The Norwegian start-up Maritime Optima is preparing to launch a better digital interaction tool for the shipping industry. Despite troubled markets and Covid19, the company is gearing up for growth. To aid the launch of their new product, the company has increased staff, added new board members and successfully raised capital.
Maritime Optima develops a smart maritime Collaboration Platform.
– We are proud to be part of the Norwegian maritime cluster, delivering yet another technological innovation. The Norwegian maritime cluster, ranging from sailors, shipping companies, yards, design, finance and insurance is well known world-wide. Our contribution will aid the shipping industry to renew the way we work together. The time is right to implement new tools that better utilise human competence and get people to work in teams, says experienced serial entrepreneur Kristin Omholt-Jensen.
She is proud of the team-effort in her own company, and happy to see her team increase in size and strength as she is preparing to get her product in the marketplace.
– In recent weeks, we have succeeded raising capital, strengthening the board, recruiting more qualified employees and make the product ready for gradual rollout. We are ready to work with the industry to ensure an efficient, modern and user-friendly work tool for ocean shipping, says Omholt-Jensen.
Omholt-Jensen has a long history within Norwegian shipping and chartering.
– I was surprised to experience that many shipping companies has not grasped the full potential of digital technology to improve their workflow. Many of today’s methods have not evolved much since I worked as a charterer more than 15 years ago. We believe shipping companies will benefit greatly by using more advanced digital tools to more easily share and manage information. Our project is about collaborating and sharing, she says.
Capital raising and expanded governance
After an intense period with product development, Kristin is now ready to face the market. She is pleased to see the support of new solid investors and a very competent board.
Krysse AS, the founders, board members and employees are now contributing a total of NOK 17 million to ensure that the company has the strength to build and grow.
– I strongly believe we have a good product, and I am very satisfied that we achieve this while many other companies experience trouble due to the global Covid-19 situation. Krysse AS is represented with Petter Hatlem as chairman of the board. Hatlem has extensive experience from the shipping sector and business development, says Omholt-Jensen.
The board also has two new board members join the team. Petter Mannsverk Andresen has a successful track-record as a financial advisor for maritime companies in various phases. Former Minister of Transport Ketil Solvik-Olsen is also joining the board. He is known for his enthusiasm for the transport sector, and his willingness to reform and use digital tools to promote efficient and profitable logistics. Omholt-Jensen, Hatlem and Solvik-Olsen are former colleagues from the shipping company Leif Höegh & Co ASA.
A stronger crew
Our young developers from NTNU Gjøvik started with me during summer of 2019. Bjarte, Jørgen and Morten have done a fantastic job bringing us this far. We are now adding even more experienced developers, says Omholt-Jensen.
– Starting April 1st, Pål-Robert Engnæs took the role of CTO in Maritime Optima. His maritime background is from Kongsberg Maritime and as a partner with Kristin in both Rendra and i-Sea.
– We are now five developers and will add an additional experienced person just after summer. A good team, cool technology and an exciting concept creates an attractive development environment, which attracts even more talent. That’s an important part of our road to success, says an enthusiastic Omholt-Jensen.
With the launch approaching, Maritime Optima also expands their customer support team, as well as marketing and sales. Kirsten Rasmussen joined on March 1 and has many years of experience in chartering from Klaveness and other companies.
– We are looking for professionals who want to help others succeed. We are in this for the long-term, emphasizing collaboration and good partnerships. We see good things happen when we mix talented people, passion and the pleasure of helping one another to succeed, says Omholt-Jensen.
Entrepreneurial experience comes in handy
Maritime Optima is Kristin’s third tech startup. It started as a simple sketch.
– The idea evolved when my son and I were brainstorming after I had sold i-Sea to Altor and Goldman Sachs in 2017. I reflected on how digital tools had improved many processes in public and private sectors, yet within the maritime industry many things were still reminiscent of how we worked in the 1990s. Having surveyed several major shipping companies, we found common ground and started our work during the summer of 2019. I’m very grateful for the assistance of Innovation Norway in getting us off the ground quickly.
For Maritime Optima, the key words are sharing, collaboration and “Mobile First Design Strategy”. We know change can be difficult, and thus we emphasize developing Maritime Optima together with the users. Software must be easy to understand, fast to use and affordable. We want to develop a digital tool so easy and efficient that people will prefer to bring their “office” in their pockets. However, from her previous projects, Kristin knows that the proof is in the pudding. It takes time to change habits and build trust. Our experience makes us well prepared for the challenge.
– It sounds so easy to get people to collaborate and share. But to have success, you need to understand how this business work and its legal framework. Our team’s long history within shipping helps us establish a solid foundation. I’m confident we will succeed getting the maritime industry to better share and collaborate, says Omholt-Jensen.