Without the knowledge about history, some say, one cannot understand the present, all the more predict or shape the future.
So, once upon a time, back in 2006, four consultants met to find ways to get closer to the maritime industry decision-makers - people running ports, shipping and stevedoring companies - to sell them executive-level strategic supply chain consulting, M&A support, and new business concepts, including how to expand their businesses towards Russia and China.
Putting aside the whole digital revolution and how it reshapes transport & logistics, which is by all accounts nothing but true, personal contacts are still key to striking deals in this industry. As such, we decided back then to organise a conference targeted at maritime supply chain executives. In order to stand out, we reckoned, we needed an anchor, a top-level persona to make our start-up niche gathering look distinct from other industry meetings. That seemed a daunting task at first, as pretty much everybody who carried out a cold mailing campaign can testify to, but when we reached out to Martin Saarikangas, one of the ‘hottest’ names in the Finnish shipbuilding industry (co-founder of Masa-Yards, today better known as Meyer Turku), he agreed within an hour. The conference idea ‘clicked,’ and we’ve organised a number of them since the maiden one in 2006, mixing the traditional speaker part of the agenda with excursions for the participants to real-life ‘touch’ and ‘feel’ what the presentations are about – ports, cruise ships, icebreakers, the Gulf of Finland Reporting centre, etc. Such networking makes for good ground for cultivating (and selling) consulting.
However, any concept needs to (re)develop to remain fresh, interesting, and to catch the eye again-and-again. It was our understanding that in order to grow, we needed to expand our wings internationally, so as to find a way to make SeaFocus an independent and profitable enough company for us to carry on. We decided to try something different – sponsor collaboration, shifting the language from Finnish to English, and creating a platform instead of putting all the eggs in a single event/year basket.
The new SeaFocus has been running since May 2016. We have to date produced and managed 13 different international projects – the first, an event held in Beijing, titled Arctic Maritime – while the 14th is in the pipeline. Meanwhile, other different concepts have been created: the Intelligence Hunt, the SeaFocus Annual Executive Meeting, and the currently under development for 2022 Maritime Business Intelligence Week.
by Ulla Keino, Owner and Founder, SeaFocus
Przemek Myszka, Baltic Transport Journal