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Startup Profile 2020: Nautix

Developed “by seafarers for seafarers”, Nautix’s eponymous fleet management platform seeks to boost safety at sea while ensuring the smooth running of operations.

Three quarters of all maritime accidents are arguably the result of human error. However, by providing mariners with simplified instructions, work-planning tools and predictive risk capabilities, the Nautix fleet management platform, which offers a “one-stop snapshot of ship operations”, can, the company says, greatly improve safety and efficiency while unlocking sizeable savings as a result of reduced incident costs.

“Nautix,” says CEO and co-founder Tarang Valecha, “is a product for the seafarer and vessel managers – the frontline workers of the shipping industry, so to speak. Despite global standards, the shipping industry is faced with uneven training standards. This, coupled with high attrition rates, makes it very difficult to effectively identify the seafarer’s shortcomings and train them.”

However, Nautix, he reports, has “a mission to make shipping safer” by developing a range of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions. “Our fleet management tool would be used for planning, assigning and [the] execution of tasks. Integrated workflows and risk prediction is a key part of how our software would achieve this,” he says.

“Our first product addresses the safety management system. Aspects of what we are doing are in use already in other industries with startling results – between 10-30% reductions in incident costs. This could mean huge savings for the industry,” Valecha says, noting that “an injury to just one person on board could lead to a ship having to divert course”. Meanwhile, “an accident in port could result in a ship being detained for a week” until all ensuing investigations have been completed. “For a ship carrying 20,000 containers, this could potentially mean blocking the berth and interrupting global supply chains,” he states.

“Being in the shipping industry, you are always aware of the challenges that are present. The industry is inherently conservative and with good reason. Safety is an inherent part of day-to-day operations and there is always an additional margin of safety built into every operation. This, however, stifles innovation and it has meant that some easily addressable problems aren’t getting attention,” he says.

“The three co-founders, Shantanu Mishra, Vishwas Tomar and myself, were in school together at Singapore Polytechnic. We figured very early on that digitalisation would have a big part to play in this new age. And it has. In fuel efficiency, freight, insurance and many other areas. But somehow seafarers themselves weren’t feeling the benefits,” he says, highlighting “poor internet connectivity” as “an obvious challenge” and one that over the past decade has “improved drastically”.

As for what makes the Nautix platform different, Valecha states: “The present systems were designed for a different age. But it’s not just that. The approach to solving the problems itself is flawed. The people working on these solutions do not talk to seafarers and they are not seafarers. Our product is developed by seafarers for seafarers. Our solution is proactive, not reactive. For example, after an accident, the industry provides training, training and more training. We seek to provide guidance immediately before the commencement of a task. Our risk prediction tool pre-empts the incident from occurring in the first place.”

“We have carried out testing in a closed group with extremely positive results,” he reports. “User feedback has been very encouraging and understandably so. Seafarers and technical managers have been left out of the digital revolution. There is a huge disconnect in user experience when they use their mobile phone to book an Uber cab and when they return to a legacy software for [the] planning of essential operations that involve millions of dollars in assets. Just providing a better [user interface/user experience (UI/UX)] does wonders for improving productivity.”

Looking to the future, Valecha reveals that the company has “a raft of products” slated for release that cover such matters as, inter alia, documentation; planned maintenance; dry-docking; and crewing. “We have been accepted into some of the most renowned accelerator programmes, with stints in Germany, Denmark, Norway and Silicon Valley,” he says, revealing that the company has also now signed its first Letters of Intent (LOIs) and “will be launching pilot programmes in the second quarter” of the year. “We are, however, still looking for strategic partners, co-development opportunities with ship owners that are seeking to be part of the digital revolution”.

Established in Copenhagen in 2018, Nautix boasts a core team that in addition to the three co-founders includes CTO Thor Helms and business development manager Neiloy George. More information, including details on booking a demo of the platform, can be found at the Nautix website.

About Author

Brian Dixon is a business and industry journalist with more than 20 years' experience writing about ports and logistics. A member of the Chartered Institute of Journalists, he has covered stories on six continents. He divides his time between the UK and East Asia