Niko Polvinen is the CEO and a co-founder of Logmore, a startup based in Finland that offers condition monitoring solutions for shipments. Logmore takes a decidedly new approach to “letting packages tell their own stories,” to borrow Polvinen’s phrasing, offering logger devices that send data to the cloud using dynamic QR codes, which anyone along the supply chain can scan using an everyday smartphone.
Logmore has been in business for four years now, but the company has built considerable growth momentum over the past two years, due to the pandemic. Between the freight industry seeing more demand for supply chain analytics in the wake of the ongoing shipping crisis and the need for vigilant management of sub-zero mRNA vaccine shipments to immunize the world from Covid-19, Logmore has certainly had its hands full.
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We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Niko Polvinen: Hi! My name is Niko Polvinen, and I’m one of the three founders of Logmore. In brief, I can introduce myself as a technology enthusiast with a strong belief that we can make the world a better place with smart inventions.
Logmore is a high-tech company making it possible for sensitive products to share their stories. What this means is that, for example, perishable goods like food and pharmaceuticals are able to determine the optimal shelf life on a unit level. This alone has the potential to save hundreds of billions worth of food going to waste every year.
To make this possible we have a unique approach based on dynamic QR codes, small sensor units and software.
Looking back, 2020 and 2021 were topsy-turvy years, to say the least. What new skills and tactics have you personally, and has Logmore as an organization, adopted to help you survive and thrive?
Niko Polvinen: It has been a rollercoaster indeed. Even if, for example, remote work was something we did regularly before the pandemic, the full implementation of it definitely posed some challenges.
We’ve adopted many new ways to communicate and spread information within the team, which is true when it comes to my personal skills and to company-level tactics. When there are no face-to-face meetings or random conversations by the water cooler, it’s more important than ever to ensure that the information which team members need actually gets to the people who need it, when they need it.
This applies especially as our team has multiplied in size during Covid-19.
We’ve tried many methods and platforms, and when configured correctly, Slack can be a really good tool for this. I really encourage everyone to try and figure out the perfect channel structure and communication guidelines.
Last year there was a lot of media coverage of the shipping crisis, as logistics companies struggled to maintain the flow of merchandise around the world. To what extent is that crisis an ongoing issue in the logistics industry, and how is Logmore helping stakeholders to minimize the damage?
Niko Polvinen: The situation for shippers is far from perfect, and based on the latest reported inflation numbers, it seems that the bottlenecks won’t be alleviated in the short term.
At least as of today, it seems that the Covid-19 situation is moving towards opening up the world again, and as it’s impossible for the logistics industry to transport goods if everyone is working remotely, the opening up of more shipyards and other freight depot facilities will have a great impact on the industry.
One of the key issues has been container shipping, which has been greatly affected by a lack of resources. This, in turn, has been driving the inflation of prices, and while it’s a challenge unto itself if shipments are delayed and the costs are constantly climbing higher, it’s important to remember that the impact on the goods varies between different types of products.
At Logmore, we help companies to make sure they know exactly what has happened to their goods, so they can optimize distribution and ensure safe consumption.
What are the biggest challenges that you’re currently facing, and what are your biggest goals for 2022?
Niko Polvinen: As of today, the biggest challenge for us here at Logmore is still to keep up with the growing demand we’ve been seeing for our solutions.
Just like everyone else, we need to navigate in the current environment where lead times and prices of components are constantly changing. We are in pretty good shape, beginning with our component stock, but there’s still a lot of uncertainty in the world.
Overall, however, the hard work that our amazing team put in last year has paid off, and even under the current situation we know that we’ll be able to grow by hundreds of percentages by the end of 2022.
Towards the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, your startup developed a data logger especially made for monitoring shipments that require deep freeze temperature ranges, like vaccines. How important was this product rollout for the business trajectory of Logmore over the past two years?
Niko Polvinen: That was definitely up there among the best decisions we’ve made. We were truly able to help the world by securing the vaccines with a low cost option and simultaneously prove our capability in the most demanding niche of logistics.
We also learned a lot while making this product, while working with our customers to ensure the safety of the vaccines and all this has already enabled us to help customers in completely different environments with different types of goods.
