BEUMER Group has declared digitization a top priority in order to maximize customer satisfaction, while remaining competitive. The system supplier relies on the support of start-up companies to bring digital projects into the group.
Felix Ostwald and Jonas Grunwald with their company Codept GmbH belong to the so-called “Young and Wild”. Their newly developed logistic platform simplifies the data interchange between retailers and fulfillment service providers.
This saves time and money for both parties, provides more flexibility, and allows warehouse logistics operators to better use their capabilities. The idea was born out of an acute experience.
“The logistics sector clearly lacks what has long been the standard in payment transactions or online advertising: an integrative platform which offers simple access to a wide variety of different service providers and develops optimization services that are too complex for retailers and logistics providers individually”, Felix Ostwald describes their solution that will considerably simplify the connection between fulfillment providers and e-commerce retailers. The 31-year-old co-founder and managing director and his partner Jonas Grunwald, 34 years old, have founded the company Codept. But not alone. They are supported by the company builder Beam, a spin-off of BEUMER Group based in Berlin. “We try to solve big problems in logistics together with the start-up teams”, says managing director Robert Bach. “My job is to find young companies with business ideas that are relevant for us and to support them in their establishment. We want to create three start-ups per year and transform them each into a separate company under the umbrella of Beam – like the Codept GmbH.” The aim is to open new business areas in logistics together with these companies.
The simplification of application programming interfaces
“What made us come up with the idea?”, Jonas Grunwald repeats the question. “It started out of an acute experience. Fulfillment providers often lose potential customers because they lack the resources for an IT connection or because the initial costs are too high. We simplify the application programming interface of our customers’ systems considerably so that they can concentrate on their core business.”
This becomes more and more important especially considering growing internationalization. E-commerce retailers increasingly must be able to dispatch goods to France, Italy or the Netherlands. Big online sellers like Amazon or Zalando manage it within 24 to 48 hours. If a mid-sized company is not able to achieve this, it quickly loses potential customers. In order to meet this standard, the company not only needs warehouse locations in Germany but throughout Europe.
“Integrating operators into your own system landscape has so far been extremely time-consuming”, says Felix Ostwald from his own experience. If a retailer for example needs five logistic service providers for storage, packaging, dispatching or also for processing returns, they must set up five interfaces. A programmer is on duty for at least one month both on the dealer’s side and on the service provider’s side, which is both time and cost intensive.
“Our new logistic platform offers homogenous interface management as well as reliable data management”, promises Grunwald. “We take care of this connection for the customer. Our platform allows a quick and simple integration of a new partner into the customer’s system without additional efforts.”
Motivation and at least two years of experience
Not everyone is suitable to be a founder, says Robert Bach, managing director of Beam GmbH. “We require at least two years of experience – ideally in a start-up company. If you’re fresh out of college you’re probably not the best fit for us.” Felix completed his business studies with a bachelor’s degree and worked at Contorion, an e-commerce platform for industrial needs.
There, he met Jonas in 2015. At that time Felix selected the corresponding logistics providers and took care of their integration – a good basis for his future company. He graduated with a master’s degree in Global Supply Management at the Cass Business School in London and then started working at Zalando.
Afterwards he started to work at Otto Group as Supply-Chain project manager. “As part of a project, I developed a new material flow software for Otto Group in cooperation with Siemens Digital Logistics,” he describes. “But no matter where I worked, interfaces were never standardized; the integration was always a challenge.”
Jonas also has quite some experience to look back on – especially in the start-up scene. In Copenhagen, for example, he helped set up a fish import company. “In the food industry, I went through three start-up-like companies”, he says. At 24, he went back to university to study business administration and sociology.
After his bachelor’s degree he went to the London School of Economics and Political Science, an elite university, and studied economic sociology. “This was the very right place for me”, he says. He is a passionate nerd and points laughingly to his Microsoft socks. “Besides risk analysis I am interested in game theory, logic and systems theory. The road to software was then not far away.”
He first worked as project manager in a start-up company in London. Then he came to Berlin and worked for the same employer as Felix. Among other things he developed and improved logistic systems. One task for example was to automate the process and integrate the service providers.
Very early on, both colleagues felt the desire to create something of their own. “We were in Berlin in the middle of a start-up environment. If you are young and more or less dynamic, crazy ideas come up very quickly”, Felix says.
We had ants in our pants;” it was 2015. They never lost sight of each other after that. In 2018 Jonas got in touch with the company builder Beam. He had to face a video interview and convincingly show his motivation and passion.
“We spent four months looking exactly were the focus was”, says Robert Bach. “Is he making any progress? How seriously does he take his tasks and how does he manage to develop his own business model?” Jonas tells Felix about his idea and sparks his interest. In cooperation with Beam they continue to refine their idea. “We knew how complex it would be from the e-commerce side to integrate several specialized companies,” explains Felix.
The platform is ready
The new logistics platform enables the retailer to expand their business comfortably and respond to the growing internationalization. Codept (codept.de) will also enable them to access a wide range of logistics providers in the future. “If a company for example needs a warehouse in the North of Spain, we will be able to recommend a suitable partner thanks to our continuously growing experience and data”, promises Felix Ostwald.
The platform offers another important advantage to warehouse logistics operators: As it is possible to connect more than one retailer, the service provider will be able to better manage its warehouse and to react to seasonal fluctuations. Why? Particularly at Christmas and Easter e-commerce business is very strong. On the contrary, in summer consumers shop less online. Therefore the storage areas are rather full in winter and empty in summer. “So, if the operator integrates several different retailers, they can better use the space. The cycles are not always identical, bikes for example sell less in the pre-Christmas season while game consoles are sold more – in summer it’s the other way around.”
The suitable partner
“We offer young companies comprehensive intralogistics know-how and access to BEUMER experts, suppliers, and customers. We open doors and show them opportunities and challenges,” describes Beam managing director Bach. “This way new founders and talents can solve a concrete problem with us in their own limited liability company.” BEUMER Group also provides start-up financing. “For us money comes only in third place however”, says Felix Ostwald. The network is more important. But what distinguishes Beam as a partner is the people behind it, who stand out especially due to their high liability and reliability.