Member Spotlight: ShipLync Disrupts Trade and Logistics in the Internet Age
Logistics and trade may not be the sexiest industries, but they certainly are ripe for technology-driven innovation. For one, they’re riddled with inefficiencies and a noteworthy lack of technology despite their vast size and scope.
One 2015 study revealed that 75 percent of logistics professionals believe that better technology could improve operational efficiency and cut costs. Maryland-based 1776 member startup ShipLync provides a way for its customers to do just that. Founders Somil Desai and Saureen Desai seized the opportunity to create the “full-scale software platform” that aims to make life a whole lot easier for those in the logistics and trade industry.
One of the major factors for the company’s success is Saureen’s extensive knowledge in import-export trading and logistics as a result of her family’s plastics recycling business. Building on her thirst for entrepreneurship, she and Somil built ShipLync together to provide a full-scale system for logistics and trade not only for the U.S. but for the global frontier — some of its biggest clients are located in India and China.
ShipLync’s first international launch will take place in Shanghai at the China Plastics Trade Show on April 25. The couple works on ShipLync in addition to their day jobs, with Saureen handling exports and Somil dealing with domestics.
How ShipLync Works
ShipLync’s target market includes three groups:
1) Shippers – Importers, exporters, domestic companies, or personnel freighting goods via intermodal, air, dry van, or ocean containers.
2) Logistics Service Providers (LSPs) – Freight agents or carriers that arrange the shipment of goods.
3) Traders – Companies or people moving any form of commodity from point A to B. (e.g. plastics, metals, equipment, coffee beans)
Along with a surprising lack of automation, antiquated processes are largely the reason for freight delays. “There’s still a paper-and-pen mentality,” says Saureen. Getting a simple quote can take days. ShipLync speeds things up by providing real-time shipping quotes that take just minutes to arrive. “When I log into the system every morning and submit an RFQ (request for quote) to the registered LSPs, I’ll get about ten quotes within five minutes,” Somil says, “I’ll always go with the best option that’s suitable for me, confirm it, then the system will automatically create a legally binding contract so I don’t have to waste time writing up paperwork and sending it back and forth.”
It’s like picking stocks. Except instead of day trading stocks, users are day trading commodities and choosing prices that make the most sense for them. The on-demand pricing platform and predesigned contract, which ShipLync’s in-house counsel designed, saves shipping companies thousands of dollars. Somil likens it to Expedia for shipping:
“You get to compare prices and pick whichever option works for you.”
One of the biggest freight issues that the Department of Transportation deals with is the little knowledge or control it has over what materials or commodities are being shipped – huge amounts of counterfeit and smuggled goods are transported across seas each year, right under the Department’s nose. ShipLync hopes to team up with government agencies show them how its import-export container loading tool might help put a stop to that.
ShipLync’s platform also includes a China Certification and Inspection Group (CCIC) pre-inspection and loading tool to help prevent commodity scrap traders from having their cargo rejected upon entering China. The country is the top destination for scrap materials – one of the largest commodity exports from the United States. From creating offers to arranging freight, ShipLync allows traders from all across the board to run their trading business directly from their mobile device.
Other add-on services include a contact management system and email marketing system that helps users market their commodities on the go and stay on top of all their contacts. The online platform and corresponding app allow clients to conduct their daily business in a single system instead of doing everything piece-by-piece. The result? ShipLync’s users save tons of time, money, and effort.
ShipLync currently has a customer base of around 300 registered users, which Somil and Saureen are excited to keep growing. They said:
“We want to start educating shippers on how ShipLync can not only help save money for their operation, but make their protocols much more efficient on a day-to-day basis. We’re expecting to do a lot of demos, cold-calling and hitting the streets if we have to!”
Looking forward, the duo wants to connect with more people in the industry and start working closely with government agencies, which is one of the reasons why they decided to join 1776 after hearing about it at a holiday party last year.
What advice does ShipLync have for other entrepreneurs? Saureen recalls being paralyzed with a ton of ideas in the beginning stages. With this in mind, she recommends constantly redefining your niche as the market shifts. Most importantly, ShipLync points to transparency as a key success factor. “We don’t hide anything from our users,” says Somil.