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Collaboration, Creating Communities Key Differentiators: C12

Elias Gamboa - C12
Co-Founder and CEO
Home > Logistics & Mobility > View from the Top

Collaboration, Creating Communities Key Differentiators: C12

Roberto Sosa - C12
Co-Founder and Managing Director
Roberto Sosa's photo


Fernando Mares By Fernando Mares | Journalist & Industry Analyst - Fri, 09/22/2023 - 15:34

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Q: What opportunities led you to the success of C12 and what were the main challenges you faced?
EG: The opportunity we saw was to present a different kind of event with a different value proposition and, most importantly, to create a community in the logistics sector. Most event companies work for a whole year, planning a three-day event. During those three days, people have a good time but during the other 362 days, all contact and follow-up is lost. What we created is a community that is connected practically all year round, addressing the needs of our members for 365 days. We hold virtual events, monthly events and have a platform where people interact, present themselves and ask for suppliers. People no longer buy based on the price but on the experience. Today, it is not about someone being happy with your brand but about someone being willing to recommend it to another person. If you can achieve that, then you truly have a commercial opportunity. 

RS: Thinking outside the box is part of our success. It all started in Canada in 2019 when we attended a Cirque du Soleil event, which is known for creating unique experiences and different types of events, not just in the entertainment sector but also in business. When we attended that event, we felt old-fashioned because at that time, we were running traditional events. It helped us realize that we are in the midst of a generational shift where people are looking for more when attending an event. They seek business opportunities and training but also the aspect of enjoying themselves, like going to a hotel or unique places.

This experience also helped us recognize a trend in this industry, which is the “festivalization” of business events. This involves integrating activities that allow people to connect in a more human, yet professional way. 

Q: What experiences did you bring individually or together that added value to C12's structure?
RS: Elias and I have always been friends, this friendship happened in a very organic way. He was my boss for many years and I entered because of a company’s Sales Academy program. I spent a year in sales, then I moved to marketing to finally become a manager. I believe that the main aspect of this partnership is that he and I sometimes have very different viewpoints but we have a common direction. 

EG: It is a functional partnership because I have many years of experience in the industry. I evolved along with the industry and went through all the technological changes. A common aspect of the projects I was involved in those days is that we always sought to incorporate new talent. In 2015, we created the Sales Academy Roberto mentioned, aiming to incorporate young professionals who never had contact with the logistics industry and its vices.

The addition of Roberto was fantastic. He brought ideas that some people who had been working with me for 10 years never gave me. He started to notice how different events, sometimes not related to logistics, were doing things differently. In 2019, Roberto said we should start our own events company because we noticed the events from the company we worked for were stagnating. History tells us that those who change the way things are done are usually not industry leaders. Kodak did not change photography. Blockbuster did not change entertainment. It is those who saw the trend that made the change.

Q: What is the primary objective of C12 and how does it align with the logistics sector's needs?
RS: We started as a company that aimed to facilitate networking among high-level logistics users, logistics directors and transportation managers from well-known companies. Our initial emphasis was primarily on the business aspect: how to connect suppliers with purchasing companies at all our events. 

The educational component is also important for us. Initially, it was somewhat incipient; we are not an educational or training company per se, so we formed alliances with leading institutes, companies and various organizations that provide training, adding value to our events. 

While these aspects are important, our core is fostering collaboration among industry leaders. Our main objective is to build a community that fosters collaboration and synergies to transform the industry and drive innovation. Our name is C12 because we initially formed groups of 12 people for collaboration. Later on, this became more widespread but we continue to be boutique event organizers. C12’s main objective is to create innovation, encourage collaboration and transform the industry in the long run. 

EG: Our contribution to the logistics sector is organizing events from a unique perspective. We often see business models that revolve around exhibitors and sponsors but people get tired of seeing commercials. Nowadays, nobody watches TV and sits through five commercials. People prefer to pay for Netflix and enjoy good content. I think we are one of the first communities that encourage sponsors to be honest. We no longer sell sponsorship to a company without ensuring that they provide a meaningful customer experience. 

Therefore, our business model has shifted. We now focus primarily on the user, making sure that the user benefits and sees added value in joining the community, therefore we are community-oriented.  We prefer to have a cost associated with acquiring a valuable product rather than giving away something that will not work for them. 

We also add value by providing an education. But the education comes from the community itself. We can introduce a global expert from the logistics sector but that is not sufficient as the reality in other countries does not necessarily apply to the Mexican context. Therefore, we bring in global experts to inspire our community, but we also present an expert to explain how he addressed a similar issue but in the Mexican context. As a result of our approach, our attendees receive an APICS certificate with worldwide validity. 

Q: You run two main events every year. What are they and where are they conducted?
RS: We have an event in San Miguel de Allende in Guanajuato, which serves the Bajio region, including the states of Queretaro, Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosi and Guanajuato. The Bajio San Mike event will take place from Oct. 16 to 17, 2023, in a vineyard and will incorporate wine-related elements. We are organizing this event for several reasons. Firstly, it is the most prosperous region in the country right now. The northern region is also doing well but, historically, the Bajio has seen significant development and it is currently the trendiest region in the country thanks to nearshoring. Many global companies are relocating their plants to this area, resulting in a 9% GDP growth rate regionally. Furthermore, over 5,000 global companies are setting up shop here, including Chinese, Korean, Japanese and German companies. We believe that logistics needs to address this transformation and growth. This year alone, 2.5 million m² of industrial space are being constructed throughout Mexico, and this trend will continue.

EG: We also have our national event in Xcaret, which will hold its third edition next year. This will run from May 13 to 15, 2024. It brings together 500 people from the logistics community, including suppliers, users, educational institutions and various industries from all over the country. It is a national event, with participants coming from Tijuana to Merida, representing the most important industrial areas in the country. 

C12 is a network that connects professionals in the logistics and supply chain industry, emphasizing personal interactions and knowledge sharing. It offers both digital and in-person activities to facilitate connections and collaboration within the logistics sector.

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