#44: Graham Parker CEO and Co-Founder of Kontainers

#44: Graham Parker CEO and Co-Founder of Kontainers Featured Image

Graham is a proven shipping entrepreneur starting his first freight company aged 22, going on to ship almost 100,000 containers with record revenue approaching $100 million all before his 30th birthday. Throughout his time in the industry, he has travelled all over the world in a quest to understand how the business works both inside and out, all the while listening to and delivering customers’ import/export needs.

Kontainers is a Software as a service company serving carriers and forwarders with own branded platforms allowing their clients to get instant rates, book cargo and manages all shipments online on any internet-enabled device. They were awarded Best Global Digital Ocean freight Platform by Frost & Sullivan in 2019.

Around a quarter of the 20 largest shipping lines use the Kontainers Enterprise system to power their own-branded platform.

Listen to the full discussion here:



Connect with the Guest:

Graham Parker: LinkedIn | Twitter | Company Website

Some of the highlights from the podcast:

  • How Graham went from $1 million to $16 million in revenue over 5 years with his first freight forwarding company.
  • Why did Graham invest in two of the largest fintech companies – Revolut and Monzo with 2 million and 5 million users respectively.
  • Kontainers will power more than 1 million transactions next year.
  • Their customized solution can help save 40% of the transaction costs on the operation side.
  • How important is Air Freight for the platform and why it takes 4 weeks to implement the Kontainers system?
  • How they work with about 60% of the top 20 freight forwarders at sea level to understand digital acceleration.
  • [01:20] Tell us a little about your beginnings- how you ended up in freight forwarding and building Kontainers.
  • [01:42] I was fascinated by shipping, by the globalization of it, by the nature of global currencies and commodities and how it connected the world.
  • [02:27] I set up my first freight forwarding company and set myself a crazy goal of doing $1 million in sales in the first year and doubled it every year. I went from one to two to four to eight to $16 million in revenue over the next half a decade.
  • [03:23] How did you end up investing in Revolut and Monzo- which are two of the largest fintech payment platforms?
  • [04:56] Monzo and Revolut have an incredible success story with 2 million and 5 million users respectively.
  • [06:46] How do you convince your clients to use your service?
  • [07:59] We believe that freight forwarders and all great brands have a distinct advantage and they’ve got a significant customer base built up over the years and decades- that literally cost billions to replicate.
  • [09:10] Our flagship product- our software will power more than 1 million transactions next year. And we were lucky enough to work with big companies from the Getco, including Maersk.
  • [10:44] Do you have some examples of how you managed to save cost?
  • [11:19] Having your own branded customized solution on the operation side, can help save 40% of the transaction costs.
  • [13:18] Freight forwarders give their customers a great experience and now with their API key, they are able to go to banks and plug-in trade finance and marine insurance which opens brand new revenue streams for them.
  • [15:05] Our mission is to get these products into the hands of every freight forwarder on the planet in the next 18 months to allow them to take that digital box to be able to continue to do what they do best.
  • [16:02] Is Kontainers similar to Flexport and Freight Hub? Or do you basically help freight forwarders compete with the aforementioned companies?
  • [16:24] Kontainers is an enterprise software company and 75% of it consists of engineering and technological talent.
  • [17:28] How did you manage to implement Kontainers in just four weeks?
  • [18:02] Our top five enterprise customers and our software will power more than 1 million transactions in 2020. Every one of those solutions was delivered in 12 weeks on time and in different parts of the world.
  • [18:53] The advantage we have is that the solutions are already built before we process everything. It is actually about customization and education and training.
  • [21:08] How can freight forwarders and shipping lines use your platform as a competitive advantage?
  • [22:00] I think if you fast forward to 18 months, freight forwarders and shipping lines will have the capability to interact in a modern digital way.
  • [23:47] How do you charge and how do you make money?
  • [24:32] We basically charge an all-inclusive monthly subscription fee and that makes it very transparent for our customers with unlimited transactions which include hosting, maintenance, and upgrades. And last year, we did 36 upgrades for free.
  • [25:11] One of the challenges is having the software gather rates, this race can fluctuate and can go up and down and it’s not easy to have the software do it in a good way. How do you tackle this kind of challenges?
  • [25:25] For us as a modern platform, we operate with about 52 API. Every facet of what we do is available as an API and that’s great.
  • [27:38] You mentioned that Air Freight will be part of the system. Is this going to happen this year?
  • [28:36] When getting into the air freight market, what’s your biggest challenge in terms of getting the accurate data you need?
  • [32:09] How are you using algorithms and artificial intelligence or machine learning in your software?
  • [33:00] Freight has a huge data available and we are not seeing big enough data sets to utilize AI today. However, we use machine learning in different parts of the platform.
  • [34:00] Machine learning has a great tool to give some really detailed analytics. The data that’s been trapped in lots of emails and excel sheets is now all in one platform.
  • [34:56] What would be your piece of advice to the top 20 global forwarders?
  • [35:27] Without exception, Were lucky enough to be talking to probably 60% of the top 20 freight forwarders at sea level so we get great access and understand digital acceleration.
  • [36:48] the average customer now has 50 to 70 different SAS tools in their business. And I think freight forwarders can utilize more and more mature size tools in the future.
  • [38:24] Tell us a little about your challenges and how you overcome them?
  • [40:38] My co-founder and I are incredibly passionate about the mission we’re on and hopefully, that comes across the teams as well.
  • [42:56] What should students learn in supply chain or logistics now in university? What should they be learning in the next five to 10 years to stay relevant?
  • [44:22] I think upscaling ourselves and thinking more about solution selling, enterprise sales, being more process driven, thinking about the customers and how you can actually add value is very important.
  • [46:12] What would be some of the principles and quotes that you follow in life and in business?
  • [46:43] I think that being honest in what we do and also working super hard and thinking about how we can actually add some value is very important.

About the Host:

The host, Radu Palamariu is the co-author of “From Source to Sold – Stories of Leadership in Supply Chain”. He has been named one of the top 3 Global Supply Chain Influencers on LinkedIn and was featured in ForbesBloombergWEFBangkok Post, and MIT Supply Chain Talent magazine. Radu invites executives to share stories and perspectives around technology, logistics, e-commerce, supply chain, and manufacturing, and their views on how the future will look.

Alcott Global connects and upgrades the supply chain ecosystem by finding the right talent through executive search, developing talent through learning solutions, and meeting supply chain technology needs through a comprehensive crunch base marketplace.

The supply chain executive search has been our focus since the very beginning, offering recruitment services for top-tier supply chain roles at every level of the end-to-end supply chain: plan, source / procure, make, and deliver. Our consultants have years of experience in placing top talent, in North America, LATAM, Europe, the Middle East & Africa, and APAC, and besides speed, one of our biggest strengths is our network within the supply chain industry, and we capitalize on it to find the best solutions.

Through the years, we have grown as an organization and our offerings with it. One of our initiatives, the learning solutions- training and supply chain academy, is focused on transforming leadership- self-leadership, executive presence, influence capital, and business acumen. Through Supplify, we aim to match corporations with the top technology companies to solve their supply chain and logistics challenges with a focus on innovation and digital transformation.

We are in constant touch with the leaders in supply chain, inviting them to inspire the supply chain professionals in thought-provoking podcast episodes and events, and showcasing what is possible at the yearly Leaders in Supply Chain Awards.

Related Episodes:

Episode #26: Troels Randbøll Støvring CEO of Twill

Episode #31: Zvi Schreiber CEO at Freightos

Episode #43: Kris Kosmala Director of Royal HaskoningDHV




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