What I think about, when I think about Crew Changes 2/2022

Notes one year on from raising at Y-Combinator

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Nick Clarke
CEO and Co-founder of Greywing. @NickGreywing

Team

Last year we had just finished our fundraise at 2.5 million USD coming out of Y-Combinator. With money in the bank our first objective was to hire a top-tier technical team to support our CTO, Hrishi.

I purposely put off hiring team members on the commercial side so that we could get the Engineering team right. That seems to have been a good decision; the speed at which we are moving on the back and front end is exciting. Since early 2022 we have been making huge strides on development.

We have 6 people in Greywing including myself, our CTO and 4 engineers. I was supported by a great Chief of Staff but he recently got snapped up by a Sovereign Wealth Fund.

That is the price you pay when you hire great people. They achieve great things at your business (and he did), but they also have great opportunities. The two of us were able to move extremely fast and we didn’t stop to put structure and systems in place. So when he got an offer to good to refuse, there was no redundancy in place.

Two is one, and one is none.

A lesson from the military I should not be relearning.

But one of the upside is as the pace of technical innovation has increased our monthly burn has remained quite low - at this burn rate, we have Funds to see us into 2024.

Product

We thought the product was great last year. But as I look at what the team have now built I realise how little we knew at the time about what was achievable.

I do not want to get into the product here before this turns into a marketing post. What I would say is we started carefully tracking and responding to User feedback around the accuracy, timeliness and user experience of how they consumed information.

We solved new problems for users, made our product simpler and more accurate. Now we are hiring a Product Manager to run that process of customer feedback - analysis - iteration - building - release for the team as one of our most important hires.

As an aside, the Product Manager will complement the Head of Growth (already hired) and Customer Success Manager (final Interviews) that we have joining us. The idea is that they run the process of managing that iteration cycle with

🦸 The Head of Growth communicating to Users and Industry about what we have built

🙆 Our Customer Success Manager onboarding User and sourcing their feedback on works and what does not

🧑‍🏫 The Product Manager tying all of the feedback and user metrics we collect back into a final assessment of what the most valuable problem is that we can solve next and liaising with the engineering team to schedule it into the next sprint.

Once we have set that process up, we will look at someone coming in on the sales side. I really enjoy talking to customers and being at the heart of this business so I have written a pretty aggressive job advert for an Account Executive to Lead Sales. I wont give that responsibility up to the wrong person and I know the right person will read that job description and want to join us the next day.

No one can be told what Greywing is, you have to see it for yourself:

No one can be told what Greywing is, you have to see it for yourself.

Greywing version two is on the cusp of being released, I wont talk about it here - you need to see it for your self.

Integrations

No Software is an island.

The biggest obstacle to - and reason for - success Greywing has is integrations. What we see is clients, existing vendors and software providers slow walk the integration process or flat out refuse to do it.

I think this is for two reasons.

The first reason is that they perceive us as a threat.

They see us inserting ourselves as a digital layer between them and their clients and they do not like it. I understand this. It is hard to counter because it is a trust issue, and trust is built over time. What I would say is I have seen people change their opinions of us. Just last week a travel management company said to us they were open to collaborating because they realised we do not sell tickets.

Secondly, for software vendors such as crewing ERPS, perhaps they would quite like to do what we are doing. Or what we do is on their roadmap in future. The problem is their clients want the Greywing solution now and we see clients asking Software vendors who otherwise wont integrate with us to open APIs for us. It would be helpful to all if we could collaborate and help the industry evolve.

We very carefully chose a space within the industry where we would have no competition:

When your clients tell you to put the price up, you know its a good deal:

  1. We don’t provide crewing software.

  2. We don’t sell flight tickets.

  3. We don’t provide port agency services.

What Greywing does is provide a single easy to use platform to help our clients integrate their supply chain to operate more efficiently and to introduce digitisation into their businesses.

We work for the ship operator and they pay us a very reasonable monthly fee.

We have built some relationships with very permissive Crewing ERPs that are keen to get to market. Much of the industry is not digitised and we are recommending them wherever we can to help our clients reach their digital future. To anyone running a Crewing ERP please feel free to reach out to us, we love to collaborate and we do so for free, no commissions or integration fees.

The way most companies give referrals:

No software is an island, having software that does not integrate with others is like having a Nokia 3210. Sure you can make a call with it but you are never going to book an Uber.

If you know you know - living my best life as a 16 year old. But it couldn’t book an Uber:

Perhaps their view will shift once we have been present in the industry for longer and as clients ask for us to be integrated.

There is a new generation of interoperable Maritime Software that is coming to the fore (less of an Island more of an Archipelago). They see their competitive advantage to unseat existing incumbents being in their ability easily plug into other systems so clients can do what they wish with the software they buy instead of being channeled into long-term mediocrity. So we will see how things play out.

Summary

It has been an awesome year building Greywing and I want to say a big thank you to everyone who supported us from clients, to Users to our team members. It is so exciting to be moving so fast in a traditional slow to move industry and it is a cool adventure to be on. We are hiring here so if you love our mission and want to contribute let us know.

Mission: What Greywing does is integrates your digital and physical vendors so we can automate anything that gets on or off a vessel, excluding cargo.

Right now we are starting with Crew Changes.


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