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Twill is currently in the beta phase of development, and we have huge ambition to create the freight forwarding solution of the future together with our customers. Stay tuned on our journey to transform the freight forwarding industry.

Newsletter

By Daisy Zhang, Head of Product, Twill.

As head of product in Twill, the two biggest topics that I need to provide answers to are: What to build, and what to build first.

On one afternoon, we have our regular review on product roadmap. How do we make decisions on what Twill will look like in one year, or even in three years? We list all the ideas and ask customers!

Another time, we have different opinions about user experience design. What do we do? We put both options in mockups and ask customers!

Does it sound easy? Yes, it is easy. We just need to keep in mind that we are developing a platform to solve customers’ problems. The only way this can work is that we put aside our “arrogance” and listen to our customers.

However, it was not always so simple. I come from a background of ten years working in the logistics industry before joining Twill. You can imagine how many assumptions I have built up along the way. I thought I understood customers’ needs very well. I thought I could design a great solution on my own to address their problems.

I could not have been more wrong!  Every time I talk to customers, I find little surprises (sometimes even big surprises) that challenge my assumptions. Every time I learn something new from customers.  If I hadn’t talked to customers, we could have built a platform for my imaginary problems and my solutions. Then Twill would have had no chance to succeed.

Twill’s vision is to make shipping simple. At the end of the day, customers are the judges. They tell us if their life is easier with Twill.

Customer feedback is the strongest foundation and the most valuable asset throughout the process of how we build Twill. Twill’s value proposition stems from customer research. For every new feature-design, we run user acceptance testing. Almost every day, we receive and discuss product feedback from customers, commercial teams, and our customer care team. For every country roll-out, we conduct user research to understand how our product fits the local market.

Customer-driven product development will ensure that we are headed in the right direction, and that we are prioritizing the right features. This will address my two biggest responsibilities.

Today, my industry knowledge is no longer a wall between me and our customers. I use it as a tool to better understand what customers say, and to design the initial proposals. Of course, all the proposals need to be validated by customers.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all the customers that gave feedback to Twill. We are looking forward to hearing more from you. Let’s shape Twill together!

By Juan Cajiao, Twill Head of Growth.

On September 2nd, I was sitting in the car of a colleague in Bilbao, Spain. I missed out on taking in the beautiful scenery because I had my laptop open, doing a final check for the potential customer we were on our way to visit.

My plan for the meeting was to first show the customer how simple it is to place a booking with Twill, and second, to make sure we gained their trust to let us eventually ship their cargo from China to Spain at some point in the future. Shipping with us in the future instead became the present; the customer loved the tool and the way our people work so they immediately placed a booking in Twill!

Since then, in the period of one month, we’ve had customers from all around Spain placing bookings in Twill more than 50 times. Looking at this experience, and since we want to bring to Twill to more countries, I’ve asked myself: why is it working so well?

I’ve identified three factors that we must make sure are fulfilled when bringing a new product into a new country:

  • Sharpen your offering: Bring the product to a real customer and ask them for brutal feedback. Then, make sure you refine your offering to meet their needs. For example, we translated Twill to Spanish to make sure the customer feels confident about every step they take.
  • Tune your efforts: Make sure your team, your partners, and your suppliers share one goal and understand what is their specific contribution. In Spain, we had several conversations with different stakeholders to make sure they understood the value Twill delivers to customers and how they could contribute to make the introduction a success… and they did it! These bookings are their win.
  • Unleash your potential: Identify and remove roadblocks. You will be surprised how many roadblocks are actually ‘imaginary’ (created by you). Be like water, always flowing towards the sea. For example: In Spain we loosened up our definition of the customer target group to be able to reach all the potential customers we can actually serve.

I leave you with a short video in Spanish (with English subtitles) on our opening in Spain. You will see some views of Malaga (where besides meeting Twill customers, I also went on holidays this summer ☺).

Looking forward to Twill more countries around the World!

By Marcin Kulawik, CTO, Twill.

 

For more than 10 years I was responsible for building technical teams from scratch for several companies. All of those were great successes. Teams has been formulated (from 0 to 25 , 40, and 60 team members). All processes for the software development have been established and implemented (including CI/CD pipelines, quality assurance, cross team cooperation, software architecture standards and coding principles).

So, when I joined Twill as a Chief Technology Officer, in February 2017, one of the main tasks was replacing the team of contractors with permanent Twill-ers (software developers, QA engineers).  It would be the easiest task I could imagine. But it didn’t quite turn out that way.

What the heck happened? What made this particular one so difficult? Why was I not able to build a strong technical organization, able to support our fast-growing venture, even within 4 months???

There were certainly several major reasons. One, which I consider as the most important, was my underestimating of being put into a new environment, outside of my huge professional network in Poland. It became so clear that moving into another country (or even city) is like ripping up roots. You have to invest an incredible amount of effort to build any kind of a new network, became familiar with the working culture, but also local manners, ways of reaching out to people. You have to spend most of the time on searching, talking to people, to head hunters, simply asking everyone if they would want to help you, or simply work with you.

