Time flexibility, immediacy, geolocation and process optimization are some of the ingredients that have developed and boosted many startups in the logistics ecosystem in Spain. All this, combined with technology and industry 4.0, have made this sector one of the champions in innovation.
Together with artificial intelligence there is a series of startups with a business model based on intelligent mailboxes and SAAS tools. The proliferation of new digital systems has brought with it the creation of new markets such as ecommerce and blockchain, where many startups have decided to innovate. Also, startups have emerged based on the comparison of services and providers, with the aim of providing the user with an overview of the services available and the price of each of them. And if that weren’t enough, logistics has not only focused on turning the traditional business model into a futuristic one, but has gone even further. Now, people don’t have to go to a supermarket to do the shopping, since there are platforms that allow the user to receive their shopping at home in less than an hour. Yes, we are talking about startups that have experimented with the food delivery challenge.
In this sense, according to the latest report presented by the Spanish Logistics Center (CEL) most logistics service companies are small businesses, 79.79% to be precise. Regarding turnover, 41% of companies are below the one million Euro mark. 32% exceeds 5 million, with few companies invoicing the intermediate range. With respect to the ranking of operators, Correos ranks first both as the main logistics operator in terms of turnover and volume. Regarding the top ten operators, Correos has 26.3% of turnover followed by Deutsche Post (17.55%) and Seur (8.35%), XPO Logistics in fifth position (7.46%) and Logista (5.92%) in seventh place.
Some of these figures are due to the challenges faced by the sector, which is why there are startups dedicated to logistics. For the CEL team, the main challenges that these companies must deal with are consumer expectations, returns or reverse logistics, city congestion, seasonal fluctuation, as well as the suitability of the labor market, profitability and operational efficiency and digital transformation.
This has led to the creation of initiatives and mentoring programs that aim to guide startups, promote good practices, combat the challenges of the sector and adjust the idea of the entrepreneur to the trends of the logistics sector.
PROGRAMS AND MENTORING
Many corporate initiatives are being carried out in Spain with the aim of incubating, launching and boosting startups in the logistics sector. Among the different projects, CorreosLabs, which was created in 2017 by the public postal service company Correos, stands out. This initiative was created to accommodate entrepreneurs and help them develop their business ideas. The CorreosLabs center is located in the Las Tablas neighborhood, to the north of Madrid, and its facilities include 30 independent stands, a more private area–equipped with acoustic insulation–as well as a set of formal and informal meeting rooms, an assembly hall for 60 people and several rest areas.
After its inauguration, CorreosLabs launched the Lehnica Challenge initiative. A project aimed at companies with a maximum of three years in operation, where winners benefit from a financial contribution of up to 30,000 Euro for the implementation of their idea within one year. Through the Lehnica Challenge, the company wants to see how the accelerated startups grow and aims to be part of that growth as partners, this being a guarantee of business continuity of the startup with the Correos brand.
Along with this, the Spanish Logistics Center (CEL) is also one of the driving forces in the sector. The entity’s mission focuses on the generation and dissemination of knowledge to improve supply chain management. This is done through innovation programs (with prospecting and analysis), the development of reference sector projects for the development of best practices (strategic partnerships) and the implementation of the communication process (dissemination and training).
The eDelivery Accelerator Barcelona focuses on the same line, which this year allowed to deepen the mutual knowledge (startups and consolidated companies) in relation to the needs and challenges created by the growth and sophistication in the distribution of physical products to the digital consumers. The selected startups had five months of sessions, organizational challenges and presentation of services to large companies, in addition to working in physical (non-digital) and defined environments. In this way, they prepared to connect with investors and were able to showcase their products and services at the international reference event 4YFN (2019 edition).
Insomnia Fintech is another hub dedicated to boosting startups in the logistics sector. Insomnia’s model is specialized in the acceleration and incubation of technology-based projects through an agreement with large companies that put their trust in the entity to incorporate the latest innovations into their business model. This hub stands out because it provides talent with the best conditions for growth. Insomnia assures that “an environment of trust is created between startups and companies without the need to ask for capital from the startup, we only help them to make money, grow and consolidate”. The initiative is in the former base of Team Germany of the America’s Cup, in the dock of the Port of Valencia in a 4,000 m2 building. And, if that wasn’t enough, this hub has been chosen by the specialized press as the accelerator with the best facilities in Spain.
Kaleido Logistics is also one of the strongest names in the startup acceleration ecosystem. Kaleido is committed to logistical challenges, solving inefficiencies and moving from theory to practice. Their goal? To move mountains, add value and change the rules of the game. This is a logistics operator that undertakes projects in the sector from and to anywhere in the world, by land, sea and air. This initiative conceives ideas seeking excellence for those who entrust them with their logistical needs.
Another program that stands out in terms of application to logistics companies is Mercabarna, a food city that operates 24 hours a day with the aim of ensuring the supply of fresh food to citizens. On its premises it concentrates more than 700 companies specialized in the distribution, elaboration, import and export of fresh and frozen products. Mercabarna has wholesale markets in Barcelona and an area of complementary activities (ZAC) where you can find firms specializing in areas such as the handling, preparation, packaging or conservation of all types of food; as well as purchasing centers for large distribution chains; companies specializing in supplying the catering sector; and finally, logistics companies specializing in food and their support for users.
The sixth initiative that supports the emerging logistics sector in Spain is Port 4.0, the open corporate innovation model adopted by the States’s ports and the Spanish Port Authorities to attract, support and facilitate the application of talent and entrepreneurship to the Spanish public and private logistics-port sector in the context of the 4th industrial revolution. The main objective of the Fund is to promote and actively incorporate disruptive or incremental innovation as an element of competitiveness, efficiency, sustainability, security and protection in the public and private Spanish logistics-port sector, in order to facilitate its transition towards the 4.0 economy. This initiative encourages the creation or consolidation of a network of startups, spin-offs or new lines of business in the technological field in existing companies that develop innovative products, services or processes for the port logistics sector with a market orientation.
It seems that all the actors involved are heading in the same direction, with very clear and structured aims which nonetheless require great efforts from everyone involved.
In order to help clarify who the agents of the startup ecosystem in the logistics sector are, the El Referente magazine wanted to bring together all the startups in this area in an infographic presented in this report. This illustration will serve as a pointer to define the different categories, or specialties, that have been promoted in Spain in order to develop the logistics sector in Spain through startups and purely technological companies that are structured in the following categories:
- Smart Mailboxes
- Food Delivery
- Inventory Management
- SAAS Tools
- Artificial Intelligence
- Inland Transportation
- Last mile