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INNOVATORS: TankContainerFinder.com – Persistence pays off into a #1 market position

PortandTerminal.com, July 7, 2019

TankContainerFinder.com has grown from a small tech start-up into a major player in the global tank container industry. PortandTerminal.com caught up with its co-founder and CIO Léon de Bruin recently to find out how they did it.

ROTTERDAM – After only two years since its launch, TankContainerFinder.com has become the #1 booking platform for connecting people who need tank containers to ship their bulk liquid loads to the companies who own the tank containers.

The tanker industry is highly consolidated – the top 10 tank leasing companies own 82% of the global leasing fleet.

The company recently celebrated its 1,000th customer. In the tank container world, that is a huge number.

The tanker industry is highly consolidated – the top 10 tank leasing companies own 82% of the global leasing fleet. TankContainerFinder.com has a massive first-mover advantage into a multi-billion-dollar global inefficiency.

They did it by fixing 1 problem for tank containers brilliantly.

The Container Repositioning Problem

Empty containers don’t make money. They cost money.

To make money a container needs to be full of revenue-generating cargo to move around. Each day an empty container lies idle in a port or depot, it costs the carriers a fortune in fees, handling charges and so on. Ultimately this affects the price consumers pay.

Every year, shipping lines have to spend billions of dollars on shipping empty containers full of nothing from point A to point B as they reposition their containers (ie move them to another port, depot or terminal) to places where they can be filled with revenue-generating cargo. This is called the “Container Repositioning Problem” and it’s a big one.

How big is the Container Repositioning Problem in dollar terms?

The problem is massive. $20 billion is lost over completely avoidable and company-specific container positioning imbalances each year.

Q&A with Florian Frese at Container xChange

BACKGROUND: Tank containers

There are 605,000 tank containers in the world that are used to ship everything from cooking oils to dangerous chemicals. Like the box container industry, tank containers suffer from a logistics challenge called “The Container Repositioning Problem”.

Simplistically, “The Container Repositioning Problem” means that containers are often not located where they need to be in order to make money. Companies are forced to relocate their containers from point A to point B to reposition them to where the revenue-generating cargo is located. Repositioning the containers costs money.

With box containers, there are around 200 million of them in total being moved every year with one-third of them being moved empty. For a typical carrier, repositioning costs represent 5 to 8 percent of total operating costs.

The same problem affects the tank container industry.

We know that 15 to 20% of the world’s tank containers are empty and their owners need to cooperate with other parties to be more efficient

Arthur van der Hoeven, Co-founder, TankContainerFinder.com

TankContainerFinder.com connects people who own the empty containers with the people who have revenue-generating cargos that require a tank container to move them. Think of them as the Tinder dating website for tank containers. Netflix and bill.


Co-founders Léon de Bruin (left) and Arthur van der Hoeven (right)

The company was founded in January 2017 by Léon de Bruin and Arthur van der Hoeven in Rotterdam. The business partners had been friends for many years and first discussed the idea of creating an online tank container marketplace in 2012.

Léon brought deep professional experience in developing and leading eCommerce start-ups. Arthur brought over 12 years of industry experience in the tank industry having worked in sales for a company that specialized in tank rentals and logistics. Arthur had expressed his insight and frustration with the tank rental industry, and Léon had the eCommerce experience to know how to fix it.

The only problem was their first attempt at building the solution simply didn’t work.

We worked together and launched the first demo version of the site but it failed. Looking back, it was clear that the industry was not ready for it yet.

Léon de Bruin, Co-Founder & CIO, TankContainerFinder.com

The team returned to their day-jobs but the idea remained in the back of both of their minds. After some time, it was Arthur who contacted Léon and said he thought it was time to try again with their idea. The tank container market had evolved and he felt was ready to change the way it works.

Their second attempt worked and the rest, as they say, is history.

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