Berlin-based Kaiko Systems raises €2m to help marine technical operations go paperless • CableFree TV

Published by
Peter Kavinsky

Over the past decade, traditional industries, from healthcare to manufacturing, have undergone a digital transformation. But some sectors are left behind. Maritime shipping is, according to Fabian Fussek, CEO and co-founder of Kaiko Systems, “the last frontier of digitization.”

Kaiko Systems is a Berlin-based start-up trying to digitize operations on commercial ships. About 90% goods sold globally are shipped across the ocean, but an industry that plays a key role in the global economy is still heavily dependent on pens, paper and Excel, notes Fussek, a former Deloitte consultant. He added that the manual process means that maintenance and inspection of ships is costly, inefficient and prone to human error.

Kaiko Systems, which Fussek founded in 2020 with Eddie del Valle, former CTO Freight Forwarding Unicorn Sender, provides a smartphone-based tool for frontline workers and inspectors to collect live data on board. In turn, Kaiko’s built-in artificial intelligence can validate data in a timely manner and report problems to ground crews. For example, when the system finds a recently released part that is causing a ship to break, it can identify all other ships that could be affected by the same vulnerability.

While Fussek declined to share the firm’s financials, the CEO said the markup is “very positive” and the startup is “on track to be profitable.” To date, the company has carried out over 10,000 inspections of approximately 250 ships worldwide. Some of his most respected clients include Columbia Shipmanagement, one of the world’s largest private shipping companies, Marlow Navigation, USC Barnkrug, CTM and The Asian Spirit Steamship Company.

Early pull is what helped the startup close a €2 million seed funding round backed by industry giants. Investors include Schoeller Holdings, parent company of Columbia Shipmanagement, Vineta Ventures, A round Capital, Flagship Founders and industry veterans Clasen Rickmers, managing partner of The Asian Spirit Steamship Company, and Justus Kniffka, managing director and CEO of shipping company Hanseatic Lloyd. .

As to why maritime shipping has been late to digitization, Fussek believes that margins in the industry have been too low until recently. Average cost of transporting a standard large container hit $10,000 in 2021, but from 2015 to 2020, that figure mostly fell below $2,000. According to the founder, the surge in value was partly driven by increased global consumption, port closures due to COVID-19, and supply chain disruptions during the outbreak.

“Shipping companies are finally making a long overdue investment in digitization,” Fussek said. In addition to the extra cash that can be spent on increased productivity, COVID-induced travel disruptions have also made digitization even more urgent, as inspectors cannot easily move from ship to ship in person.

With the new influx of capital, Kaiko Systems plans to expand its team, improve its software solution and expand into new markets beyond its current presence in Germany, Greece and East Asia. Fussek believed that geographic scaling would not be particularly difficult due to the high degree of standardization of shipping. The company employs ten people worldwide and plans to double its headcount in the coming months.

Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at cablefreetv.org

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