Zapala Go readies for overseas move

By: Andrew Hobbs


It has helped some of Australia’s largest companies with warehousing, transport and removals. Now Zapala Go is getting ready for its biggest move yet.

Zapala Go readies for overseas move
Zapala Go founder and chief executive Carlos Ferri

 

Warehousing and removals company Zapala Go is spreading its wings, into Asia and beyond, after securing work with a pair of global clients.

It’s a significant expansion for the company and its founder and chief executive Carlos Ferri, and comes less than 10 years after he first arrived in Australia, as a Brazilian Apple representative looking to brush up on his English skills.

"After three years of work in Australia – I had never planned to have a business, but I thought I would just try," he says.

That "try" came with Ferri’s purchase of a truck and the start of work on the road – building the company that he called Zapala.

But it was while working with this company that Ferri sensed an opportunity, finding that the processes of paperwork were too cumbersome and "the solutions weren’t there".

"I actually made that decision to become more efficient to see warehouses be better managed. That was the entire idea behind it – the decision to move these processes to the cloud."

The need for "a different way to do stuff" led to the birth of Zapala Go, a transferrable solution for businesses managing warehousing, relocation and storage of items that is accessible from anywhere.

Using Zapala Go’s online dashboard, a client can follow the progress of a job, track storage boxes and containers both abroad and in the warehouse and control job and electronic inventories with tags, photos and location data.

"We realised if we wanted to really grow, we needed to have more features rather than just the warehousing, so we made the decision to build the entire platform for the industry, from the moment that they get a quote all the way to when they are invoicing, and everything in between," Ferri says.

"So for the bigger companies we use some of the features, the other companies we use less features – but the main thing is, all are using the core system."


ATN first reported on Zapala Go back in 2015 - check out what we had to say at the time here.


The system can also set up alerts, define user permissions and help find items misplaced along the way – with Ferri saying the company focuses on solving problems brought to it by its clientele – such as goods damaged in transit or items misplaced because they have not been tracked properly.

This had led to a share of success stories, such as one client that recorded a 65 per cent drop in their insurance claims because of the company’s record management processes.

"There is no excuse when someone says oh, my fridge is damaged – I can look at the photos and all the descriptions here and you find those damages weren’t there – so it becomes very honest between all parties," Ferri says.

"That is something we enjoy being a part of. If we can empower them to do business as usual and we take all the things they are worried about, like where is the paperwork… if we take all this away and just let them do what they do best, I think the customers will be happy."

Ferri adds that Zapala Go made it a priority to work with the customer with a view to helping solve their problems – whether that solution comes through company articles, training videos or in helping to physically introduce the work system.

Responding to customer needs was the reason behind Zapala Go’s introduction of checklists as part of its response to changing Chain of Responsibility regulations.

These checklists extend not only to vehicles, but to the workers themselves and even the site that they are entering, Ferri says.

"We don’t want to replace people and how they do business, we just want to empower them to do business the way that they do and take all the hassle out of getting right," he says.

"Our entire focus was to make sure that the product was fixing the problem – focusing more on the medium and bigger companies."

Growing pains

It is this customer focus that saw the company’s focus on the big end of town succeed, Ferri says.

"What we noticed was as niche as we were, companies were taking it more seriously, rather than saying – that is just another start-up company trying something else," he said.

"Big and medium companies are always looking for a solution to their problems. I have seen a lot of other companies switch from other software to us because they tried something that was not quite right for their industry."

Having limited local competition had also helped Zapala Go to stand out, he said, as had the support of some large clients – which attracted the support of more, similarly sized groups.

It is the support of some of these big companies that is behind the company’s planned expansion to 17 countries across the Asia Pacific, and a country manager recently hired in Singapore.

"Hong Kong might come just after July but with that we have in the back of our minds we have been invited by the companies to go to the US and talk to their operations there," he said.

"With the conversation going the way it is going – probably by the end of the year we will be flagging the US as well."

As part of this, Zapala Go is looking into developing a container tracking method – meaning that tracking of moving goods will become a lot more focused.

"That will be coming next year," Ferri says.

"We have already be trialling and testing with a couple of our customers and we will be pretty much the first ones outside of the shipping industry to do that… that is going to be something very interesting."

Helping to fund the expansion is a new investor, Cadmon Advisory & Ventures, which joins the register alongside existing shareholders Black Sheep Capital, BlueChilli and Artesian.

With the investment comes the appointment of Cadmon executive director and EFM Logistics co-founder Matthew Barbuto as a second director of Zapala Go.

"He is pretty much in my opinion one of the most brilliant people I have met in the industry," Ferri says.

"He has really been helping me to shape up the company and prepare it for the future, and of course someone with a lot of experience has been mentoring me as well, which is a great thing to have around."

For his part, Barbuto says he is "thrilled" to be part of the company, "having spent many years investing in and commercialising disruptive technology solutions for logistics markets."

"Zapala Go delivers massive productivity improvements with demonstrable ROI’s and just as importantly, provides huge enhancements to the quality of end customer and supplier experiences when interacting with companies on our platform," he says.

Cadmon managing director Cameron Low also says his fund has "significant plans for Zapala Go."

"The start-up scene here is thriving and we as investors want to help early stage companies we believe in and whose future we can help shape," he says.

For Ferri, the growth of the company and the expansion of its product lines create a new challenge – how to develop the business while maintaining the service focus that helped the company grow in the first place.

"We have been growing ZapalaGo for the past few years and now we feel we are ready to go global, and the reason that we feel that way is because we invested in all the things we had on our plate since day one. We have tried very hard to be focused on the industry and how we can help companies," he says.

"I do not want to just grow like crazy with no structure or no plans, and in a couple of years I am just another story of an Australian company that went broke because of a CEO that didn’t know how to manage."

With new employees joining the company on almost a daily basis, Ferri says his focus is on making sure that the growing team can work and move forward together.

"We want to continue doing the great work but make sure our staff is happy, our customers are confident and we wouldn’t be able to do that if we didn’t have a plan," he says.

"It has been very helpful to have that plan to grow the right way at the right pace and make sure that everything is in place and we have enough money in the bank."

 

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