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Globatom COO Nate Doran and CTO Alfredo Juarez.
Globatom COO Nate Doran and CTO Alfredo Juarez.

After half a decade working in logistics for Office Depot, Dan Acosta grew frustrated with long supply chain lead times. He decided to take the entrepreneurial plunge and fix what he saw as broken.

Acosta teamed up with co-founder Nate Doran, a project manager and sales operator from the investor community, and together they launched Globatom.

The Seattle startup sells software that streamlines international shipments for businesses. The platform allows customers to track their shipments, organize quotes, and analyze their international trade decisions with analytics.

“Our technology will bring transparency to an industry ill-equipped for the shipping needs of a growing world population,” said Acosta. “We are empowering the ecosystem and players with best-in-class tools to help realize its full potential.”

We caught up with Acosta for this Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature.

globatom_logo_black_blue_straightExplain what you do so our parents can understand it: “We are making importing and exporting goods simple, transparent, and efficient using great technology.”

Inspiration hit us when: “15,000 containers in, in 2010! After seeing the lack of visibility, disparate systems, thousands of spreadsheets, and high costs, we figured there has got to be a better way.”

VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “We’ll bootstrap if we have to; if a startup is in a situation where there is no funding, and it can’t bootstrap, that company is going to die. We’ll pursue angel or VC for seed investment to expand our product and accelerate growth, followed by VC for a Preferred Series A round to accelerate growth and expand market share. Making this work will require that we stay focused on our customers.”

Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “We are connecting the import-export supply chain with technology. The secret is in how we transform a very complex, fragmented, old-school process into an intuitive simple solution focused on the customer. We were born as customers, we experienced the pain as small and enterprise customers, and we are building for customers. We have worked in complex supply chain processes in the past and no good solution came out of complex systems. We are building a simple intuitive platform that tackles a complex global issue.”

The smartest move we’ve made so far: “We decided to go through Seattle’s 9Mile Labs accelerator. The resources and connections are worth the effort for a B2B business like ours. It was good to work with the team there.”

The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “Don’t let service providers drive your company. They have their own company goals. We learned this and changed this quickly. You have to have a team passionate about solving a problem, not an outsider looking for a short-term gain.”

Would you rather have Gates, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Bezos, without question. Amazon is all about delivery, so we see Amazon as the best aligned with our strategic goals in selling logistics software.”

Our favorite team-building activity is: “Problem solving. We are tackling a big issue. Many problems arise while you are building a product. The best ideas as a team came, when we stepped out, grabbed a beer and cleared our minds.”

The biggest thing we look for when hiring is: “The prospective hire is passionate about the problems we’re solving: Whether social, technical or industry.”

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Learn and understand the spirit/intent of lean startup practices — customer focus and constant iteration. Listen to your customers, team, and advisors (in that order — customer first, always). You will have to pivot multiple times. Don’t lose your focus, your vision and ultimately the passion that drove you to build your company.”

Editor’s note: GeekWire is featuring each of the companies participating in the 9Mile Labs incubator fall cohort. 

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