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Voyager team

Voyager - a start-up aiming to smooth bulk shipping supply chains

Barry Parker talks to Matthew Costello, ceo of maritime start-up Voyager, about the company's aims to reduce inefficiencies in the bulk shipping sector.

Voyager (www.voyagerportal.com), a start-up company launched by a group with very deep tanker company expertise - importantly in the commercial, operational and information sides of the business - has just secured seed funding from a group of investors led by ATX Venture Partners, an early stage investor based in Austin, Texas.

With its headquarters in Houston, and its network accessible via a web dashboard, Voyager is already serving Norwegian energy giant Equinor along with “the full value chain of marine service providers,” Matthew Costello, the ceo and co-founder, tells Seatrade Maritime News. He explains further that: “Our current users are in the parcel tanker sector but the platform is built to handle any type of product. The team’s background and experience is also in the parcel tanker sector.”

Cloud-based platform

Accessible through a web portal with a cloud-based platform, Voyager has its sights set on modernising operations well beyond “drugstore ships” carrying small chemical and refined products parcels - admittedly a challenging sector of the bulk markets both information and logistics-wise - and onward throughout bulk shipping.

It describes its mission as “enabling the bulk shipping commodity supply chains to operate in a unified and digital environment to coordinate critical and complex maritime operations for high value raw materials.” The aim sounds lofty, but Voyager is being built by group of shipping professionals who have experienced “inefficiencies” up close and personally in the real world of shipping - rather than in an academic setting, or in, let’s say, the trucking industry, currently a hotbed of transport tech but not necessarily relevant to maritime bulk cargo flows.

Stolt-Nielsen veterans

The startup’s management team includes several veterans of the Stolt-Nielsen organisation, who bring targeted expertise, knowledge of the pain points, and problem solving, to the complex issues facing bulk shipping supply chains. Anyone who has grappled with long email chains or re-entering cargo information that came in thru a fax transmission, hopefully free of typos (if the information was indeed correct when manually typed into the fax!), can instantly relate to the company’s aims.

Costello, a Stolt veteran, along with his co-founder Bret Smart, tells Seatrade Maritime News: “The key area of change is that shipment coordination between the value chain is taking place in a shared platform free of email. This brings with it a wealth of benefits not limited to productivity including task automation, better customer service, improved visibility and increased security. Voyager's permission based workflow- management ensures privacy of information and data can be maintained despite being a multi-party system.”

He adds that: “No special software is needed to start using Voyager except a web browser and internet connection. Voyager is available for integration with ERPs via its APIs. We have a public MoU in place with Kongsberg Digital and are in discussions with other engine-propulsion companies.”

Besides the navigation and propulsion sides of the business, inter-relationships of shipping with industries providing cargo are not lost on Costello and his team. In a statement, Costello explains, “Applications for Voyager are already being explored across other verticals within oil and gas.” He also notes that: “As industries move away from email to digital-based communications, Voyager will become a critical system of engagement.”

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