Shipping vessels are essential to international trade. However, they still face a lot of complicated hiring processes. Many ship workers are not transparent about their pay and working conditions. Seafair, a maritime recruitment platform, was created to address these issues. It matches crew members to the right vessels using matching algorithms.
Today, the company announced that it raised $5.7 million from General Catalyst. Participants included FirstMinute Capital and Signal Ventures as well as SpeedInvest, TA Ventures, SpeedInvest, SpeedInvest, and returning investor FJ Labs. Seafair now has a total of $7 million in funding.
Seafair was founded late last year by Agapitos Dikogiannis. He was born in Greece and is one of the top 100 shipping companies worldwide.
Greece is a superpower in shipping. I fell in love with the industry when I was working as a consultant.
Diakogiannis, after consulting, spent time in venture capital. He saw how labor markets are disrupting industries such as construction and manufacturing.
Diakogiannis recognized he had the contacts to address large market opportunities, but Seafair was more than that. He learned from seafarers how difficult the hiring process can be. Even though they are highly skilled, many people struggle to find work. They don't know much about the working conditions and payment before accepting a job.
Seafair matches shipping companies with workers based on their skills, background and performance. It also uses matching algorithms to speed up the process of filling vacant positions. Seafair also offers vessel operators human resource software, which helps consolidate data from different ERP platforms and spreadsheets. Seafair is currently focusing on senior officer positions, such as chief engineers or ship masters. These are the positions that require the most training and certification.
While shipping companies can be found all over the globe, approximately half of seafarers are from Eastern Europe or the Philippines. Therefore, they rely on agencies to staff their vessels. Diakogiannis stated that although agencies are dependent on commissions for making money, they may not always be able to provide the best candidates for job openings.
Seafair is a digitalized, more transparent version traditional agencies. It has been licensed to operate in Ukraine and the Philippines. There are plans for more countries.
Seafarers first upload their CVs online. Then, Seafair conducts background checks and assessments online. The platform will schedule interviews if it determines that the person is suitable for a vessel. Seafair begins the deployment process including digital contracts if they are hired.
Before Seafair can be used, the platform verifies that employers are registered and that vessels are under their control. The HR software for startups includes tools to manage schedules, payments, insurance, and rest hours. It also offers alerts to notify seafarers when their certifications expire and salary recommendations to increase retention.
Seafair's new funding will be used by the company to expand its technology in seafarer vetting, and also to develop more markets such as Germany, Scandinavia and the United States.
General Catalyst managing Director Niko Bonatsos stated that the maritime industry was one of the most untapped frontiers. To succeed in this market, one needs to have deep industry knowledge, an ambitious vision, and a dedicated team. We saw all of these in Seafair.