It has helped some of Australia’s largest companies with warehousing, transport and removals. Now Zapala Go is getting ready for its biggest move yet.
Warehousing and removals company Zapala Go is spreading its wings, into Asia and beyond, after securing work with a pair of global clients.
It’s a significant expansion for the company and its founder and chief executive Carlos Ferri, and comes less than 10 years after he first arrived in Australia, as a Brazilian Apple representative looking to brush up on his English skills.
“After three years of work in Australia – I had never planned to have a business, but I thought I would just try,” he says.
That “try” came with Ferri’s purchase of a truck and the start of work on the road – building the company that he called Zapala.
But it was while working with this company that Ferri sensed an opportunity, finding that the processes of paperwork were too cumbersome and “the solutions weren’t there”.
“I actually made that decision to become more efficient to see warehouses be better managed. That was the entire idea behind it – the decision to move these processes to the cloud.”
The need for “a different way to do stuff” led to the birth of Zapala Go, a transferrable solution for businesses managing warehousing, relocation and storage of items that is accessible from anywhere.
Using Zapala Go’s online dashboard, a client can follow the progress of a job, track storage boxes and containers both abroad and in the warehouse and control job and electronic inventories with tags, photos and location data.
“We realised if we wanted to really grow, we needed to have more features rather than just the warehousing, so we made the decision to build the entire platform for the industry, from the moment that they get a quote all the way to when they are invoicing, and everything in between,” Ferri says.
“So for the bigger companies we use some of the features, the other companies we use less features – but the main thing is, all are using the core system.”
The system can also set up alerts, define user permissions and help find items misplaced along the way – with Ferri saying the company focuses on solving problems brought to it by its clientele – such as goods damaged in transit or items misplaced because they have not been tracked properly.
This had led to a share of success stories, such as one client that recorded a 65 per cent drop in their insurance claims because of the company’s record management processes.
“There is no excuse when someone says oh, my fridge is damaged – I can look at the photos and all the descriptions here and you find those damages weren’t there – so it becomes very honest between all parties,” Ferri says.
“That is something we enjoy being a part of. If we can empower them to do business as usual and we take all the things they are worried about, like where is the paperwork… if we take all this away and just let them do what they do best, I think the customers will be happy.”
Ferri adds that Zapala Go made it a priority to work with the customer with a view to helping solve their problems – whether that solution comes through company articles, training videos or in helping to physically introduce the work system.
Responding to customer needs was the reason behind Zapala Go’s introduction of checklists as part of its response to changing Chain of Responsibility regulations.
These checklists extend not only to vehicles, but to the workers themselves and even the site that they are entering, Ferri says.
“We don’t want to replace people and how they do business, we just want to empower them to do business the way that they do and take all the hassle out of getting right,” he says.
“Our entire focus was to make sure that the product was fixing the problem – focusing more on the medium and bigger companies.”
It is this customer focus that saw the company’s focus on the big end of town succeed, Ferri says.
“What we noticed was as niche as we were, companies were taking it more seriously, rather than saying – that is just another start-up company trying something else,” he said.
“Big and medium companies are always looking for a solution to their problems. I have seen a lot of other companies switch from other software to us because they tried something that was not quite right for their industry.”
Having limited local competition had also helped Zapala Go to stand out, he said, as had the support of some large clients – which attracted the support of more, similarly sized groups.
It is the support of some of these big companies that is behind the company’s planned expansion to 17 countries across the Asia Pacific, and a country manager recently hired in Singapore.
“Hong Kong might come just after July but with that we have in the back of our minds we have been invited by the companies to go to the US and talk to their operations there,” he said.
“With the conversation going the way it is going – probably by the end of the year we will be flagging the US as well.”
As part of this, Zapala Go is looking into developing a container tracking method – meaning that tracking of moving goods will become a lot more focused.
“That will be coming next year,” Ferri says.
“We have already be trialling and testing with a couple of our customers and we will be pretty much the first ones outside of the shipping industry to do that… that is going to be something very interesting.”
