by Katharina Iyen
Among the top 100 German logistics companies, only 18.6 percent have a woman in management, according to a recent study on women in the logistics industry published on the website of the “transport logisitic” trade fair. However, the areas of activity are also interesting, as women in logistics are currently still predominantly found in traditional office jobs, such as in controlling, purchasing or in the HR department. Due to its steady growth and the increased integration of high-quality logistics services into the value chain of industry and trade, the logistics sector offers a wide range of career opportunities for men and women. Female role models play a crucial role here. They show us the possibilities that are out there in the world, they help us to define our own goals and we can learn from their experiences. In our blog series #DigiWomenKA, Katharina Iyen meets one such role model from Karlsruhe once a month to find out more about them, their experiences and their commitment. Today she talks to Larissa Eger, co-founder of the logistics start-up NeoCargo.
I meet Larissa Eger at Hoepfner Burg. NeoCargo AG is based there. I don’t find my way around the first floor straight away. A friendly young man I meet by chance in the corridor takes me straight to the office with his chip card. On site, I immediately breathe in the start-up air: a large open kitchen forms the heart of the premises. Stylish telephone boxes and photos of NeoCargo and CyberForum employees adorn the walls. Larissa and I greet each other informally and are immediately on a first-name basis. We conduct our interview at the huge table in the open kitchen, the atmosphere is down-to-earth and respectful.
The young sales director, who is currently still working on her doctoral thesis on mathematical price modeling for dynamic platforms, originates from the originally from Hildesheim near Hanover. “I didn’t know what to study at grammar school, but was talented in natural sciences and had math as an advanced course, that was my direction.” Eventually she decided to study for a Bachelor’s degree in International Business in Paderborn. “I attended courses on logistics and IT and thought the content was really cool – Many of my friends tended to do marketing or HR, we women in the Technical courses were already exotic!” she smiles. The fact that she has a doctorate, she already knew from her bachelor’s degree: “I wanted to do a doctorate. I actually already said on the first day of the Bachelor’s program – I really wanted that!”
At the semester abroad in the Swedish city of Linköping, she attended the course Entrepreneurship and found the conception of business models very interesting. inspiring. “But I didn’t think at the time that I would one day be a company,” recalls Eger. For the Master in Value Chain Management, she went to Chemnitz University of Technology and had to retrain herself. “The move from Paderborn to Chemnitz was a big step in terms of performance. demanding, the degree program included logistics, controlling and a lot of Math.”
While Bachelor’s and Master’s degree, Larissa completed numerous internships at well-known companies at home and abroad. Your expertise and technical depth are impressive me again and again during the interview. “To see how the theory plays out in the everyday life, I have done a lot of internships – that’s where often worlds apart,” she remarks. She completed a six-month training program at Bosch Internship in the USA. “The logistics are different to those in Germany, they have They have to cover completely different distances there,” explains Eger. She made a semester abroad in Australia and internships at a pharmaceutical company. medium-sized companies and BMW Regensburg. “At BMW I was allowed to use part numbers for South Africa and China. International and very complex supply chains was super exciting for me,” enthuses the co-founder.
The idea to found the company was spontaneous – and succeeded
One The doctoral student then became #DigiWomanKa rather spontaneously. She got to know Prof. Dr. Ing. Kai Furmans, Dean of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at KIT, with chair at the Institute of Materials Handling and Logistics Systems. With him she writes currently working on her dissertation: “The KIT was even more challenging for me than Chemnitz, so that’s another step up – after all, I was now at ended up in a chair of mechanical engineering,” she explains with amusement.
The She sees freedom in research and bundling in consulting in stark contrast – and loves both. At some point, one thing led to another: “While of the pandemic, we were approached by a group of medium-sized freight forwarders at KIT – with the need to digitize their processes. There was then a consulting project, with me as project manager.” During many conversations and Larissa and her co-founder Dr. Felix held workshops with the forwarding companies. Brandt the idea for the NeoCargo platform solution – Brandt is with NeoCargo responsible for technology and sales.
Eger explains: “The requirements for cross-company collaboration continue to grow – and all companies basically have the same Challenges that can only be overcome through joint digital collaboration can be solved. Corona has helped us to quickly set up many working groups. forwarding companies about your everyday life and to find solutions together. develop.” Nine working groups invested in the development of the concept just under six months. User-centered design was a key factor for the Development teams first priority. “We started right in the field, very close to the customers* and developed our platform in close exchange and many Feedback loops – always with a view to the real needs and requirements of the freight forwarders.” Originally, NeoCargo AG was supposed to be a cooperative, but this legal form was too complicated in terms of processes. slowly. However, according to Larissa, the cooperative structure has remained:
“For financing rounds and investors, a stock corporation was the right thing to do, so we will also be able to distribute dividends to our investors at some point. Nevertheless we belong to the forwarding companies. We want them to participate as much as possible in the company, because then they are fully behind it and work with us – from the inside. out – to create a sensible industry solution. “The fact that trust and Transparency is the most important thing for NeoCargo, the co-founder also emphasizes in data protection: “The data obtained belongs to the freight forwarders, nothing is resold.”
