Interview with Unafix founder, Jeroen Wolthuis
Tell us a bit about yourself?
The best description of myself would be a maritime legal counsel, fascinated by the opportunities digitalisation has to offer. I know my way around computer code as well as I know my way around maritime law and I am grateful that I can professionally combine the two by being the co-founder of Unafix.
How long have you been in the Breakbulk industry?
When I started my career working on the claims department of a P&I Club seven years ago, one of the first things I noticed was how many maritime claims originate from ambiguity in recap charter/parties, and how this unnecessarily shatters commercial relationships. I gradually started keeping track of how many of the claims that I dealt with that could have been avoided in the terms of the recap c/p and started to work on a solution in my spare time. This solution evolved into what is now known as “Unafix”, short for Unambiguously Fixed. Unafix is a software solution that helps users draft recap charter/parties, negotiate the terms thereof with their contractual counterparts, and stores the finalised and signed contracts. The algorithm provides the user with real-time, automated legal guidance to promote compliance with English law, Hague-Visby Rules, and Insurance policies, all whilst significantly reducing the amount of time it takes to draw and negotiate a recap/charter party using existing solutions.
Unafix will be introduced to the market early in 2022 and we’re excited that AntwerpXL will be one of the first occasions where we demonstrate our solution to a broad audience.
What is your plan to introduce your new software solution to the Breakbulk industry?
Some would say that Breakbulk shipping is a conservative industry, but I disagree. The people in the industry are critical of what software they use and why, and rightfully so. We believe that software should be perfectly tailored to the specific requirements of the Breakbulk market, which is often not the case. But when it is, it can make a massive difference in terms of efficiency, and it will be embraced. If a software company can deliver a tailored product that increases efficiency, data-accessibility or generally make the lives of those working in the industry a bit more convenient, history shows that this software will be adopted by the industry.
How do you “tailor” software to the Breakbulk market?
Tailoring comes in a number of stages. The first thing you do is validate the idea that you have with potential users. Essentially this means checking whether or not building a business on top of that idea is feasible. Once that has been confirmed you proceed to a MVP-R. This is a piece of software that has the core-functionality working, but still requires a lot of fine-tuning. This is pretty much where we stand, and that is where tailoring really comes in. Our “grandfathers” play a massive role in this process and really help us achieve that optimal market-fit.
What do you mean by Grandfathers and what do they mean to your business?
We’re not developing for ourselves, but for our users. That’s why we want active user engagement and to collect user feedback to determine how to prioritise our development resources. “Grandfathers” is the term that we use for a select group of users consisting of Shipowners, Charterers and Brokers that already test-run our software, and take an active role in providing us with feedback. The direct line that we have with our Grandfathers enables us to really understand the requirements the Breakbulk market has for a solution like ours, critical information for us to optimize our market-fit. Collectively our Grandfathers largely determine how we allocate our development resources, and they enjoy playing their part in the interesting world of software development. We actually remain open to accepting new Grandfathers. Business size doesn’t matter, as long as they are open to innovation, and are either Shipowners, Charterers or Brokers people are invited to contact me to learn what being a Grandfather means.
What are you most looking forward to at AntwerpXL 2021?
AntwerpXL will be one of the first occasions where we demonstrate and showcase our solution to a broad group of maritime professionals and potential users. We’ve already validated that our software will result in more professional charter parties, significant efficiency gains and mitigated claims-exposure. Still, the outlook of actually demonstrating live software to potential customers at AntwerpXL is wildly exciting and nerve-wrecking at the same time!
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