Helping to fund the expansion is a new investor, Cadmon Advisory & Ventures, which joins the register alongside existing shareholders Black Sheep Capital, BlueChilli and Artesian.
With the investment comes the appointment of Cadmon executive director and EFM Logistics co-founder Matthew Barbuto as a second director of Zapala Go.
“He is pretty much in my opinion one of the most brilliant people I have met in the industry,” Ferri says.
“He has really been helping me to shape up the company and prepare it for the future, and of course someone with a lot of experience has been mentoring me as well, which is a great thing to have around.”
For his part, Barbuto says he is “thrilled” to be part of the company, “having spent many years investing in and commercialising disruptive technology solutions for logistics markets.”
“Zapala Go delivers massive productivity improvements with demonstrable ROI’s and just as importantly, provides huge enhancements to the quality of end customer and supplier experiences when interacting with companies on our platform,” he says.
Cadmon managing director Cameron Low also says his fund has “significant plans for Zapala Go.”
“The start-up scene here is thriving and we as investors want to help early stage companies we believe in and whose future we can help shape,” he says.
For Ferri, the growth of the company and the expansion of its product lines create a new challenge – how to develop the business while maintaining the service focus that helped the company grow in the first place.
“We have been growing ZapalaGo for the past few years and now we feel we are ready to go global, and the reason that we feel that way is because we invested in all the things we had on our plate since day one. We have tried very hard to be focused on the industry and how we can help companies,” he says.
“I do not want to just grow like crazy with no structure or no plans, and in a couple of years I am just another story of an Australian company that went broke because of a CEO that didn’t know how to manage.”
With new employees joining the company on almost a daily basis, Ferri says his focus is on making sure that the growing team can work and move forward together.
“We want to continue doing the great work but make sure our staff is happy, our customers are confident and we wouldn’t be able to do that if we didn’t have a plan,” he says.
“It has been very helpful to have that plan to grow the right way at the right pace and make sure that everything is in place and we have enough money in the bank.”
This article was originally published at ATN’s website. For original article please click here.
LANDING PADS CASE STUDY
Australian SaaS Startup for the moving and storage industries uses Singapore Landing Pad to take ASEAN by storm
Sometimes, a commercial innovation occurs by chance, which means the accidental innovator faces a big question straight away: could this really go global?
When Carlos Ferri arrived in Sydney from Brazil a decade ago, his first job was with a removals company. One of the first things he noticed was that storage and removals companies in Australia did not use software to manage day-to-day operations.
Two years later, Carlos did something about it. As a warehouse manager consultant for one of Australia’s biggest international relocations and storage companies, he started working on a software that would enable all stakeholders to have instant visibility on the status of their goods or property, whether in storage or in transit.
‘By 2015, this software focused on warehouse management was a great success and my new company held the IP,’ says Ferri, the founder of Sydney-based Zapala Go. ‘Then I thought: “Surely this software is a marketable product and I can take it even further than just a solution to manage warehouses”.
In March 2015, Ferri took the software to an incubator called BlueChilli, which turned the software into a complete cloud-based solution for moving and storage companies called Zapala Go.
‘The reception in Australia was terrific,’ says Ferri. ‘By mid-2018, we had sold Zapala Go into seven of the ten largest removals and storage companies in Australia.
‘Then we got a global break. In July 2018, Allied Pickfords asked us to roll out Zapala Go to their global operations. This was a big moment, because Allied Pickfords has operations in 70 countries. It was also a big challenge, because we didn’t.’
An Asia-first strategy
Ferri immediately sought advice from Austrade, who suggested that the Singapore Landing Pad might prove a helpful first step in creating a physical presence in the Asia-Pacific region.
‘The Landing Pads program would give my company the smoothest possible launch into Asia, because Singapore is a genuine regional hub, and that was a huge attraction,’ he says.
In addition, Ferri knew that Austrade’s Asia-Pacific network could help generate vital introductions to venture capitalists, customers and industry conferences. In September 2018, he set off for Singapore.