The NeoCargo networking platform
The The digital product of NeoCargo AG is an independent networking platform for medium-sized forwarding companies, which connects their IT systems in order to to be able to work together across companies. “We are an interface and platform for the digital handover of orders and provide an infrastructure for information distribution. The aim of the software is to enable cross-company structures for freight forwarders – similar to the telephone network. “NeoCargo is i.e. pure supplier of digital infrastructure, deliver all content the users themselves. Networking is essential, especially when it comes to volatility, I learn. In the event of high demand or fluctuations, freight forwarders can For example, buying additional capacity from other forwarding companies.
Eger explains to me: “With Corona, for example, that was very blatantly the case.
suddenly wanted to buy a lot more toilet paper or make his garden beautiful –
and suddenly there was no more toilet paper and no more soil because the fluctuations
supply chains were disrupted and, especially in such situations,
more loading space is required due to cooperation with other forwarding companies. Exactly
This is where we come in.”
With the Neo-Cargo solution, freight forwarders can send orders to fulfill their serve customers more flexibly. Already existing in companies Transport Management Systems (TMS) are connected to the platform by NeoCargo. connected.
Clear vision for the future
“Smaller Haulage companies often don’t even have TMS systems,” Larissa explains. “Our The vision is to create a web interface for them as well, so that they too can can become part of the solution. “The future of NeoCargo sees the Sales Director in the overall coverage of order status. She explains: “We want to create the infrastructure to be able to connect everything in the surrounding area, regardless of whether warehouse, sea terminal or air flight, for example. I see us more in Europe – and then internationally hand in hand with solutions from other continents, interlinked, a large, open system.” Sustainability lies also very close to the young founder’s heart, especially the optimization of Supply Chains. “Digitalization doesn’t stop at the national border or at home. companies – all players are in demand and must work together.” Within of forwarding companies, she still sees a lot of room for optimization: “There’s everything from Entrepreneurs who still use the fax machine, all the way to those who digitize evaluations, i.e. receive a message from their TMS when, for example For example, tire treads are worn and need to be replaced.”
The Logistics expert wants a uniform digital standard for everyone Freight forwarders: “This is the only way we can network everything together. The necessity most people already see this, sometimes traditional corporate culture or Fear of change still stands in the way – which is understandable. We at NeoCargo are only a few months on the market – and others 30 years, so it’s easy for the counterpart sometimes difficult to understand why we deliver a good solution can.”
More diverse specialists for the industry
For Larissa Eger would like to see many more qualified and diverse employees at NeoCargo. applicants in order to have a balanced team: “Getting skilled workers is difficult – we finally have a developer,” says Larissa and adds: “For me, diversity also means that we have all ages, nationalities and orientations with us and welcome no one exclude.”
I would like to know from the Head of Sales why there are still too few women in IT git. IT, logistics and forwarding in combination is, according to her, very male dominated. This is also evident for the Hildesheim native during her sales work: “When I write mail merge letters, my Standard address always ‘Dear Mr. …’. The two women, who also get a letter, I change it by hand.” She adds with a laugh: “But Somehow that’s also good for me – because everyone in the industry remembers my name. I’m an exotic simply because I’m female!” Larissa’s I like her sense of humor, she is aware of her expertise and lets obstacles don’t upset them. I take her as a woman with bite, intelligence and humor, who sees hurdles as a feasible challenge – The entrepreneurial spirit.
The co-founder is committed to the visibility of women
To Larissa Eger appreciates the events organized by KIT for founders in Karlsruhe: “At the moment I am part of a fishbowl discussion organized by “Das Partizipations.Kit“. Women in the IT must be visible so that others can successfully gain a foothold in the field can. Especially when they are still in the discovery phase of their possible decision and threaten to drop out because they can’t find role models.” Also enjoy the networking and information events of the CyberForum Karlsruhe Larissa. She would like to see a network offering specifically for female founders in the IT industry – she has not yet been able to find one in the region. “Cool would be to have a touch point with more experienced people and also students. I Unfortunately, I don’t know any IT founders in the Karlsruhe area yet.” About Larissa would be happy to receive tips on relevant networks.