Alfonso de los Ríos
Founder & CEO
Startup Contributor

Save Your Time for Activities that Create Value

By Alfonso de los Ríos | Mon, 08/24/2020 - 14:29

If you break your workday into small blocks, how many of these do you use for repetitive and time-consuming activities, like filling forms and collecting information for reports? Sometimes, we waste hours by keeping doing things the way we are used to, but with some thought and a single-time effort, we can automate those processes.

Programing is a great tool to do this. By running a piece of code, a computer can do manual activities for you in seconds. If you know nothing about coding, its format can be intimidating; but you may already do some of this by using formulas or macros on spreadsheets.

Thanks to the Internet, programing gets easier every day. I learned to do so when I was 11 years old, by replicating code available online. Today, you can follow online tutorials, take Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), watch step-by-step videos, or subscribe to apps. Each of these can help you to solve problems or learn from scratch. If you get stuck, tech online communities tend to be very supportive.

I like to learn by starting projects and testing many solutions by trial and error. First, I made online games and published them on Facebook and Miniclip. Thinking about someone from a remote city playing them made me feel proud. Then, I developed small programs targeted at companies, including restaurant management software and a carwash app.

When I was 17, I knew my next step should be to learn from experts in the tech industry. I applied to 40 different businesses in California, unaware I could work there as a Mexican. A few answered back and, after some interviews, I started an internship at a startup partnered with one of the biggest tech companies in the USA.

The internship program allowed me to work at different departments, learning up-close about their processes and work culture. I got mentorship from the greatest minds in artificial intelligence, search engines, and digital operations. A year later, they offered me a job as a senior full-stack engineer, leading a big project.

With this experience, I felt ready to create a company from scratch. Maximiliano Casal, an engineer from Uruguay with his skills working at big tech projects, was living in California at the same time. As we got to know each other, we complemented each other's straights. Max excels at engineering processes, landing ideas, and finding development openings.

We found an opportunity by thinking about my family business. My parents had a traditional freight forwarder, a third-party logistics (3PL) provider who helped move air, maritime, and land cargo through the world. Each freight involves many steps, documents, and organizations, leaving tons of written data that could be miswritten or lost in transit.

With this idea, we developed and launched nowports: a digital freight forwarder that optimizes logistics with technology. Every client that ships with us have access to our online platform, with features such as tracking, real-time alerts, automatic reports, digital documents, market trends, and centralized communication with custom agents and providers across the world.

We give a customer-centered service, interacting with our users to explore their pains and design customized logistic solutions. Some of our customers love technology, while others are more used to traditional ways. Our goal is to empower every logistics team with better information for decision making and save time with less manual activities.

According to McKinsey, venture capitalists have recently invested around $28 billion in logistics startups. Most of these go to last-mile efforts and freight platforms. The last one can leverage inefficiencies in the supply chain with better data management, using technology.

Nowports is the first digital freight forwarder in Latin America. In other words, we focus many of our efforts on developing efficient systems based on technology such as online documents, interpretations of the market, and dynamic routes. We have active offices in Mexico, Chile, Colombia, and Uruguay, with 100+ employees working at tech, logistic solutions, customer success, sales, and more.

We were one of the few Latin American companies accepted at Y Combinator, one of the biggest international accelerators, which helped previously with the growth of Airbnb and Dropbox. There, we learned about strategic planning, continuous improvement, customer growth, and team building.

Every industry has its opportunities to leverage work. To find something that fits you, I suggest working at established companies, talking to your teammates about their constant pains, research available technologies, and design customized solutions. It feels great to help faraway companies using your creativity and a personal computer.

Photo by:   Alfonso de los Ríos