Practical, proactive and professional advice
The Singapore Landing Pad is based in a co-working space at Singapore’s central business district. The co-working space meant Ferri was surrounded by other startups. An Australian employee joined Ferri and simultaneously trained for the new role of Zapala Go Asia-Pacific Business Manager.
‘The Landing Pads mentor was Singaporean and absolutely superb,’ says Ferri. ‘She knew how to set up a business in Singapore; what risks to anticipate; and how to hire people. She knew everything that we needed to know and delivered all the value of a high-paid consultant.’
The briefing sessions arranged by Austrade included suggestions for how to approach venture capitalists and how to write proposals for commercial customers in Singapore.
‘During the three-month residency, we worked with the Landing Pads manager virtually every day,’ Ferri says. ‘She was amazing.’
Singapore: quick step into Asia
The Singapore Landing Pad proved the perfect route for Zapala Go’s planned rapid expansion into the Asia-Pacific region. According to Ferri, he learned most of what he needed to learn about the region from his new base in Singapore – and from making contacts there.
‘The Landing Pads manager in Singapore introduced me to Austrade trade commissioners in multiple countries, including Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam,’ he says. ‘This made it far easier for me to start building my business in the region.
‘When I went looking for the biggest removals companies in Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, the trade commissioners already knew who I was and their business-development teams were keen to help.’
Ferri’s time in Singapore was a commercial success. By the time he left Singapore, Zapala Go was on the verge of signing a second major contract. He attributes this in part to Austrade’s activism in Singapore.
High value for small businesses
Now the Landing Pads residency is over, Ferri identifies two principal benefits to small companies: the reduced risks of regional expansion; and time saved from instant access to local know-how.
‘Going to Singapore with Austrade proved a great first stop because it allowed us to test Zapala Go in the region,’ says Ferri. ‘We could make sure that expanding into Asia Pacific really was the right next step, before committing to rent and hiring staff.
‘For Zapala Go, the Singapore Landing Pad lowered the business risk of expanding into the Asia-Pacific region.’
The program also saved Zapala Go valuable time and money. With independent advice on multiple issues – including working visas and employment contracts – Zapala reduced the amount of management effort required to set up shop in his new Asia hub.
‘The advice we received on visa and employment issues saved me from having to learn how to set up a local business the hard way,’ he says. ‘That is real value-add and the saving was just incredible.’
Zapala Go is now permanently established at an office complex in Singapore and the company is powering ahead with its global strategy.
‘We are about to sign a series of huge contracts with a large overseas banking company,’ says Ferri. ‘In hindsight, the Singapore Landing Pad proved the perfect vehicle to grow our business into Asia.’
This case study was originally published at Austrade’s website. For original article please click here
At an inner Sydney restaurant on Monday night a group of entrepreneurs, investors and business people gathered for Innovation Bay, one of the longest running features of Australia’s startup community.
Since being founded in 2003, over 300 tech startups have raised more than $10 million in seed capital after presenting at the networking group’s dinners which also introduces them to a network of local angel investors and business mentors.
Zapala Go, a cloud-based platform for end-to-end management of warehousing, removal, relocation and storage businesses, has been launched by Sydney-based logistics company Zapala.
The company says Zapala Go “allows business operators to track and trace storage boxes or containers from overseas agents, interstate or local, through acceptance into warehouses, into storage, and then back out to customer premises, with full control of jobs, electronic inventories, goods with history, photos and specific locations”.
Warehousing and removals management company Zapala has announced the launch of a cloud-based platform for managing warehousing, removal, relocation and storage businesses.
Dubbed Zapala Go, the system was developed in co-operation with tech start-up BlueChilli and will allow the warehousing management industry to manage entire operations from a secure, scalable cloud-based platform.
New cloud platform looks to simplify the warehouse and removals industry
Warehousing and removals company Zapala has launched Zapala Go, a cloud-based platform for businesses managing warehousing, relocation and storage.