Sometimes, I was losing my sense of reality, trying to talk to every single person who pinged me on LinkedIn, investing my time into searching google for any sources, even those not verified but promising wonders. That was not only exhausting for me, but also put tension and unnecessary pressure on the other team members. This was a dead end.

At some point, I changed my mind and approach. I let the team focus on only selected and proven sources, focus on the prioritized openings. Learning for me is that every place is different. In some places, you use huge network of head hunters, in the other you use only one but, in yet another one you use only personal recommendations.

It was more than fortunate that I joined Twill as my first real abroad work. The management team here is extremely supportive. They are more than committed into making this venture a success, not only inside their areas of responsibilities, but also outside. Thanks to this I was introduced to several different sourcing funnels, met people who could help me and Ramona, our Head of People, to actually get candidates and finally hires.

At the same time, I also tried my known network in Poland, and thanks to this we were able to quite quickly find and attract several strong developers in Gdansk, opening a new Twill office in Poland on September 18th.

As of now, we have a very strong team of experienced professionals, able to deliver business needs, but also to redesign and rebuild the left over from the MVP (minimal viable product) stage. We also have very well thought-through organizational design implemented (I’ll talk more about this in one of the next posts).

 

 

Does it mean I’m done? No way. I will work on the next phases of this journey, building bigger tech teams, splitting responsibilities and people into more self-driven and effective teams, growing Twill tech culture, encouraging each and everyone to experiment and innovate. To really disrupt the logistics industry. Keep it simple, keep it strong, keep it Twill.

Completely Twilled

September 28, 2017

By Troels Stovring, CEO, Twill.

Twill is a start-up aiming to make shipping simple for the customer. An important quest as the current customer experience from buying freight is all but impressive. However, how is it running a company that is trying to shake up a Legacy (yes, capital ‘L’) industry? And how is it to do as a start-up owned by a large organisation? For this blog I would like to share some of my personal experiences from starting Twill and the journey we have been on so far.

In July 2016, I was sitting with a colleague (Sarah) in a small room in The Hague starting the first infant thoughts on Twill. We were about to go to Berlin for 6 months to build the foundation for Twill. Now, a bit more than a year later, I can (despite many Twill years in front of us) reflect a bit on the journey. It has been crazy! And Fun! And Exhausting! And Exhilarating! And rather often, all in one day. You have to remember, that not only were we completely in uncharted territory on the business idea, Twill was also the first spin-off company from Damco and hence double uncharted territory. We were challenged with what tech stack to choose (and how does that fit Maersk), what the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) should/should not contain, if we really can adopt fully Agile, how Twill fits in Damco and who we can work with in Damco (to mention a few). Key learning to share on such questions: You learn to make decisions based on very little data and you should be prepared to pivot and re-do. You should be prepared to embrace fast failure and ensure that the learnings are the focus. This thinking made us start a tradition called “Failure of The Week” – a tradition we now hold very dear. Every Thursday 4pm – we clock out for an hour, huddle up our bean-bags in a circle, bring out a cold beer and nominate other people (or yourself) for all the failures we have done this week – and key – what we have learned from it. In the beginning this can be quite scary (to be frank) – you know – to be nominated publicly because you screwed up. However, we got the hang of it and now it is defining for our company culture and Twillers are not afraid to lean out, experiment, innovate – and fail fast in the process.

Starting Twill from just a few people and watch it grow to its current size of 50 people (and we are still just a toddler) has been a fantastic journey. We have had some very long nights making last minute code updates, fixing urgent bugs, preparing Board material or preparing for the customer meeting the next day, however, normally we would also find time for a game of ping-pong during the night (admittedly, sometimes causing an even longer night). These nights might have been long and tough, however it was all worth it, that day we got our first booking on the Twill platform and everybody could celebrate what we had been able to pull off in a very very short time. It was one of those moments I will never forget. I was with the customer, seeing her place the booking on the platform, whilst having the whole Twill team on Skype on a separate laptop. After she pressed “Submit Booking”, we looked to the team on Skype in anxiety – and only a second later – the whole team erupted in pure celebration when they saw the booking appear in the platform – we had our first booking.

Since then many customers have chosen to join Twill and it remains my favorite part of my job to see an intrigued customer making her first booking on the platform and look at you and say: “Was that it?”. Yes, that was it – we aim for simplicity and we will work extremely hard to ensure we keep improving that simplicity (or “Simproving” as we say).

Twill is not done (note: It will never be), however I know we have a strong product that is relevant in the market. I know because our customers tell us. We also get plenty of feedback on things we could also build and bugs we should fix, don’t get me wrong – but mostly, we get really good feedback on what we have built. And this is what keeps me going everyday – it makes me proud and keeps me motivated to build an even stronger product and reach even more customers. In that way we get one step closer to our vision every day: Making Shipping simple.

Customer Care in a Startup

September 20, 2017

By Barbara Peric, Head of Operations, Twill.

After 10 years of working in a corporate environment, I decided to take the plunge and join a start-up. To be honest, joining Twill Logistics is not as brave as joining other start-ups, as we have a strong partnership with our corporate sponsor: Damco. But, the appeal of growing a company from scratch was enough to get me pumped and walk my stilettos over to the Twill Logistics office and give it a go!