Out of all of your proudest moments as an entrepreneur, is there a particular one that stands out the most?
Niko Polvinen: There are many different moments that come to mind, but when I got a picture of the first Covid-19 vaccine shipment we secured arriving in the destination country, that one definitely stands out.
The whole team had put so much effort into that, and we made it possible in a completely unrealistic timeline. That’s something I’ll always remember.
Much of the hype around pandemic-era logistics monitoring has focused on the ultra cold chain required for vaccine shipping and the ongoing retail supply chain crisis. But there’s also been a whole lot of change happening in the “last mile” deliveries sector, with so many people ordering meal deliveries from restaurants. Where do you see things changing in the year ahead in that space?
Niko Polvinen: Last mile is currently the most talked about part of the value chain. It’s been the most challenging, and now there are more newcomers to the market than ever before.
Thanks to the rise of digital-first delivery services like DoorDash, Uber Eats, Grubhub and Chow Now, restaurants have been able to scale their businesses and diversify fulfillment options without having to manage their own fleets. Consumers, meanwhile, have gotten used to receiving restaurant-quality meals within a few taps. But because these services are essentially acting as middlemen, using tech to connect freelance delivery people with the restaurants, there’s a quality assurance blind spot.
So yes, I do see that temperature monitoring of meals and groceries will expand quickly as it becomes easier and more affordable to do so. Given that cold food is one of the top three reasons for delivery disputes, it’s important for all of the stakeholders involved to have the ability to know what actually happened in any given situation.
In this context, condition monitoring loggers can make a big difference if they’re used in the thermal boxes into which services pack their deliveries, but getting even more granular, it may also make sense to expand measurements to the packaging of the food as well.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Niko Polvinen: Of course it would be great if there’d be a way to know upfront about emerging technologies or to always be able to make the perfect business model for each product.
Still, even if it sounds a bit dull, I’d go for a bit less of a business-focused super power and have the ability to function without sleep. That’d instantaneously add so many hours to every day, which would let me to achieve more, but to also spend more time with family and friends.
What are some of the emerging technologies that you have your eye on nowadays, which you see as having the biggest potential to disrupt the logistics industry?
Niko Polvinen: On the software side, there’s been a lot of talk about blockchain for the past five years. Additionally, artificial intelligence is something that has been in the news every now and then since the 1980s.
When it comes to blockchain, I think there’s huge potential for logistics providers to more widely adopt package journey ledgers that are integrated with smart contracts and other types of workflow automation. Today there are so many inefficiencies and redundancies when it comes to sign offs between parties and sharing data.
In logistics, there are often multiple providers involved at each segment of a shipment’s journey, and sometimes these companies even subcontract to still more services. And everyone has their own systems for tracking movements, conditions and other aspects of quality assurance. I often see shipments with multiple data loggers on them, because each logistics vendor involved feels the need to log its own condition data.
With smarter, more secure databases like those on the blockchain, we can all do our jobs more efficiently and with fewer errors and disputes.
The potential for AI in logistics is likewise enormous. With loggers being used more often in more diverse industries, there’s now a firehose of IoT data in play, and only AI is able to maximize the value of that information.
When should a company turn to which vendor to handle what deliveries? What type of freight makes the most sense to use for a given shipment? What’s the most efficient route for a ship, or a motorbike courier, to take? There are so many factors that go into questions like these that humans have limited capacity to turn the lessons of the past into actionable decision making – this is where AI truly shines.
I’ll also add that while I do see a lot of potential for both blockchain and AI as individual technologies, many of the challenges that they help with can be solved in other ways, too. For example, the amount of paperwork shipped around the world with the goods is staggering. Just by creating a globally recognized standard for electronic bills of lading (eBL) will have a bigger impact than we can imagine.
I’m sure our readers will be very thankful for the insights you have shared. What is the best book you’ve gone through lately, and please share some take away lessons from it.
Niko Polvinen: Play Bigger, by Al Ramadan. The book emphasizes the importance of creating your own category. Historically speaking, creating your own category has been the most efficient way of changing the world. Play Bigger showcases a well-performing way of achieving that.
Jerome Knyszewski, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Niko Polvinen for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Niko Polvinen or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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