What does … NautilusLog?

“How could I be sure that you’ll still exist in 2 years?”

The Hamburg-based start-up NautilusLog won the Digital Logistics Award in 2018. The award opened many doors for the young company at the domestic and international level. Founder Otto Klemke talks about an exciting year, about trust and prejudices – and a new research project that takes him back to Dortmund.

“How can I be sure that you’ll still exist in two years?” NautilusLog founder Otto Klemke had to listen to this question frequently when visiting potential customers in the past. But when he won the Digital Logistics Award at the “Zukunftskongress Logistik – 36. Dortmunder Gespräche” in September of last year, confidence in the start-up of the computer scientist increased: The fact that a top-class jury and the expert audience of a prestigious event believed in the success of the start-up convinced even the conservative shipowners, and Otto Klemke was able to secure dates and projects. His appeal today: “Grown and established companies basically have nothing to lose if they place their trust in start-ups. Initial tests or pilot projects, in particular, usually do not last for years or months, but are fast, lean and agile. Both sides can only win! By the way, Klemke has also been able to convince many people in conversations that his start-up is a family business: Both brother and father are on board with NautilusLog.

„Unfinished Products“ as a Chance

The app of NautilusLog collects all data relevant for the logbook, e.g. the positions and routes of the ship, the cargo transported, the weather and the conditions of the ship (like engines, safety equipment, etc.). All data is recorded either automatically or event-based, but always punctually and precisely, for example via the GPS system of the smartphones used. The app keeps the digital logbook, generates reports and sends an automatic message to the shipping company or captain if required. The company is still writing regulations for the legal recognition of smart logbooks. In 2020, however, Otto Klemke intends to present his app for the first time at the SSM, the world’s leading trade fair for the maritime industry in Hamburg.

Does this mean that the product is not ready yet? Otto Klemke smiles because that this is also a typical customer question for a start-up company. But a lot has also changed in recent months: “The mindset of the companies has changed in the meantime: they are good at developing the product together with us. Because they recognize the chance that it can be adapted so easily and very quickly to their individual needs.”

For research back to Dortmund

At the time of winning the award a year ago, NautilusLog consisted of four employees. Today 15 people work for the success of the app – an international team with international partnerships. Otto Klemke alone has handed out 850 Business Cards in the past twelve months and collected the same amount. Thanks to different time zones, the day often has more than 24 hours for the founder: He holds up to 27 meetings in three time zones in a playful sequence. He covered 51,000 kilometres last year – a distance that is longer than the equator. His travels took him to South Korea, Singapore or Norway – and finally back again to Dortmund.


“The day of the Digital Logistics Awards was one of the most beautiful and exciting days of my life – professionally and privately. Because I also became a father that day.”
Otto Klemke, founder of NautilusLog, Hamburg, 1st place at the Digital Logistics Award 2018


This is where the recent kick-off for the research project I2PANEMA – short for “Intelligent Internet Things-based Communication, Administration and Maintenance for Ports” – took place. One of the two consortium leaders of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research’s project is the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML, with which Otto Klemke was in constant contact via the Digital Hub Logistics. The founder of NautilusLog had already discussed the idea of the project – the networking of smart ships with smart ports – almost three years ago with the Hamburg Port Authority, today also one of the roughly a dozen project partners in Germany. Last year the project was finally given the green light and started in the summer of 2019 – with a duration of three years. Isn’t the start-up frightened by the long-term nature of the project? “No way: after all, our own solution was not developed overnight also,” says Otto Klemke. “The research project itself also addresses a side aspect of NautilusLog’s work that also has a longer-term perspective. The duration is a good fit.”

Jens Leveling from Fraunhofer IML, software architect in the I2PANEMA project, is happy to have the committed founder in the project: “NautilusLog connects two worlds with its app. We can use the know-how and experience of the start-up with technological innovations for our project”. The high internationality of the project with 25 other partners in four other European consortia offers the founder another opportunity to make new contacts.

We are curious to see how many Business Cards Otto Klemke will collect in the next twelve months and wish him much success for the launch of his app!

Photo: NautilusLog