After 3 months of working with our killer Twill-ers, I thought I’d reflect on how customer care life is in this start-up. I’m not going to tell you there are pros and cons…boring…
But what I will say is that creating something with our customers is better than just creating something for our customers.

What our customers want
Simplicity and to feel important. Frankly, it’s like any other relationship: Make me feel like you care about me and don’t complicate my life! It’s not different in a start-up, but how we can achieve this is pretty cool! Here’s just one example of what I mean:

During an update meeting with the customer care team (CC team), we discussed that there was congestion at one of the Chinese ports. We wanted to notify our customers about this (only if it impacts them) but didn’t want to bombard them with emails…they have enough of those! So, I reach out to our integration genius to see if there is a smarter way to keep our customers informed. A mere 2 hours later, he has a solution that can reach customers and can be implemented that same day!

It’s only a test, and maybe it doesn’t work, but from idea to implementation we’re able to move lightning fast!

Quote from customer:

“I’ve just done our first container booking on Twill :-). It was really easy and Twill team support is really fast, Alex has been very helpful. Overall fab experience :-). Thanks for showing it to us.”

-Sapphire

What our customer care teams want
Simplicity and to feel important. No, it’s not a typo. It’s the same. To be able to deliver simplicity to customers, it has to be simple for the customer care team…and we need to make sure their voices are heard. Yes, louder than my voice, and louder than even our CEO’s voice. We create our tools and processes with the actual CC team who are using them. And when the CC team suggests something new that would make their life even easier…we build that. I’m not saying we’re there yet, but in our start-up, we’re removing the red tape, the lengthy processes, and simply spending our time and energy on just making it simple. Have I said “simple” too many times? Again, not a typo.

Quote from customer care team member:

“The difference is that we give the customer more of a voice in the development of Twill. By doing so, and asking for feedback on a regular basis, we are incorporating our customer’s ideas with our own to create a platform that works for everyone, rather than just relying on our own ideas.”

-Alex Archer, Customer Care in UK

From the people who talk to our customers every day to the people who create the tech solutions, we have a direct link that ensures no bureaucracy stands in the way of a good (or bad) idea. For me, this is the fun I can have here. Trying out solutions, testing out new ideas. Some are brilliant and we celebrate. Some are downright failures and we laugh at our mistakes and work late to fix them. But all ideas get heard, and most importantly, all our customers get heard.

Twill went live to the public on April 10th!

Last week, we had three great days at Multimodal where we unveiled our new digital platform. We engaged with many interested visitors, logistics providers and journalists, and we received good feedback and ideas for further improvement.

From this week onwards, our platform is open to new customers shipping from China to UK. Currently, we offer full container load services from the origin port to the destination doorstep on the China-UK tradelane. As we continue to develop, we will add more shipping routes and more products.

Our launch has received good attention in the media. For example this article from Loadstar where Twill Stovring, Twill CEO, was interviewed and highlighted the fundamental ambition for Twill: “Our overriding endeavour is to keep the booking process of freight as simple as possible. Other media coverage include among others Global Trade Magazine and JOC.

Sign up for your first Twill shipment now if you ship from China to UK.

Twill at Multimodal

March 31, 2017

Twill is launching in the UK – and you’re invited!

To mark our public launch we are exhibiting at Multimodal 2017, the UK & Ireland’s largest premier logistics event, taking place on the 4th-6th April at the NEC in Birmingham.

Multimodal is in its tenth year and attracts decision makers from various industries, all interested in freight transport, logistics and supply chain management – making it a great place to showcase Twill’s innovative and forward-looking platform.

During the exhibition, you can visit Twill on stand 8065 where we will be promoting the launch of our platform. Why not stop by over the 3-day event to meet the Twill team? You will have the opportunity to try out our digital platform and hear about our vision for the future.

Our CEO Troels Stovring will also present his view on ‘Digital Disruption in the Freight Forwarding Industry’ – in the Logistics Theatre on the 4th April, 15:30 – 16:10. The presentation will explore the inefficiencies in current freight forwarding solutions and discuss how digitalization will shape the industry in the future.

We invite you to come and support Twill’s public launch.

Twill launches Beta

February 23, 2017

February 22nd marked an important day in Twill’s history where our first customer placed a booking on the platform. All Twillers showed their support and enthusiasm, sharing in the experience via live-streaming from the customer’s office in the UK.

Our dedicated team has worked on Twill for just 20 weeks, building a solution tailored to meet the most critical painpoints for a customer shipping goods across the globe. Today, the platform has the most necessary features, offering full container load services from the port at origin to your doorstep via the China-UK tradelane. In the future, we will open more shipping routes and add more products as we continue to develop. Throughout the development phase, we spend time with our customers each week and as a result, our platform is developed specifically to meet their needs.

In the following weeks, we have on-boarded an increasing number of existing Damco customers with a specific interest in Twill and our volumes are growing steadily. Our dedicated Customer Care teams ensure that all shipments run smoothly by closely monitoring all steps of each individual shipment. At the same time, we are getting ready for our public launch in

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