that, I recommend the book “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries.

One thing is for sure: there is great power when everyone is driven by the same vision and works towards the same goal. A lot of power is multiplied when you have a team that complements each other well. Think outside the box and always make sure that everyone can contribute their talents in the best possible way.

Otherwise, have fun!

What’s next for this project?

We’ve already incorporated the feedback we received during the final pitch into our concept.

Really for us, the best thing that could have happened was that we didn’t win. Even though it was hard to understand at first — we knew we had something the market needed — it was important to get some distance. We took time to reflect and then went back into the project again putting more emphasis on certain topics.

We are continuing to work with customers. The product-market fit is there without exception. We get open ears, especially at the decision-maker level, also internally. Our colleagues in sales and product management involve us in their tasks. Everyone is open to help.

With our networking and our depth of integration, we are very well positioned for sustainable innovation. Next we will continue to work on our program and will continue to do so until we are stopped.

Synchro Tender (intermodality)

Hi Kevin, what is the idea of your team?

We want to develop new methods for minimizing CO2 emissions while giving users better access to green options. So our idea was to build a platform that provides an automatic carbon footprint calculation so customers can make decisions based on more than just cost.

We already have a sourcing module with Ticontract, so the question was how to build on that, making this world of greener tendering easily accessible via intelligent recommendations.

We spoke with customers about what would be important to them, and learned that things like route calculation are immensely important — the process has to work automatically.

What was your first impression of Transporeon4Future?

My first impression was: This is a smart move, since topics like sustainability and green logistics are becoming more and more popular. I was motivated to participate, but it took me a while to decide to get involved since it is a challenge to balance daily work with a project of this size. But in the end I figured,that I have an idea for the problem and gave myself a little push.

How did the hackathon go for your team?

Apart from some technical problems, the whole process was great. The keynote speakers at the beginning were very inspiring. And then everyone had the opportunity to pitch an idea or introduce themselves as a collaborator in 60 seconds.

I presented my idea, hoping to inspire and engage colleagues who didn’t have an idea yet. After a short team finding phase, we had two very intense days. Lots of painting, lots of ideas. To get a focused pitch you have to invest a surprising amount of work. But it was also really fun.

How did you structure your teamwork?

Everything took place online via MS-teams. We had a very loose, equal structure. We decided quite late who should do the final pitch — but it wasn’t like there was a “captain” in charge of the work.

We did have a special one on our team, Max Hanselmann, who has an exceptional talent for drawing, and he produced our sketches for the final slides. But otherwise it was very organic how we worked together.

What was your biggest challenge?

The idea itself was quite simple, so we went into details quickly, which then became our biggest challenge. We maybe spent too much time on the little details when it wasn’t really relevant.

The jury was composed of people who know a lot about logistics as well as people from other backgrounds, so we were asking ourselves, “What is the right tone for this jury? And how do we keep it simple while still being specific?” So we re-focused on the pitch just in time rather than further refining the process idea.

You can learn new things or discover new strengths and usually from such projects come new opportunities, things you didn't foresee.

What are some of your key takeaways from this process?

As a team, we went “full throttle on the highway” right away, and we’re still in that mode, so there’s no time to review right now.

What I learned as a Business Consultant, though, is more about what our benefits are. I pitch differently today than I would a few years ago. It was certainly a challenge to structure a pitch from scratch. How to convey that one message – that’s the art.

The pitch training was very interesting. I had to learn how to conceptualize my own product idea, including marketing, which I’d never had to think about before. That was very helpful to learn.

What was the best moment for you?

For me the best moment was when we won second place with our pitch at the end of the hackathon. I actually jumped in the air. It was two intense days with a lot of work. It was very worth it, and I’m very happy.

How did the MVP and pitch go?

We don’t have a finished product yet. We lacked programming resources on the team to make that happen. And apart from that, eight weeks were just enough to refine the concept and design, but not to program anything.

Two weeks before the pitch we started setting up what was supposed to be our final slides. We shared them with an external consultant for feedback, and then we completely rebuilt the pitch from scratch. Everything had to be changed. The final week we spent a lot of time refining and practicing the pitch.

The pitch itself was a day full of tension. But the session itself was extremely cool. All the pitches were at a very high level. It was a totally interesting afternoon.

The hardest part was waiting in the lounge for the jury to announce the decision of who won. We were a bit disappointed not to win, but I directly congratulated Martin. He and Team Red did a magnificent job in solving the problem they opted for. But we got great feedback that our idea was a modification or improvement on an existing product, which we understand really well. We are still motivated to develop a product that can also be realized.

What advice would you give to others who may be interested in participating in an event like this?

It’s always good to come up with new ideas and take an external view. You will have good and bad phases, but it’s worth it in the end. You have to be able to deal with defeat.

It's a very intense time, but you gain new perspectives and new roles to explore that get you out of the routine. You can learn new things or discover new strengths and usually from such projects come new opportunities, things you didn't foresee.

Would you participate again in such a project?

I would love to do the whole thing again. We did it virtually because of Corona, and I would like to experience it again being able to meet physically. When you interact physically, it's a completely different level.

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