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Four Maritime Start-Ups Reimagine the Future of Maritime

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July 22, 2021

Maritime Blue, a statewide organization of maritime stakeholders, the state Department of Commerce, and the Port of Seattle, launched its second group of Maritime Innovation Accelerator start-up companies. The goal of the program is to spur new technology and investment in one of Washington’s most enduring and important industry sectors — maritime accounts for over $37 billion in economic impact annually, including  69,500 jobs. After several months of coaching, training, and purposeful networking, the companies recently pitched their products or services to a large online audience during the Maritime Blue Accelerator Showcase.

This series showcases the 11 companies participating in the second wave of the cohort. This time we’re focusing on four start-ups leveraging technology to automate processes, build efficiency, and reimagine the future of maritime.

MM-SEAS

MM-SEAs and founder Nate Gilman

Before founding MM-(SEAS) to streamline the complex United States Coast Guard (USCG) licensing process, Nate Gilman served as a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Commissioned Officer and held positions running tall ship educational programs, pleasure yachts, and serving on large research ships. In his role as a Commissioned Officer, Gilman maintained 80 certificates and licenses as part of his Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC).

He was on the water 11 months a year and his licenses and certificates were stored in a massive binder he kept in his stateroom. At one point, while working on a ship out of Dutch Harbor, Alaska, Gilman’s ship was severely delayed because a colleague’s maritime credential had expired.

“This was a ‘do you guys know about Google Drive?’ moment for me,” he said. “I was helping everyone scan things in, helping people renew licenses, and eventually people started offering to pay me.”

Over 200,000 mariners in the United States are required to have the Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) to keep working on the water. Gilman recognized that there was a great need to streamline and simplify an archaic and complicated process, and MM-SEAS™ was born on March 15. The software automates the manual task of obtaining, tracking and renewing United States Coast Guard (USCG) credentials. And eliminates paperwork processing errors and delivers meaningful merchant mariner career guidance.

The platform, available on desktop and mobile, uploads a mariner’s MMC, documentation of sea service, training certificate or other paperwork, and then allows the user to extract the applicable data in real time. MM-SEAS makes it easy for mariners to determine if their training and experience fulfills the requirements of the over 840 USCG licenses and endorsements as well as providing insights into what is needed for their upcoming renewal. This information is then stored in a secure database and displayed on an interactive user dashboard providing clarity of process and focused career development for civilian mariners and active duty service members.

Gilman said the Maritime Accelerator program was helpful in connecting him with other entrepreneurs dealing with the same frustrations and challenges. He said the Accelerator program helped identify a few holes they had in their strategy.

“It helped us think through different pieces,” he said. “We initially planned to focus on commercial employers as customers, but we realized there were not enough commercial employers to make us a business. It helped lead us to the path we are on now.”

Future Sight AR

katana desktop

Lori-Lee Elliott founded Future Sight AR with a goal of creating systems that automate processes and allow people to be more creative and productive with their free time.

In 2020, Future Sight AR launched Katana, a full software suite, including a web app, mobile app, and database that allows users to create and assign mixed reality guides, step-by step-instructions, procedures, or checklists, and publish them on Android, iOS, and smart glasses.

“Using these systems, companies are able to cut down on the number of people they need in the field at any given time,” Elliott said. “By doing this, we are not getting rid of jobs; we are allowing people to do more.”

With Katana, companies are able to set up a knowledge capture system that document the details of how to do a task or job correctly. There can be a knowledge gap between the Baby Boomer generation and the millennials and Gen Z generations that are moving up in the workforce, Elliott said. With inexperienced people taking on leadership roles, Future Sight AR can streamline the transfer of information and create instant experts, on-the-job.

Future Sight also developed Atlas VR, an interactive review application which takes three dimensional models from a project and allows teams to review them collaboratively in virtual reality.

Atlas can be used in ship designs, port redesigns, and ferry terminal designs, and as a sales and marketing tool to help clients visualize what is being built and share plans with communities.

