bid2board is a marketplace that brings together shipping companies and companies that provide technical services. More specifically, bid2board organizes services for any work scope that requires the attendance on board of an external technician or that a ship’s mechanical equipment must be sent to some external workshop.
Interview with Andreas – Minos Zompanakis, CEO of bid2board.
Easy Engineering: A brief description of the company and its activities.
Andreas – Minos Zompanakis: Having worked in various roles in shipping companies in Greece and abroad, the task of service arrangement was always one of the most time-consuming and inefficient processes. Having personally worked as Fleet Manager for Prime Tankers and Technical Manager for LNG pro-bunkers and together with the experience of our COO, Michalis Chartoularis from Amazon operations and our CTO Achilleas Tsoumitas in JPMorgan’s web applications development we created the bid2board platform where the process of technical service arrangement is simplified to a surprising degree.
Additionally, in many circumstances ships’ systems experience malfunctions and in these cases the technical staff of a shipping company must conduct an investigation (remote troubleshooting) to guide the crew for the resolution of the problem. Focusing on cases related to automation, electronic and electrical issues (which are the most difficult categories of problems to deal with) we have a team of superintendent electricians and superintendent engineers with extensive experience in shipping companies who will react timely and direct the technical staff of a shipping company to face the problem. At the same time through bid2board shipping companies can get troubleshooting assistance from specialized companies such as the maker of a system. Remote troubleshooting will either manage to solve a problem or assist in finding the root cause so that the issue can be easily rectified during an attendance, thus saving costs and time.
Having started operations in September 2021, we managed to create a network of 36 shipping companies with a total of over 300 ships and over 700 service suppliers worldwide, numbers that are increasing every week, having already organized services that exceed in worth 1.3 million US dollars.
E.E: What are the main areas of activity of the company?
A.M.Z: The total global fleet of merchant ships of 10,000 tons DWT and above amounts to 70,000 ships. On every ship there are more than 100 machinery items which are subject to maintenance work or certification at regular intervals. To these tasks breakdowns or unplanned repairs are added as the vessels operate in very unpredictable conditions. Depending on the size and type, each ship has an average budget of approximately $80,000 for the cost of such jobs per year. In other words, we are talking overall for an industry valued at about $5.5 billion annually.
The first motivation that pushed us to create bid2board was the simplification and time saving in the service arrangement process. To give an impression of the magnitude, in the “traditional” way the arrangement of a normal service can take up to two days or more for a superintendent or technical coordinator to do all the steps, i.e. find which companies can provide the requested service, contact them, clarify the scope of the work, make the necessary negotiations for the costs and agree on the service order. Through bid2board, a few clicks are enough.
At the same time based on the advantages provided by the community of a marketplace and by setting up each service request as an auction we offer significant reductions in service costs, organization and transparency. Finally, the service suppliers participating in bid2board are companies we have either worked with in the past, or are being vetted to certify their quality. With the completion of each service shipping companies are also invited to rate each service supplier thus maintaining the level of service provided at the high level we want.
On the other side of the marketplace, from the side of the service suppliers it was always very difficult to market their services to new customers (shipping companies) and achieve direct contact. Through bid2board having created their profile on our platform, they are automatically “matched” when a service request is created fitting their specialization and areas in which they can provide their services. Additionally, through the bidding feature they gain valuable information about how competitive their offers are and they are given the opportunity to adjust their offer in order to win a new customer.
Great emphasis was also placed on simplicity and creativity of an environment that will be user-friendly and easy to use on a daily basis on a computer, tablet or mobile phone. Our big goal is to make the daily life of users easier with the least possible intervention in the way each company operates and to adjust to each company’s procedures. We have achieved this by being flexible and ensuring that our platform has a lot of adaptability to each user.
E.E: What’s the news about new products?
A.M.Z: We are currently the only platform worldwide that has been developed exclusively for technical service arrangement. Similar marketplaces exist to meet the needs in the availability of spare parts and consumables on ships, but are governed by different procedures and practices that make it impractical for the particular requirements that exist in the technical service arrangement.
The advantages offered by bid2board, convenience, speed, cost reduction, transparency, organization and quality assurance are all characteristics for which the “traditional” mode of operation requires great effort and many hours of dedicated staff.
Our big advantage is also our team. Having gone through all of the ranks of a technical department we have deep knowledge of the requirements and the particularities that may exist in each service request. We consider that our personal supervision of each request is very important where we carefully monitor and ensure that every step of the process is completed to the satisfaction of all parties.
Also, no preparation or initial set-up is required by shipping companies to use our platform. In the same manner that they get in contact with service companies they can direct their service requests to us. Finally, in terms of cost, we offer a trial to all companies to be able to assess the offered benefits.
E.E: At what stage is the market where you are currently active?
A.M.Z: Shipping is a traditional industry and this is because there is a lot of specialized knowledge that is only gained through years at sea. It is an environment with many unpredictable conditions exposed on a global scale. In other words, the human factor is irreplaceable and is a barrier to technological applications that in most circumstances try to automate procedures.
Our big advantage as bid2board is the years we have spent on ships, having lived through these conditions and having a profound knowledge of most technical jobs that come up. Through this knowledge we created a flow on the platform that can include all eventualities in one service while remaining simple to use. But for the same reason we are very closely following every service so that this knowledge of ours can serve the needs of each job.
The solutions that are given through the application of technology and especially in marketplaces, increase the possibilities and the opportunities in all sectors and despite all the particularities shipping is not an exception. The period of lockdowns also helped to cultivate in the consciousness of most that online shopping and services can be safe and convenient. Also, in other industries such as tourism online marketplaces have prevailed and now the advantages that they offer are clear.
In the same way, I believe in the expansion of technological solutions in other areas. Caution is always required, but especially in marketplaces much of the quality assurance comes from the marketplace itself. How likely are you to book a hotel for which you read bad reviews on booking.com?
E.E: What estimations do you have for 2023?
A.M.Z: A very important feature in shipping is the fact that ships are managed in a similar manner worldwide. The goal is to expand in parallel with the Greek market worldwide in the near future. For this purpose, we decided to grow our team to accelerate our expansion plan.
As our customers and the services completed through our platform increase, a sufficient amount of information which can be used to extract valuable statistical information (metrics, data analysis) is created that help shipping companies as well as service suppliers to draw useful conclusions. For example, by analyzing the cost and the average number of bids for a particular type of work a shipping company can plan the time and area in which they will organize a job while correspondingly a service supplier can get information about areas in which there is demand for a service which is not covered.
At the same time many processes of the shipping companies remain in the “traditional” model, which leaves us room to develop additional solutions by adding new functions to bid2board beyond the service arrangement and technical troubleshooting.
2022 served to establish our platform and prove our concept. In 2023 we plan to actively expand our customer base on a worldwide scale. At the same time, continuous improvement of our platform to better serve our existing clients is a big focus.
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