Follow Friday: International Women’s Networking Group Rotterdam

One of my biggest reservations about moving abroad was how difficult it would be to meet people.

First of all, as a freelancer, I’m not interacting with many people (if anyone) on a daily basis. I may occasionally meet with clients, but as it stands now, most of my work is remote.

And second, even if I do happen to leave my house, most of the people I interact with are Dutch. Don’t get me wrong – the Dutch are lovely. But I don’t speak Dutch, and even though they speak English, sometimes it’s nice to speak with people who have similar experiences.

International Women’s Networking Group Rotterdam

Like most people, I turned to Facebook to find people I may have something in common with. The International Women’s Networking Group Rotterdam was one of the first I found.

As I mentioned in my previous post about Vierde Vrijdag and Susanne Pieterse, networking can be nerve-wracking. It’s not easy to walk into a room full of people you don’t know but seem to already know each other.

Meeting the women of this group was different, primarily because the first time I met them was at a café, and every person that attended the event seemed to awkwardly approach the table and say

“Is this the International Women’s Networking Group?”

As a result, the conversation would break in order to welcome the newcomer and conduct a round of introductions, and then conversation would continue with this additional person.

And that’s how almost every event has been: anywhere between 6-10 women will attend a lunch or dinner to socialize and network. It’s been such a pleasure to meet women who work in different industries than I do, and to learn about their experiences moving from their home countries to Rotterdam.

Recently, we shared our stories about doctors and hospitals in the Netherlands, and we found that our experiences – good and bad – were not unique to just our individual selves. We all agreed that doctor visits are much easier in our native languages, but we’ve all accepted the inconvenience as part of living abroad.

There are also Dutch members who, in addition to being great company, help us navigate cultural customs, correct our pronunciations, and broaden their own horizons in our interactions.

I’m extremely thankful for this group of women who motivate me not just to leave my apartment, but to push the possibilities of friendship and professional opportunities.

Starting the New Year with a Strong, Driven Network of Women

As much as I praise my personal experience, making the decision to attend an event can be difficult for many people. Beyond simply collecting business cards, people want meaningful connections in all aspects of their lives.

At the end of January 2019, the International Women’s Networking Group Rotterdam is hosting an event at Progress Bar to help women network in order to achieve growth. Unlike other networking events, we hope to learn as much as possible about our attendees before they arrive in order to jump-start their networking process.

click on the image above to visit the Facebook event, or purchase your ticket here

We will provide a low-key ice-breaker activity to help attendees start conversations with each other, with the goal of establishing at least one meaningful connection.

There will also be speakers covering topics such as personal branding and capitalizing on the “A-ha!” moment. There will also be a chance to win goodie bags. And, of course, beverages and snacks will be provided to help ease every introvert into this social situation.

And on top of all that, guests have this unique opportunity to see what Progress Bar offers as a co-working space. Unlike others in the city, Progress Bar’s intimate space encourages members to interact, as well as enjoy meals or coffee together (at no additional cost). Their mission is to promote progress, and they believe that interaction with like-minded people outside of your normal circles is key to success.

I highly recommend you join us, not just because I want this to be a successful event, but because I believe we can all benefit from meeting new people (but in this case, women).


Are you looking for a strong, independent woman to get shit done? Let’s talk!

Follow Friday: Token Coffee

Around the time I wrote about BlueCity, I also listened to the Food Heroes Podcast about Wize Monkey, a company making tea from coffee leaves.

Because the bean harvest is only three months long, the majority of the industry’s labor does not have steady work for the remainder of the year. By making a product from the coffee leaves, farmers have steadier work, which means more income, which means growing prosperity with rippling effects.

As the third most-consumed beverage in the world, Wize Monkey is just one of the many businesses starting to take responsibility for the coffee supply chain. In fact, some companies are even using blockchain technology to create a radically transparent product.

Token Coffee and FairChain Foundation

More than just a certification and a label, FairChain Foundation provides visibility not just to the businesses involved in the supply chain, but also the consumer. In this way, everyone can be held accountable (as discussed in my article explaining blockchain and logistics).

Token Coffee was born from a partnership among FairChain Foundation, Moyee Coffee (who also works with Rotterzwam at BlueCity), and Bext360, which bolsters sustainable practices and ethical supply chains using technology. Together, they created a solution to the coffee industry’s questionable practice of fair trade.

FairChain’s objective is “all about sharing the value created in production chains fairly.” And coffee, with layers of unfairness building on top of each other, is a great place to start.

So how does blockchain make coffee consumption better?

It starts when you visit their website. We’re all used to being prompted to sign up for newsletters, but pay attention: Token Coffee asks you to be a CEO. By purchasing Token Coffee, you become a custodian of the company. You agree to be part of this blockchain, and to contribute to the radical transparency of this supply chain.

