Ryan Petersen talks about his entrepreneurial journey; the changes behind the scenes at Flexport; and what we can expect from them and the industry in 2024.

396: Take A Peek Behind The Curtain, with Flexport

Today I’m joined by Flexport, a leading tech brand that is on a mission to make global trade easy for everyone.

Flexport is the platform for global logistics. The platform simplifies global trade by connecting everyone in the supply chain. Developed to help you ship to and from anywhere, track everything, collaborate with everyone, and accelerate performance and growth for your entire supply chain, Flexport is setting a new standard for global trade.

Today Ryan Petersen, CEO of Flexport, joins me to talk all about his entrepreneurial journey; the changes happening behind the scenes at Flexport and what they’ve learned; how ongoing issues on the Red Sea are impacting supply chain; and what we can expect from Flexport, and from the industry, in 2024.

Guest bio:

Ryan Petersen is the Founder and CEO of Flexport, a leader in global supply chain technology. In 2022, companies of all sizes – from emerging brands to Fortune 500s – used Flexport technology to move more than $26 billion of merchandise. Prior to starting Flexport, Ryan was the founder and CEO of ImportGenius, a premier provider of transaction data for the global trade industry. He earned a BA from UC Berkeley and an MBA from Columbia Business School.

 

IN THIS EPISODE WE DISCUSS:

 

[06.30] Ryan’s incredible founder journey, and the ‘why’ behind building Flexport.

“The freight forwarding industry was very opaque… they speak in all these code words and there’s all this mystery, it’s hard to figure out what’s happening with your freight, what the market rates are, what the different fees are… businesses were hard to work with.”

[09.17] How Ryan sold logistics tech as an investment opportunity, bringing interest to the industry and raising over $2 billion worth of investment for Flexport to date.

[11.27] The role of the press in the ups and downs of Flexport’s history; Ryan’s approach to publicity; and his proactive approach to using marketing to bring transparency to the industry.

“What we did, very intentionally, was build a brand around thought-leadership… there was this wide-open opportunity to do marketing as education, to shine a light into this black box of global trade and logistics.”

[14.47] From acquisitions to internal re-structuring, a closer look at the big changes that have happened behind the scenes at Flexport over the last year.

“I’ve come back in and re-oriented the whole company around our culture of engaging with customers, quality, and profitability.”

[18.21] Why Flexport acquired Shopify Logistics, and how it fits into Ryan’s vision for the future – particularly when it comes to growth and data.

“We want to be a one-stop shop… buy it one place, ship it anywhere in the world by any mode – and make it super easy.”

“Supply chain has a data problem. You need the data to flow parallel to the goods.”

[25.45] The reason for the recent staff layoffs at Flexport, and why Ryan isn’t interested in bad press.

“The press celebrates us when we’re doing well, makes us famous and puts me on the cover of Forbes – but when things aren’t going so well, it’s human nature to attack… it doesn’t matter to us at all.”

“Frankly we deserve some of that criticism. We hired too many people and we let people go – it’s embarrassing.”

[27.54] Why Flexport acquired technology from Convoy, and exactly how that technology will enhance Flexport’s offering.

[33.52] From ongoing disruption on the Red Sea to sustainability issues, what we can expect from the industry in 2024 and how it’s impacting business.

“Between the Panama Canal and threats of a port strike, I think you’re going to see more people wanting to move cargo into the West Coast… which will probably increase rail and truck demand.”

[41.33] How Flexport is successfully utilizing different forms of AI; why that success has been a decade in the making; and how Ryan plans to use AI in the future.

“When we break problems down into small, bite-size chunks – AI can solve those problems.”

[51.51] Flexport’s plans for 2024 with Ryan back in the role of CEO.

“Growth doesn’t come from wanting growth, employing more sales people, sending more emails, making more phone calls. Growth comes from having higher quality.”

 

RESOURCES AND LINKS MENTIONED:

 

Head over to Flexport’s website now to find out more and discover how they could help you too. You can also connect with Flexport and keep up to date with the latest over on LinkedIn, Facebook or X (Twitter) or you can connect with Ryan on LinkedIn or X (Twitter).

If you enjoyed this episode and want to hear more about Flexport, check out 338: Set a New Standard for Global Trade, with Flexport or 320: Going Inside The Mind of Anthony Miller.

Check out our other podcasts HERE.

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