Flexport is an innovative player taking the world of freight forwarding by storm. The key to their success: a matchless software platform combined with infrastructure and expertise. Their European ambition is to double in size twice over the next two years. The Head of Customs will develop the customs business line for the European market.
Flexport is one of Business Insider’s Top 51 enterprise startups to place your bets on in 2018. They’ve earned this moniker by reinventing global trade. They move freight globally by air, ocean, rail, and truck while giving clients total transparency, efficiency, and control across their supply chain. This multinational scale-up has offices and warehouses in the USA, Europe, and Asia. In 2018, they shipped to over 100 countries around the world, servicing thousands of clients. In 2018, the company did close to half a billion USD in sales, and it aims to continue this growth path in the coming years.
“Say goodbye to the black box of freight forwarding. Only Flexport delivers deep visibility and control, low and predictable supply chain costs, with faster and more reliable transit times.”
Disrupting a fragmented market
Freight is a highly fragmented global market with a multitude of players. On their way from a factory in China to a warehouse in Utrecht, goods will typically be handled by at least nine different stakeholders. And each will have their own software for processing data. This relay race of goods and data is a highly complex process to manage. Hence, many commercial parties choose to outsource it to a freight forwarder. In other words, a freight forwarder is a travel agency for freight.
Traditional freight forwarders work with as many data systems as they have shipping partners. They manage the transition of data between the different systems manually. Often, there is no central data system. Clients who want insights in the supply chain of their goods need to pay for this, as it requires extra man-hours. The fact that data is managed by hand is also a limiting factor for the scalability of the business model: doubling in revenues means doubling in headcount. Furthermore, the need to increase the efficiency of staff also leaves little room for close ties with the customers.
Flexport does things completely differently. They have one powerful tech platform for clients and all their suppliers. From booking, communication, customs, and collaboration to reporting, analytics, and more, this cloud software platform put everything in one place. The system improves the efficiency and accuracy of deliveries. An additional benefit is that clients automatically gain access to all of their supply chain data. And last but not least: it empowers the client facing teams to focus on customer satisfaction.
“It’s a skills-driven industry, and we have a software-driven solution. The better our software gets, the easier it gets to scale. That’s why we can consolidate this global market, and our competitors can’t.” – Jan van Casteren, Vice President Europe, Flexport
About the vacancy: Head of Customs
The Head of Customs takes charge of all European customs processes, playing a crucial role in optimizing international fulfillment processes as well as delivering a valuable data product. It’s a highly entrepreneurial role, building a business which will fill a huge gap in a global market.
Goods that are imported from outside the EU must be declared to Customs in the country of arrival. International customs procedures have about 80% in common with one another, but the remaining 20% is localized and forms a huge complication for global companies. Big multinationals may work with hundreds of customs brokers around the world. There is no one-shop-stop for a worldwide customs service. This is a gap in the market Flexport intends to fill. They’re going to build a customs network with global coverage offering a seamless customer experience anywhere in the world. That’s where the Head of Customs comes in.
The plan of attack
Flexport currently has local customs teams for the Netherlands and the UK. Because of the efficiency of these team, deliveries to these countries run smoothly. The Head of Customs will develop a scalable plan to develop this service across Europe. This includes taking build/buy/partner decisions, finding the right partners and onboarding them onto the Flexport platform. In addition, the Head of Customs will assume final responsibility for the daily execution of the customs teams.
In close cooperation with the commercial teams, the Head of Customs will also develop the right propositions to attract new business. Potential business models include selling the service on top of freight services, or as a standalone product.
This role will report into Christian Vizcaino Jordan, VP Customs at Flexport, based in the US, with a dotted line into Jan van Casteren, VP Europe at Flexport, based in Amsterdam. The Head of Customs will cooperate closely with the Head of Customs in the US, who has developed a working prototype for the American market. The Head of Customs will also work together with the newly appointed Customs Compliance Director, who has decades of experience with European customs to rely on. The Head of Customs will be able to identify business needs and brief the technology development team accordingly.
- Minimum 8 years’ experience with consulting and/or building highly scalable businesses
- Strategic thinking
- Business acumen
- Leadership experience and skills
- Entrepreneurial mindset
- Freight forwarding or customs experience is not required, but profound curiosity on this topic and ability to learn quickly is essential