And as a result of this radical transparency, no one in the supply chain can double-back on their commitment without everyone else knowing it. They admit that they haven’t quite yet reached their goal of a 50/50 split in value – they’re only at 32/68.

But as more people make the commitment to buy Token Coffee, they will continue to close the gap between what consumers pay and what farmers earn.

Final Thoughts

Currently they are focusing efforts on developing coffee farms in Ethiopia, where 25% of the population depends on the coffee trade for a living.

As of November 2018, Token no longer has any bags left for sale, but you can still sign up to be notified of the next opportunity to invest.

What makes this more radical than any other blockchain endeavor is that the whole business is about shedding light on the entire industry. Efforts have been made to move carrots, almonds, and lettuce using blockchain technology, but Moyee, FairChain, and Bext360 have made the choice to build Token entirely around the need for visibility.


Do you like how I talk nerdy? Let’s get coffee!

Follow Friday: Shypple

I’ve written extensively lately about blockchain, and for good reason.

What if you are ready to digitize your freight and logistics needs, but aren’t ready to invest in this newly explored frontier?

Digital Shipping Solutions

Our lives have been transformed by convenient technology, from hailing a cab to having razors delivered monthly to our doorstep. And with so many options within a service industry, comparing prices has also become significantly easier.

But that technology only recently came to the logistics industry. Why?

Shypple: Booking.com for Freight and Shipping Solutions

You’re tired of keeping track of all the papers on your desk or in your file cabinet. In can be days before you have all the information you need to make a final decision about how you will move your product from point A to point B. And once your product is in transit, it takes multiple emails and phone calls to pinpoint its location.

As I learned at Intermodal Europe 2018, lack of visibility is a concern for everyone in the supply chain, yet the industry has not widely embraced solutions to this problem.

Shypple addresses these issues and more.

It’s been touted as the “Booking.com for sea freight,” and rightfully so. If users are already familiar with the concept, why not apply the model to your own industry, especially one as layered as logistics?

In response to the ancient methods of the freight industry, Shypple founder Jarell Habets started Shypple to make transportation easier. With so many options and providers in the market, this dashboard allows users to compare quotes, consolidate documents, and track shipments from one application.

Furthermore, Shypple offers financing options, insurance, and customs management. It offers the whole freight package from start to finish!

When I read about Shypple, I was surprised to learn that no service like this existed for logistics. A digital platform for planning every branch of a shipment’s journey seems like an obvious need. (Again, how is there such a lack of visibility?) But as I have come to learn, the industry has not been quick to evolve.

How does Shypple improve the shipping industry?

With Shypple, customers can make responsible, fully informed decisions in less time, saving their companies valuable resources. But how does it pressure the logistics industry to change?

On one hand, this type of ranked comparison makes it easier for customers to choose the cheapest – but not necessarily highest quality – option. This may further encourage the “race to the bottom,” which is something that many agree is not good for the industry.

On the other hand, it may pressure the supply chain to improve in other ways in order to be competitive. How does your company fair when compared side-by-side to your competitors in a platform that allows customers to book in one click? What do you have to offer customers other than a low price?

Final Thoughts

I’m still an advocate for blockchain technology in the logistics industry. Those who had the resources to invest in trials and research should absolutely do so.

But Shypple solves a different problem for users on the supply chain. Shypple is for the one who initiates the chain but the last link on the line. It makes building the chain simpler and more visible. And the industry could use more visibility.


Need someone to write about your business and services? Drop me a line!

Intermodal Europe 2018: What I Learned

I learned about Intermodal Europe 2018 while scrolling through my LinkedIn newsfeed. It was two days way – I knew I had to register!

I was only able to make it to one of three days of the conference, but I thoroughly enjoyed the the panels I attended. As someone who doesn’t currently work in the industry but wants to serve the industry, it was quite enlightening.

Intermodal Europe 2018 Review

Change Is Coming to the Logistics Industry (or at least it should be)

I constantly heard that one of the main factors slowing progress is the resistance to technology and change.

Today, we can download an app to hail a cab and watch it approach our location, while also turning the heat on before we arrive and ordering food to be delivered to our home. In contrast, logistics companies can’t tell a customer where their shipment is or how it disappeared.

One speaker noted that one of the highlights of last year’s conference was a type of tracker that goes inside the shipping container. That was 2017.

Why hasn’t the industry progressed? Why does the supply chain seem to encounter the same problems it did 100 years ago?

The resistance to technology is not just a change of inertia – it’s also a fear of job losses. People are constantly afraid that artificial intelligence will replace them, rather than approaching it as a tool.

And this resistance to technology has ripple effects. The Women in Logistics panel highlighted not only the absence of women in the industry, but the absence of any interest from the upcoming workforce. Logistics and supply chain has not proven itself to be a forward-thinking industry compared to other fields currently embracing the unknown technological frontier.

While there is some innovation is coming from within the industry, other fields are also developing solutions for the inefficiencies of logistics.

