People who work on transport ships are vital to global business, but they still go through many obscure hiring processes. Many lack transparency on important things like pay or even the working conditions of ships on which they will spend months. The Seafair maritime recruitment platform was created to address these issues. It monitors sailors and marine operators and uses matching algorithms to outfit crew members with the right vessels.
The company today announced that it has raised $ 5.7 million under the leadership of General Catalyst, with participation from FirstMinute Capital, Signal Ventures, TA Ventures, SV Angel, SpeedInvest and return investor FJ Labs. This brings Seafair’s total funding to around $ 7 million.
Seafair was launched at the end of last year by Agapitos Diakogiannis, who was born and raised in Greece, and its current customers include one of the 100 largest shopping companies in the world.
“Greece is one of the world’s shipping superpowers, so when I worked in consulting, I mainly focused on maritime projects. I got close to the industry and really fell in love with it.
After consulting, Diakogiannis spent time in venture capital, where he saw how labor markets disrupt industries like construction, manufacturing, oil and gas.
Diakogiannis realized he had the network to seize a significant market opportunity, but there was another reason to launch Seafair. After talking to sailors, he realized how opaque the hiring process is. Many people find it difficult to find a job even if their workforce is in high demand and they don’t know much about working conditions or pay before taking a placement.
Seafair matches workers with shipping companies based on their background, skills and performance, and uses matching algorithms to make the process of filling vacancies more efficient. It also provides vessel operators with human resource software that helps them consolidate data that would otherwise be siled into different ERP platforms and spreadsheets. Seafair is currently focusing on senior officer roles, such as chief engineers and ship captains, as these positions have the most certification and training to follow.
Shipping companies are based all over the world, but around 50% of seafarers are from Ukraine and the Philippines, so they usually rely on agencies for ship personnel. However, since agencies rely on hiring commissions to make money, they might not always be the best for openings, Diakogiannis said.
Seafair provides a digitized and more transparent version of traditional agencies (and is licensed to operate as an agency in Ukraine and the Philippines, with other countries planned).
First, sailors upload their CVs online, then Seafair performs a series of background checks and assessments online. If it decides that someone is a good candidate for a ship, the platform schedules interviews. If they are hired, Seafair starts the deployment process, including digital contracts.
The platform also checks employers and vessels under their direction before they can start using Seafair. The startup’s HR software includes tools to manage payments, insurance, schedules and hours of rest. Some of its features tailored for the marine industry include alerts on when a sailor’s certifications are about to expire and salary recommendations to help increase retention rates.
The new funding from Seafair will be used to develop more technologies for the control of mariners and expand into markets such as Germany, the Nordic countries and the United States.
In a statement, General Catalyst Managing Director Niko Bonatsos said: “The shipping industry is one of the last untapped frontiers. It takes deep industry knowledge, an ambitious vision and a determined team to be successful in a market like this, and we’ve seen all of the above at Seafair. “