Elliott said the Maritime Accelerator program helped illustrate the importance of crafting a pitch and how she presents her company.

“Often you spend all that time working on the strategy and financial pieces but being successful is also about the confidence with which you communicate.”

She said accelerator programs are important in any industry that needs to keep up with the pace of technological change.

“Maritime has not had to keep up with technology change as much as other industries have,” she said. “An accelerator program gives you a lens into cutting-edge solutions for problems you might be experiencing. It gives you a shortcut to all the things that are available through a company or organization, or end user or investor, and how to incorporate that into your company.”

Allosense

Allosense

Roman Sandoval founded Allosense to produce high quality, military-grade asset trackers to help companies reduce overhead costs and improve efficiency and operational effectiveness.

Sandoval started out working for tech companies like Tesla, performing high volume manufacturing tests and new product introductions on sensors. When he founded Allosense, he began applying that technology to the logistics and maritime industries.

The cell phone-sized asset trackers provide an easy user experience for companies looking to integrate smart sensors and analyze data. Allosense trackers can be used in the maritime logistics industry to monitor mobile assets at a terminal or intermodal chassis (semi trailers used to transport shipping containers). Data from the sensors can be used to track the location of equipment, maintain equipment, measure temperatures, monitor carbon emissions and accelerometers, and provide customers with information on how to optimize equipment.

Through the Maritime Accelerator, Sandoval was able to expand his reach into the maritime industry, making contact with various partner companies including SSA Marine and Carex.

“Our intent with the Accelerator was to build out these relationships in the maritime industry,” he said. “We already have contracts with the Department of Defense and Hickam Airforce Base in Hawaii and we wanted to branch out into maritime.”

The most valuable part of participating in the Accelerator is the community and the cohort, and developing great relationships with founders of other companies as well, Sandoval said.

“This industry is fairly new to us, so the Accelerator allowed us to test out different customer engagement and acquisition strategies with meetings with partner companies; we went through the beginning phases of negotiation and gained experience with working with larger enterprises.”

Recently, Allosense received funding from Uber co-founder Garrett Camp and Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson via Camp’s venture capital firm, Expa Ventures.

Fishtail AI

Fishtail AI

Marc Held founded Fishtail AI to fix a problem in the supply chain while fighting climate change in the shipping industry.

Typically, the payment process for shippers is a drawn-out process, and shippers often get the short end of the stick when it comes to payments, agreements, and trust. Payment only occurs after a shipment arrives to the customer, the customer acknowledges the invoice for the shipment, and the shipper’s net payment terms are met.

Held developed a way to pay shippers the minute they close the doors of the shipping container and reward companies for sustainable shipping practices. The system incentivizes good supply chain behavior by providing low-cost supply chain financing for businesses who make sustainable inventory and transportation decisions. Shippers get paid and can continue to help customers without the wait and without the waste.

To reward shippers for sustainable practices, Fishtail performs an audit and analytics on the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of the shipping vessel, mode of transit, and congestion at the port. Then, Fishtail determines how shipping practices could reduce costs and waste, and identifies other great decisions that deserve to be rewarded. The greener the shipment, the lower the interest rate. The system incentivizes shippers to work with carriers that maintain their fleets and utilize ports that have low congestion.

Fishtail was incorporated in February 2021 and currently has paying customers, financing deals, and is fully funded.

In the future, Held wants Fishtail to be “the arbiters or that single source of truth for environmental data in the supply chain. There are a lot of people in the world of analyzing supply chains to predict carbon emissions; our special sauce is our ability to provide super accurate CO2 predictions.”

Held said the Accelerator program put him right in the middle of the maritime ecosystem.

“Maritime Blue was able to connect us with the right people to make things happen,” he said. “We definitely got a lot of introductions, and very rapidly got in front of people who understood how to solve global warming in the world of maritime.”

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