Digital Platforms: Baby Steps into the 21st Century

I still find it shocking that the logistics industry hasn’t, as a whole, made the shift to digital platforms. How does anyone trust that their items will get from point A to B? How is anyone held accountable? How do companies stay competitive if they don’t have a user-friendly interface or website? Who has the time?

Companies like FreightBro offer great solutions for customers and freight forwarders to reduce their paper use, communication delays, and time spent connecting the dots. By centralizing all their freight operations in one application, companies and customers  waste less time searching for solutions and create a better workflow.

But while digital platforms may help streamline administration, they do not address all the challenges facing the logistics industry.

Blockchain: Take the Plunge

Another universal sentiment seemed to be the need for collaboration. No one functions alone as part of the supply chain.

Dr. Rolf Neise echoed an idea that the Blocklab white paper also suggested: players in the logistics industry need to specialize or focus on what they do best.

Being really good at administrative tasks isn’t enough. Shouldn’t everyone be able to file paperwork correctly and communicate efficiently? By specializing in a field or aspect of the supply chain, a company can secure its position in the industry and prove its value as a partner.

Nico Wauters from T-Mining, Tom van Dijk from CGI, and Clinton Senkow from ShipChain were all passionate advocates for using blockchain to improve the supply chain. By implementing its technology, companies can shift their focus from “fire fighting” to providing premium customer service.

Currently, blockchain trials are being conducted in small, private networks. If (and when) the technology takes off and becomes commonplace in the industry, transactions and payments will be visible to everyone on the blockchain.

Building Trust within the Logistics Industry

Change isn’t easy for everyone. Blockchain is not only a change in a company’s workflow, but also its mindset. You have to trust others in the industry that they will make good choices, too.

Van Dijk said that blockchain is disruptive by creating a layer of trust between points on the supply chain. It seems like such a strange definition of “disruption,” but with the lack of visibility in the industry – another universal complaint – it’s easy to see how that trust between partners is not easily earned.

Sharing is Caring

As part of trust-building, some people call for data sharing. It feels risky – why would anyone want their competitors to know how well they move product?

Currently, everyone operates based on the information they are given and the data they produce. This, however, is an incomplete picture of the supply chain.

Thomas Bibette demonstrated how DCBrain is helping companies put their own data to practical use. But with more data available, new trends may reveal themselves, which may lead to better solutions, which may lead to less churn for you.

Without sharing data, it will be increasingly difficult to pin-point issues in the industry so that everyone can improve. Remember: no one functions alone in the supply chain. (At least, if you don’t want giants like Amazon and Alibaba putting you out of business.)

How to Get Decision Makers on Board

It’s the million-dollar question. From what I saw, it seems that many leaders in the industry are focused on making today’s sale, or on the number of shipping containers lost last week. It’s hard to plan for the future when there’s a fire that needs to be put out today.

As step one of his value-based 5-step method, van Dijk suggests starting with creating awareness among key stakeholders before experimenting and creating a pilot.

But how do we create awareness that will change the mindset of this ancient industry?

Maybe start with a few examples of how blockchain has proven its positive impact on the supply chain. The ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam have shown interest in it. Companies like Walmart have experimented with shipping lettuce using the technology, and IBM and Maersk developed a blockchain partnership:

Through better visibility and more efficient means of communicating, some supply chain participants estimate they could reduce the steps taken to answer basic operational questions such as “where is my container” from 10 steps and five people to, with TradeLens, one step and one person.

One step with one person. The efficiency is almost unimaginable. Why would your company want to be left behind in this technological advancement?

These, however, are industry powerhouses. They have the resources to invest in this type of research and experimentation. The blockchain infrastructure doesn’t fully exist yet – it is still only comprised of private networks.

But even so, ShipChain is running pilot programs with Perdue and CaseStack, and has had its work recognized in the DHL white paper on blockchain and logistics. While these names, again, are heavy hitters, the growing investment and interest in the technology cannot be ignored.

As Senkow said, this is just the “dial-up” stage of blockchain. It has so much potential and there’s no denying that it will be here to stay.

Final Thoughts

At the moment, it seems that offering services at the lowest cost is everyone’s priority. With giants like Amazon and Walmart offering free shipping, it’s no wonder people expect low costs, regardless of quality of service.

But that just can’t be the case.

At the moment, clients may be willing to pay a low price for the risk of the item getting lost. But if you could guarantee that their product could be tracked all the way from point A to B with your stellar customer service, wouldn’t that be worth the risk of investment?

And, as I mentioned before, the future of logistics is also dependent on the type of talent that the industry attracts. Don’t you want the best and the brightest? Because as the logistics industry strands, it’s not looking very attractive.

Logistics is the backbone of the global economy. Why isn’t it a leader in advancement?


Interested in nerding out about supply chain logistics? Talk to me!