Anchoring in Asia: How a Hamburg Startup Accelerated Success in Introductions, Fundraising, and Expansion

Written by German Accelerator
nautilusLog Logo

Company Name:
NautilusLog GmbH

NautilusLog helps the maritime industry get rid of paper forms and to efficiently prepare for ESG compliance.



Otto Klemke, Sven Hamer

Logistics, Shipping, Marine

Founded in 2018, NautilusLog is a ShipTech company headquartered in Hamburg that solves the paperwork pains of the maritime industry. Their Smart Logbook Platform helps shipping companies achieve compliance and sustainability through automated reporting and ongoing recommendations. NautilusLog is currently used on over 3,000 vessels, operated by more than 120 shipping companies and already active in more than 30 countries worldwide.

The NautilusLog team saw that maritime shipping companies needed to be more efficient with their data as more environmental, social, and governance (ESG) policies came into force within the industry. ESG compliance often comes with complex reporting requirements that are no longer sustainable to do by hand with pen and paper.

Working together with the market, NautilusLog aims to digitally transform the maritime industry. The startup doesn’t want to remove existing stakeholders from the industry landscape but to help them digitize their offerings without having to code. This way, current service providers can still tap into their long-time experience while not being left behind by digital transformation.

Thus, NautilusLog solves maritime management headaches by connecting shipping companies with the right partner.

Portrait_Otto Klemke_NAUTILUSLOG

“It is rather an ecosystem than a platform because we are acting as a front end for other solutions on the market”

Otto Klemke | Founder and CEO of NautilusLog

Before joining German Accelerator, the NautilusLog team had already received a number of investment rounds. In 2018, the startup got pre-seed funding worth US$165,000 (€150,000) from IFB Bank in Hamburg. One year later, the team raised another pre-seed round of US$440,000 (€400,000) from TecPier, a VC investor in early-stage maritime, logistics, and supply chain tech startups. And in 2021, NautilusLog raised their seed round worth US$1.1 million (€1 million) from NBank, the development bank of Lower Saxony.

“Each time, we had to prove our potential to successfully run in the industry, and we did,” said Klemke.

The NautilusLog team had also secured one of the biggest shipping companies as a client, and they were invited by the German government to help write a new ISO standard for the industry. Over time, NautilusLog has gained the trust of major players in the maritime industry, which historically is very difficult for new entrants and startups.

Why NautilusLog Chose German Accelerator to Expand to Southeast Asia

In 2022, NautilusLog participated in two German Accelerator programs: the Southeast Asia Market Access program and the Japan Market Discovery program. After participating in the programs, the NautilusLog team decided to set up a legal entity in Singapore, since it is the biggest maritime hub in Asia and already has ships transiting to ports in Germany.

“In Asia, they are still catching up with ESG policies in the maritime industry but if they come to Germany, these laws also apply to them, so there’s a big need for compliance with German and EU policies,” said Klemke.

The NautilusLog team was drawn to the network and expertise of German Accelerator to help them embark on their international expansion into Southeast Asia.

“The programs helped us to skip years ahead in terms of the introductions we were able to secure”

Otto Klemke | Founder and CEO of NautilusLog

How German Accelerator Helped NautilusLog on Their Expansion Journey

The NautilusLog team learned a number of important lessons during their time with German Accelerator.

The first lesson was timing for international market regulations. With the team working in two different time zones – Germany and Singapore – during the program, they had to adapt their communication patterns and norms accordingly. The NautilusLog team learned that they had to be completely dedicated to the program and to the expansion in order to succeed in collaborating across time zones.

Another thing NautilusLog worked on during the German Accelerator program was developing SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) for their international expansion. This approach helped them build a better communication strategy, refresh their marketing and branding, and update other key pillars of their business.

The startup’s biggest takeaway was how cultural differences between Germany and Southeast Asia affect subsequent business decisions.

“A ten-minute in-person meeting saved a lot of paperwork. Being physically present in Asia made all the difference.”

Otto Klemke | Founder and CEO of NautilusLog

Klemke credits the startup mentors from German Accelerator for helping NautilusLog achieve so much during the program. In particular, the NautilusLog team would like to thank their lead mentor Joanna Pawluczuk who connected them around Singapore.

“Joanna was super active and always available for us,” said Klemke.

Through Pawluczuk’s introduction, the NautilusLog team was connected to the Maritime & Port Authority (MPA) of Singapore. The MPA are helping NautilusLog in their process to complete  their legal entity paperwork and are in discussions to support with an office space for the NautilusLog team at no cost for the first six months.

Klemke would also like to thank Raphael Zeller from German Accelerator in Singapore, and Dr. Günther Diekhöner in Bremen. Dr. Diekhöner mentored NautilusLog through a number of important internationalization decisions, but most importantly, he connected the team to their next investor.

“If it weren’t for the mentors, we wouldn’t have even been close to getting a new investment,” said Klemke.

What NautilusLog Achieved Post-Program & Beyond

Just as the NautilusLog team was concluding their participation in the Southeast Asia Market Access program, they were introduced by German Accelerator Mentor, Dr. Günther Diekhöner, to investors at D-Arbor Capital GmbH, which is part of the Dettmer Group, a Bremen-based family-owned company with activities in inland shipping, logistics, warehousing and trainshipment, as well as waste processing and disposal. After a couple of meetings and a short due diligence, the investors were on board to support and finance NautilusLog. Two months later, NautilusLog closed their Series A financing round for US$3 million.

“This Series A investment allows us to continue our internationalization and to more firmly establish NautilusLog in Singapore,” said Klemke. “We are already active in more than 30 countries with our solutions, but we want to be face-to-face in the market in Asia. For us, Singapore is the natural next step since it’s a maritime hub, and we’ll get to speak to our clients and partners in person and also explore the market a bit better.”

After hiring more people and firming up their office in Singapore, NautilusLog wants to continue their international expansion into the rest of Asia, starting with South Korea and Japan.

“Joining German Accelerator led us to a successful funding round in just a few months. We’re so glad we did the program.”

Otto Klemke | Founder and CEO of NautilusLog


By loading the video, you agree to YouTube's privacy policy.
Learn more

Load video