Maximiliano Casal tells us how his team is nurturing Nowports to become the freight forwarder of the future.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Maximiliano Casal: We are good, taking care of the pandemic but fortunately, in Uruguay, the vaccine is being administered to a big percentage of the population, and we are all vaccinated (with the first dose).
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Nowports.
Maximiliano Casal: I have a BS in Computer Engineer and had been working in software for more than 9 years. I worked for Disney, Expedia among other projects, and in 2018 I moved to Kansas City to work on a Freight Forwarder. During my time in Kansas, I was able to understand how the US market works, what customers were looking for, and it was part of the vision we used for the beginning of Nowports. The company (Nowports) was founded by Alfonso de Los Rios (Mexican) and me (Uruguayan) in early 2019. We met at a summer Bootcamp hosted at Stanford University. Alfonso’s family had traditional freight forwarders for more than 15 years in Mexico. Combining Alfonso’s knowledge and my US experience was how we decided to start disrupting the LATAM Freight forwarding industry.
How does Nowports innovate?
Maximiliano Casal: We use technology to update an industry that has been frozen in time and is used to work in papers, faxes, emails & phone calls. Our suite of products improves the process for our customers and internal teams to work in an automated and digital way. We have created algorithms that help companies to make smarter decisions, and we offer real-time visibility of their entire international logistics process. We automated reports and alerts to reduce human errors.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Maximiliano Casal: The pandemic has been a challenge in all industries; however, the fact that our customers had to change their onsite working process for a remote one showed them the importance of being digital. This created an inflection point, and in the last quarter, we have been experiencing a big growth in terms of new customers, containers as well as platform usage.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Maximiliano Casal: Yes, one of the most important choices was changing our go-to-market strategy and re-defining our ideal customer profile. Pandemic affected multiple companies in LATAM that were or could be potential customers. We focus on different types of companies that were less affected by pandemic effects. Also, during 2019 and the beginning of 2019, we were not diversified in different industries, but in a few months, we change that, and we don’t have a dependency on a specific customer or industry.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Maximiliano Casal: We have been using different approaches to make our team comfortable with remote work (something we were not using before the pandemic). Our meetings format changed to be more efficient with agendas and pre-work. We also included some tools for analytics and KPIs monitoring.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Maximiliano Casal: In LATAM, we are the first and biggest digital freight forwarder; there are other smalls with a country-based focus. We are across the entire continent with offices in 4 countries. We compete mainly with traditional freight forwarders that can be either local or global.
Your final thoughts?
Maximiliano Casal: Pandemic changed the rules of many games, and just the ones capable of understanding this and move fast are the ones winning. The world will not be the same after this, but it has shown the importance of being digital and the impact of technology.
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