As fast as a plane ticket or a hotel room, you can book a sea container for export via HelloContainer. As icing on the cake, the new Goese company offers a unique service. “You can also see the C02 emissions of the container you book. And the greener you book, the more discount. Green behavior is rewarded with us ”, says operational director Jos de Jonge.
HelloContainer is a completely self-developed online platform where the visitor can book a container in half an hour, AD writes . Much faster than what established freight forwarders offer. De Jonge: “The container market is unclear. On average it takes four to five hours, but sometimes much longer. We reduce that to half an hour. This saves customers costs, especially if they are active on the world market. Every dime counts there. After all, time is money. ”
The shipping freight chain is quite conservative, he emphasizes. De Jonge, with a background in shipping and logistics, and co-founders Kees Koopman and Ron de Wit saw opportunities to take a different approach. Koopman already had an online platform for documents and packages. De Wit is an experienced IT specialist. The three already shared a stand at the Contacta network event in Goes in 2016.
The customer has complete control over the process
The troika decided to join forces and launched a test version of HelloContainer last year. Completely built in-house. The three could have bought an existing digital system, but nothing met their requirements. De Wit: “We chose to create a digital platform ourselves. The advantage for the customer is that he is in control of the entire process. From the search to the arrival of the container at its destination. He can also determine the CO2 footprint himself. And all that within half an hour. Just as fast as booking a plane ticket or a hotel room. ”
HelloContainer establishes connections between transport companies, shipping companies and customs. All unnecessary links in the chain have been removed. Data is collected by robots that scour the internet. But how do you determine how much C02 is involved in the transport of a container? Initially that was a brain teaser because there was little data available. De Jonge and De Wit: “Ultimately, we were able to obtain that data through the NGO association, the European Federation for Transport and Living Environment.”
Encouraging companies to more sustainable logistics
HelloContainer is now on 5,000 booked containers per year. Depending on the chosen service, this costs between 40 and 100 euros per container. Anyone who books ‘green’, ie chooses a container with a low CO2 footprint, will receive a discount. It should encourage companies to use more sustainable logistics, De Jonge emphasizes.
HelloContainer mainly focuses on the transport of vegetables, potatoes and fruit in refrigerated containers from the Netherlands and Belgium. First-time customers, such as the onion company Top Onions and The Beetroute as a supplier of red beets, are particularly close at home on HelloContainer. But other products are also welcome. “For example, we are in talks with steel producer Outokumpu to link their system to HelloContainer. And we are working on a trial in Spain. ” Import is not yet possible. This requires a digital link with seaports and the trio is not that far yet.
“The container market is unclear. On average it takes four to five hours, but sometimes much longer. We reduce that to half an hour”
Jos de Jonge, director of HelloContainer
Growing to scale-up status
The aim is now to increase the number of bookings to several tens of thousands of containers per year. For this, the start-up has to grow into a scale-up. That costs money, but it is coming. The Zeeland Participation Fund (ZPF) has become a shareholder and is investing 350,000 euros in HelloContainer. The ZPF is a collaboration of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate, the province, development company Impuls, ABN Amro, ZLM Insurance and De Zeeuwse Verzekeringen. De Jonge: “We are also looking for additional financing.”
The smart booking system for containers has not gone unnoticed in Zeeland. HelloContainer is one of the five finalists who have a chance of winning the Emergo 2020 innovation prize.