Disbursements: finding and eliminating invisible costs
Computer science is at the heart of Signal Ventures’ ecosystem of startups. Harbor Lab’s Chief Executive, Antonis Malaxianakis, explains how his disbursements platform uses technology to uncover hidden costs and supports shipping professionals
The thread that runs through Harbor Lab and all the members of the Signal Ventures ecosystem is using data to drive better decision making. Strides in data analytics, the increasing sophistication of owners and charterers and increasing transparency across the supply chain have powered a boom in tech startups and innovation. What sets the Signal ecosystem partners apart from its peers is its deep shipping know-how.
This is certainly true for my company, Harbor Lab. Prior to setting up the business I worked for two major Greek shipping companies for more than seven years. During that time I realized how difficult it is for vessel charterers and operators to get a hold of accurate port tariff costs - a vital piece of information when calculating freight rates.
Today, Harbor Lab’s analysts unravel matrices that determine individual ports’ tariffs and create the complex algorithms that drive our online DA (Disbursements Accounting) and Port Cost Estimator Tools. It’s driven by software that offers a transparent and time-efficient way of working instead of relying on paper-heavy and error-prone DA checking procedures that require manual resources. We use technology to uncover invisible costs, create a level playing field and speed up company processes.Similarly, Signal, through its Signal Maritime and Signal Ocean divisions, is using computer science to deliver efficiency and commercial advantage to its customers. With so many synergies between our two companies it makes sense for us to share our experiences and collaborate where possible, and I was delighted to be invited to connect with Signal Group as a Signal Ventures Ecosystem Partner.
Starting a new business is never easy. It takes vision, courage, determination and hard work and I always tell my team that the first five years are the most difficult. Working with Signal Ventures during these early years for my company has, however, reduced many of the pain points startups usually experience and been extremely rewarding. It has exposed Harbor Lab to potential new clients and given us access to key industry players.
Panos Dimitracopoulos, CEO of Signal Maritime, has also shared invaluable advice, including the mistakes Signal made when it started operating nearly eight years ago, so that we can avoid repeating them. This insight has enabled Harbor Lab to grow as a company and develop new software far more quickly than I anticipated when I set up the company nearly two years ago.
Signal Group is also benefitting from the partnership.
Signal Maritime is using our DA Tool to handle its disbursement accounts for its ship management operations. I was delighted when Spyridon Fousteris, an associate disbursements analyst with the company, informed me that our online tool enables each associate to manage four times more vessels than it could with paper-based processes.It's evident that our software is supporting the industry in the way it was intended.
Fousteris’ team was also instrumental in the development of Harbor Lab’s Port Cost Estimator Tool and trialled the software whilst Harbor Lab’s software engineers fine-tuned the program.
Fundamental to the success of any fledgling business is the ingrained belief that what is being offered is important, and genuinely brings value to customers and the industry in which it operates.
Signal Group CEO Ioannis Martinos is taking a pioneering approach and bringing digitalisation to our millennium-old industry. Our collective desire to offer maritime new and better ways of working offers exciting opportunities and it is an honour to be an Ecosystem Partner with Signal Ventures as we work towards our shared vision for the industry.