Every month we select one logistics startup which represents a positive example of innovation in Logistics and Supply Chain and has the potential to alter the way the industry operates. This month, Transmetrics selected Skyspace Cargo, the world’s leading air cargo booking platform, as the “Logistics Startup of the Month” for its remarkable contribution to air cargo innovation.
In order to learn more about the company and what makes Skyspace unique, we have talked with Toby Raworth, CEO at Skyspace Cargo, about the startup’s journey and what’s ahead for the air cargo sector.
Congratulations on becoming Logistics Startup of the Month! We are glad to highlight such an innovative company. Can you please introduce Skyspace Cargo to our readers and the services it offers?
Its an honor to be recognized, thank you. Skyspace Cargo is a simple concept, we allow companies to buy and sell air cargo capacity in a neutral trading environment. It’s a self-service environment that doesn’t favor any airlines, we publish rates at cost, expect no profit share and facilitate this in as close to real-time as is technologically possible.
What issues in the air freight industry does Skyspace tackle?
We reduce the cycle from searching from quote to booking to within 7 minutes. We provide real-time pricing and allow our users to make commercial and service-driven decisions based on accurate and transparent information. Skyspace users can view their spend, average transit time, number of shipments, main origins/destinations, and more in our dashboard section. The dashboard is live so users get a very intimate view of performance. We provide upstream services that allow companies without a physical entity at origin to maintain control and integrity of their products. In addition to this, we have an advanced communication platform that shares milestones in the supply chain with various stakeholders based on the users’ preferences.
What kind of clients are you targeting with your platform and what benefits should they expect?
Our target customers are businesses’ that need to make bookings quickly, save money by avoiding profit share (the market standard is 50% so by default in using Skyspace they save significantly), and want transparent costs. They are companies that want control of their cargo upstream and require fast and accurate information to be disseminated amongst multiple stakeholders in real-time. Typically our average customer is tech-savvy, in a period of growth and either doesn’t have a dedicated logistics team or intends to reduce costs in that area.
Can you please share with our readers any client success story and how Skyspace helped in particular?
Aside from saving all of our clients’ money and time, the two dominant motivating factors for change, we also improve service. A common issue we have addressed is damage. Every shipment moved through Skyspace is photographed at the origin warehouse and those photos are uploaded and can be checked on any internet-enabled device. Unless our user clicks the green confirm button adjacent to the photos that cargo will be held at the origin. We have saved our clients many man-hours of discussion and a significant amount of money by introducing this simple step.
Since Skyspace is the world’s largest booking platform used by freight forwarders to search, compare, and book shipments from airlines, can you please explain how you manage to gather all the required data? What is the technology behind the platform?
It took us 3 years to build the platform, which is three years with no revenue or commercial business activity. It would have been very easy for us to use the various software options available but in doing so we would have lost autonomy and compromised our ability to develop quickly. All our software has been created in the house including our database management system, search technology for flights and pricing information, our operating system, messaging system, documentation system, invoicing, and settlement system. The only 3rd party software we use is related to our payment gateway. We transmit data with our partners through the various forms of API and EDI they prefer.
Based on your experience, what are the biggest challenges which the air freight industry is currently facing and how can they be tackled successfully?
In my opinion, the biggest challenges are finding ways to improve the way enterprises interact with each other specifically how we communicate between shippers, consignees, government agencies, and other key stakeholders like customs brokers for example. Consumer expectation in regard to delivery is at a high and we must respect that. That is what we are focused on here at Skyspace. On a broader scale, we need to think about our environmental footprint and how we can reduce it.
The COVID-19 pandemic affected every sector of logistics to a particular extent. What consequences does it have on the air freight industry? What measures are being taken as a response to the pandemic?
I am sure that all your readers are aware of the main issues such as reduced demand, reduced capacity, key players going out of business, borders being closed, and the incredible contraction of our industry as well as the global economy. We will all have to look at ways to be leaner and more efficient. For new companies like Skyspace, there are huge opportunities, our market share is so small that we can continue to grow if we stay focused. Larger companies will be the hardest hit and will require financial support in some cases. Others with lean models, good management, good people, and technology can excel. It’s going to be a long winter and only the fittest will survive.
Skyspace has been on the market for 4 years so far. What are the biggest challenges you faced during this period of time and how did you overcome them?
Our biggest challenge without a doubt has been finding the right people. Our technology is great and we need the people to match it… but good people are expensive. Our other greatest challenge is money! We have generated a lot of revenue but with our business model being a flat 25usd per booking we have to be very lean. We need to reach a critical mass to really make it to the big time, and we are not there yet.
What kind of exciting news and announcements should we expect from Skyspace in the next year?
“Freight forwarders, are well-organized, well-run businesses staffed by smart solution-orientated people. We are trying to find ways to make the business easier for all involved, I don’t like the term “disrupt”, it is not our aim at all.”
We are developing some very interesting software that will allow us to bring anyone with a mobile data enabled device into the supply chain. We are also about to announce a key new addition to our senior management team that will give us the added impetus to reach our short- and medium-term objectives ahead of schedule. Overall, our long term objective is to continue to innovate. Freight forwarders, in general, are well-organized, well-run businesses staffed by smart solution-orientated people. We are trying to find ways to make the business easier for all involved, I don’t like the term “disrupt”, it is not our aim at all.