PORTUGAL - Transport
Co-founder & General Manager, Wide Scope
Entrepreneur, mathematician, business strategist, speaker at entrepreneurship events. But also advisor of dissertations, scientific papers publisher and conferences speaker. Above all, father of two. From its Lisbon-based home and without any funding whatsoever he founded Wide Scope with Ana Pereira in 2003. The company was quickly ranked as one of the highest growth companies in Portugal, and then one of the 500 fastest growing tech companies in EMEA. It is now present in several countries and serves customers from all over the world.
Can you elaborate on the evolution of your company and its core business?
Wide Scope started in 2003 with a team of mathematicians and AI practitioners who built a piece of software called Routyn for routing optimization. Routyn is a fleet routing and scheduling system. With skills that aggregate knowledge from math, AI, and IT, we developed new approaches that reduce costs and improve our clients’ operational efficiencies beyond what the most experienced person can plan. Overall, the system allows any fleet to be more efficient by delivering cargo faster at the lowest cost possible. Our customers are companies from all over the world in all kinds of industries, from distribution retailers to FMCG, whether it is medical, gas, private beverage distribution, or construction companies. When operating a professional fleet, a company has to do it efficiently to reduce miles, limit fuel consumption, and deliver more in less time and money. That is what the product does: boosts operational efficiency.
More consumers have begun shopping online in greater numbers and frequency after COVID-19. How did you capitalize on that?
One major change brought by the pandemic was that many companies were required to shut down their physical presences during the lockdown, though had to keep selling and delivering to customers at home. We launched a program to help companies who had never delivered anything before. We did this for free, with no commitments, during lockdown to help these companies that had no other means of planning or operating their own logistics because they had never done it before. The entire e-commerce logistics sector grew significantly, and we helped these companies deliver more at lower costs. All our e-commerce customers grew, and we grew alongside them. We also saw the entry of quick commerce or almost instant e-commerce, where deliveries are made in less than an hour, measured in minutes. In the market today, there are many companies that did not exist before the pandemic that deliver groceries, or even televisions, in less than one hour.
What is your strategy to consolidate and expand your business internationally?
Since 2015, we have started to grow internationally. We started in Sydney, the location of our first office, and continued to expand to Singapore, London, France, and Cyprus. We also have a strong presence in Turkey with several customers. We are about to launch our products in the US, though we already have some customers there. We provide services to several sectors, such as healthcare, medical, F&B, construction, and retail. We are very strong in retail, and this is where we have most of our customer, especially in the UK, Portugal, and France. These are the companies that require routing efficiency the most.
How do you approach new potential clients and educate them about the benefits of your services and the uniqueness of your digital tools?
Almost all our leads are from word of mouth. It is usually a company that achieved a certain level of earnings or won an internal innovation award. We even have some customers that have won logistic awards nationally. Everyone likes to show that their company is doing something innovative and reducing costs, not only internally but also externally. Within logistics and transport, there is a great deal of rotation of people from company to company. We have had logistic managers moving to another company, and one of their signing conditions was the new company subscribing to Routyn. That is the type of word of mouth promotion that we benefit from. Most of what we do is the pre-sales approach, where a customer approaches us or we receive a referral for an interesting customer. We speak with them and propose a proof of concept. We are certain our product tool will save them time and money while improving efficiency. We generally provide the software and do a modelling of the business operation for free with no commitments, because most companies eventually realize how much of an improvement the software delivers. We are operating in an extremely specific niche market. This product is not a commodity, as it is extremely high tech and specific. It is hard to say if there is a similar product in this niche market. There are competitors that have been in the market far longer than we have, though the key distinguishing feature of our product is that it was created precisely to fill in the gap of what customers were complaining about with other products in the market. That is where we are positioned. We have some barriers of entry when it comes to new competitors with the kind of algorithms that we use.
Can you share with your ambitions and targets set in your 2022 agenda?
We will keep on investing on the automated learning techniques of the system. We realized how much potential there is still to explore in automating the whole supply-chain planning and execution with AI and optimization tools. In the past our company grew 500% over 5 years in a row. We are preparing the grounds for the next jump.
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