ACE Startup Feature – Versafleet
Traditional logistics planning is still done manually, largely dependent on paper, pen and excel spreadsheet. At the same time, automation software is expensive investments to small businesses. This is the real-world problem which the founders at Versafleet see in the industry and wanted to solve. This gave birth to Versafleet in 2012, a cloud-based transport management platform that allows companies to automate logistics planning on their own, anywhere they go with a computer.
“In terms of logistic planning there are many considerations and constraints to think about before you can have the most optimised result. Our software takes all these in and automate your planning. More importantly, you don’t need to have 20 years of experience to be able to plan for a fleet of 20 vehicles. That’s what are we trying to reach, every single person can plan and manage their deliveries with our software.”, said James Ng who manages sales and business development at Versafleet.
Today, the startup is growing rapidly and is looking at opportunities to expand its business. Recently, Versafleet has participated in the Bridge challenge, powered by Coca Cola and supported by ACE. The startup is one of the three winners which has won the opportunity to work with The Coca-Cola Company to solve their logistics challenges.
“We have been to a few Challenges previously, such as Hackathon, but at the end of it, you win a prize as the end goal. In contrast, The Bridge Challenge is an excellent platform that opens doors for startups and help startups grow.”, said James.
He added, “The business units at Coca Cola are also very aligned to this. It was not for the business, it was not to explore opportunities together, although that might come. However, the priority objective is to really help startups grow. So, I think it is almost impossible for you to find someone or a company that is so open to help startups to grow. I truly value this opportunity to be able to work alongside with the business units at The Coca-Cola Company that have top notch division in logistics technology in sales and operations.”
When it comes to the challenges of working with corporation. James has debunked the general stereotypes that startups and corporation have different mindset and cultures.
“I initially thought that MNCs and Corporate are not moving as fast as we are. It is however different for Coca Cola. They move and innovate as fast as startups, and sometimes even faster than some of the startups. You will be surprised.”, said James.
“The only challenge we faced while working with them is that our mentors are scattered all around the world at different offices. Communications could take a little longer. It is also extremely rare for us to meet them face to face together at once. So, most of the time, we are always liaising via emails and calls. Of course, the best way to communicate would be face to face when we fly down, but it is not sustainable in the long run.”
To over this challenge, James shared that the team must be efficient.
“Make sure you do not waste their time. If they are willing to help, make sure that the one hour you have with them is concise. You have to know what you want to ask them, how they can help you and what kind of resources you can tap on. So, be direct and bold. At the same time, be humble and learn from them.”
Lastly, James has one piece of advice for our startups who are looking to work with corporate.
“It is very important to understand the corporate’s pain point and be innovative in your solution. MNCs and corporates are always ready to go. They are big and they are always looking for solutions. So, if you have something that is unique, and it solves their issue, they will want to go with you.”