Interview with John Monarch - CEO of ShipChain
Image Courtesy: ShipChain's John Monarch answers pointed questions about why Blockchain is the right solution for shipping and logistics
1) How did the idea for ShipChain originate? What specific problems did you want to solve?
I have been in the shipping and logistics industry for several years now, so I have experienced the inefficiencies and issues first-hand. The idea for ShipChain came about when my now-partners and I were chatting about blockchain technology as a whole and the impact that it could have on the world. I was telling them about the difficulties I was dealing with in regards to shipments from my other company, Direct Outbound. I was constantly seeing issues with large freight movements and their visibility, and due to the nature of the industry, there was no way to figure out where the shipments were running into problems, and who needed to be held accountable. They were also dealing with similar issues, and through this conversation, we quickly realized the massive impact that blockchain technology could have on shipping and logistics. Thus came the genesis of ShipChain. We have made it our mission to unify track and trace while eliminating the need to involve third parties and added costs, improve visibility, add a layer of accountability, reduce costs, and align the incentives of everyone involved, from drivers to shippers and everyone in between.
2) Do you think a solution based on Blockchain is foolproof?
There are no foolproof solutions when it comes to technology. Each and every new technology will encounter its own unique set of challenges, and blockchain is no exception. That being said, blockchain is able to solve a lot of the industry’s biggest issues simply by increasing visibility for all parties involved. With more transparency comes increased accountability and less fraud, thereby benefiting everyone in the supply chain. Additionally, blockchain is unique in that it is almost impossible to hack due to the fact that it is all decentralized.
3) Many people do not yet fully grasp how a blockchain solution works and are thus hesitant to implement it for their organizations. How do you propose to change this mindset of people?
One of our biggest goals right now is to educate industry leaders on the importance of adopting blockchain technology. We plan to do this by putting out educational content on our own channels including Youtube, the ShipChain blog, our social media, and so on. We also plan on attending conferences all over the world so that we are able to meet face to face with some of the biggest players in the industry. We are confident that the data speaks for itself and that once people understand how much more they could be doing and saving with blockchain, there will be no looking back.
4) Is the industry accepting of future technology? What were the obstacles you had to face?
One of the biggest obstacles that we have faced is the resistance to change and the hesitation to leave behind familiar protocol. It is pretty evident that the industry has not been very quick to embrace new technological trends. This is evidenced in the fact that pen and paper is still the primary medium for logging data while the rest of the world is embracing the digital era. That is why education is such an important part of the process for us. Our mission is clear: the shipping and logistics industry is being bogged down by archaic processes and blockchain will boost transparency, efficiency, and overall profit for all parties in the supply chain.
5) What tangible changes have the ShipChain platform brought to the logistics sector? Can you elaborate in terms of time, capital and customer response?
ShipChain is bringing a lot of amazing improvements and changes shipping and logistics as a whole. These changes are monumental for the companies that we are working with through our Pilot Program. At this time, we aren’t able to elaborate on tangible numbers and figures due to the nature of our NDAs, but we will elaborate on customer responses as soon as we can.
Generally speaking, one of the biggest issues that we are solving is the lack of a unified tracking and tracing system. This is something that will be profoundly beneficial to everyone in the supply chain. Additionally, cargo theft and fraud are both huge issues that blockchain technology will help mitigate due to the increase in transparency and thereby accountability. Lastly, ShipChain is reducing middleman markup by forcing carriers and forwarders to justify the prices they charge for their services.
6) How has your journey been from inception to now? What do you foresee for the future?
We have had an amazing journey so far. Since we started ShipChain in late 2017, we have met with a lot of interest and excitement from the industry. Because blockchain is still a fairly new technology, especially in its relation to shipping and logistics, our focus on being industry educators we know will pay dividends in our growth. We are very confident in our mission, our technology, and our team, all of which make us confident that we are on track to become the preeminent company in this space.
7) What advice do you have for tech startups in the shipping industry?
The best advice I could give anyone in the industry would be to continue expanding your horizons and to never close yourself off to new opportunities or ideas. You have to continue to educate yourself as the world is constantly evolving and things can change in the blink of an eye. With the sheer amount of freely available information on the internet, there’s no reason why anyone shouldn’t continue their education.