In conversation with James Swanston, Carbon Voyage CEO

James Swanston is the founder of Carbon Voyage, a startup dedicated to finding efficient transportation solutions. Prior to moving to the United Kingdom in 2007, James ran a number of small enterprises in Australia in the wine, property, and IT industries.

As well, James has served as an officer in the Australian and British Armies, including tours of duty in Malaysia, East Timor, Iraq, Falkland Islands and Afghanistan, and was awarded the United States Bronze Star Medal and the Australian Joint Operations Command Commendation for service in Iraq. James holds Bachelor degrees in Law, International Business and Modern Asian Studies, a diploma in Export Management and a Masters in International Relations and Asian Politics.

G: Tell us about your startup, Carbon Voyage

J: Transport is quite inefficient with lots of empty journeys and part loads, which creates unneeded costs, carbon, and congestion. We have built some software that can be used to book and manage transport journeys, and in doing so, find opportunities to share journeys and fill empty return loads. Over the last twelve months, we’ve been working with some fairly big organisations to build our credibility in the marketplace and also ensure that we’ve got our proposition and technology right.

G: What were the biggest obstacles in launching your company, and how did you overcome them?

J: Funding a new business is always a massive challenge. To date, we’ve been fairly fortunate to have been able to do this without any real external investment, although a point will come where we will need to consider this. As the business grows though, this challenge will remain, particularly in terms of managing cash flow.

G: What would you say has been your most memorable moment since launching Carbon Voyage?

J: I guess the most memorable thing is to see the technology when it has first been built. We’ve just finished building some new freight software that we’ve been working on for a very long time, and this is particularly exciting for us.

G: Can you give us a few ‘Do’s and Dont’s’ for setting up a new company?


  • Get your product or service out there and iterate quickly based on customer feedback
  • Look at setting up strong partnerships
  • Keep fixed costs down as much as possible, and be careful about what you spend your money on


  • Take your focus off sales and marketing
  • Let obstacles get in your way

G: Why did you choose Shoreditch in launching your startup?

J: Shoreditch is a pretty cool part of London, and it is great to have lots of other startups around you who relate to all the ups and downs of running a business and pursuing your dreams.

G: What does the ‘Silicon Roundabout’ have to do to compete with Silicon Valley?

J: We really need to ensure that the right talent can come to the UK and London to build great startups, and the Government could play an active role doing so.

G: Who/what are your favourite entrepreneurs/startups in Shoreditch?

J: I really like Moo and Tweetdeck, and there is also a great environmental business called AMEE. And of course, there are some great businesses in the Accelerator!

G: What does the future have in store for Shoreditch?

J: I hope it continues to draw in cool start-ups so that there is a vibrant community built up of start-ups form around the world. At the same time, I hope that it doesn’t completely lose the edgy, fun atmosphere that makes Shoreditch a special place. |