Setting Ventures In Motion: A Network Approach To Moving Maritime Forward

In Episode 47 of MING Labs’ podcast Lost In Transformation, we talk to Shaun Hon, General Partner at Motion Ventures.

Listen to this episode to learn how a strategic venture investment fund aims to accelerate tech adoption in the maritime industry, and how their network approach breaks silos to improve collaboration.

3 Main Takeaways From This Episode

01The biggest learning: understanding the importance of lowering the risk barriers for others.
“Everyone has a maximum threshold of risk level or bar that they would accept before not acting on the proposition and turning it down.“ In fact, lowering the risks really makes moving the whole process forward possible, and there are many ways to make it happen. Shaun points at some of them as especially important and effective: “And for me, a lot of it really comes down to listening and understanding the concerns at the other end of the table and addressing those concerns. As an example, from a fundraising perspective, even if I was speaking to the CEO of a company for an investment, he probably wouldn’t be this sole decision-maker. He very likely has to get alignment and a majority go-ahead from his board of directors. And if I don’t understand what those concerns are from the board and address those concerns, it’s going to be really difficult for the CEO to push an investment on my behalf. But if I can address those concerns and bring down the risk barrier for the CEO and the board members, it’s a much easier process to move forward.”

Shaun says that this approach applies not only to fundraising but other areas too: B2B sales, recruitment, working in a team, and beyond. It is a lot about empathy and understanding stakeholders, managing their connections and relations in order to be able to bring relevant and acceptable solutions: “And I think ultimately it comes down to two things: One is having more empathy for people I work with and people around me. And number two, it’s extending the scope of who a stakeholder is to me, such that my stakeholder stakeholders are also my stakeholders.”

(Listen from 13:48 min)

02Measuring success of the Motion Ventures solutions: ventures’ success is their own success.
“So for us, it’s important that the ventures that we back do well and how would I measure success across different ventures? On a high level, the measure is that the companies are getting strong revenue, traction, and also scaling well.” Shaun shares the list of five factors that help assess the venture's success. “So number one to me is can the venture make and build a product? And I think this is the bare minimum needed for a venture to be able to build. Number two, once they’ve built a product, do people want to buy it? So if people wanna buy it, that proves that there’s a product-market fit to what’s being built. Number three, can the venture make a positive growth margin selling that product to those people?

This proves that the cost structure is sustainable as the venture is not selling something at a loss, right? Number four, […] is the lifetime value of the customer larger than the customer acquisition costs? Number five, can the venture scale with more money deployed to grow that business? And what this means here is that growing 10%, when you have a hundred users is really different from growing 10% with a million users.” Using these indicators helps to understand where the venture really stands at the particular moment in time, “And the more they can take off these boxes, I think the more successful they are and the more successful we are as well, and we’re in the process to help them do that.”

(Listen from16:12 min)

03The maritime space is like a time machine: What the future of this industry will look like?
“So more specifically, maybe there are a few observations off the top of my head, which I see the industry moving towards. And number one is data interoperability. For the last few years, the maritime industry has been mining data in silos in their various organizations.” Shaun predicts that legal data safety regulations, as well as a strong need for a resilient supply chain, will support the industry move in the direction of easily shared information across various platforms.

The other trend that we will likely see is workflow automation. Currently, the supply chain and maritime industry dealing with inefficient workflows such as wasting time on low-value tasks like data entry. As Shaun explains: “thanks to recent advancements in computer vision and machine learning, there are many opportunities for software to automate common workflows, whether it’s data entry or invoice processing, and these all need very limited oversights from human.” This innovative technology will transform the industry, and help to focus on the higher-value tasks.

(Listen from 19:11 min)

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