Spotting Ecommerce Trends in Shipping Data - Laura Behrens Wu | Transcription
Transcription for the video titled "Spotting Ecommerce Trends in Shipping Data - Laura Behrens Wu".
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How about we just start with a quick intro? Cool. Yeah, thanks for having me. My name is Laura. I run a company called Shipo. We power shipping for e-commerce. What that means is we connect our customers who are e-commerce stores, platforms and marketplaces to a network of different shipping providers. And then we help them figure out which provider to use for which one of their packages. The reason why people care about shipping today is that shipping directly affects conversion rates. So it's no longer just a means to an end to get your item from A to B e-commerce stores. They need it to be able to convert their customers because customers are expecting free and fast shipping. Amazon Prime has taught them that. And whenever they see shipping rates at checkout that are unexpected or too high, they drop off and they go to Amazon to try to find the same things. Okay.
Understanding And Competing In The E-Commerce And Shipping Industry
How does a customer interact with Shippo? (00:42)
And so how does your customer interact with Shipo exactly? Yeah. So it's an API. It's a restful API that they can integrate. Either they integrate the API or they use the dashboard that we've built on top of the API. Both works. If you integrate the API, there's more flexibility. You can do more with that. SMBs that are just getting started that don't have developers in house, they typically just use the out of the box dashboard solution. Okay. And so what's a normal customer of yours like? What do they make? What do they sell? So a normal customer of ours, they're an e-commerce store that's, they sell products that are differentiated. They have their own brand. They don't want to sell their products on Amazon. They want to own their own brand experience, sell through their own e-commerce store and ship typically either out of their own workshops or their own warehouse, a 3PL that takes care of shipping for them. Okay. And so what's a 3PL for people who are not part of the game? A third party logistics provider. Okay. And did you know anything about this stuff before 2013 when you guys started? I did not. Yeah, like I would never have imagined that I now know all of these things. It, yeah, it's been crazy. I started this as like a complete logistics nope and I got into e-commerce by pure chance when trying to build an e-commerce store on the site together with my co-founder Simon. We built an e-commerce store using Shopify. It was a really easy solution and it was just a fun thing to do on the site. And then when we tried to integrate or connect with different shipping providers, we realized that the technology experience provided by shipping providers was just so different compared to the technology experience provided by Shopify or Stripe. Like we, the shipping providers aren't tech companies. So their API documentations aren't as great and intuitive. You have to be a logistics expert to be able to read the documentations. Sometimes you have to request API access or it's a soap API. It's just strange to us that everything's been solved except for the shipping component and it is a frustrating experience. So we were like, why is there nothing comparable to Twilio or Stripe in the shipping industry? Let's give that a try. And were there other like kind of critical understandings that you didn't quite get in the beginning that now are like obvious as in rural to running a shipping company? Yes. So we were learning on the job. I mean, we didn't know anything about shipping back then and we tried to solve shipping from the customer perspective. And I think that was a good perspective to have. So we weren't influenced by the restrictions coming from a shipping industry. We're able to look at it from the perspective of this is how an e-commerce store wants it to be and this is what modern technology looks like. Let's build it like that. I would say like we back then I'd say underestimated just how different the different shipping providers are. There is no standard across different shipping providers. Not in terms of pricing, not in terms of technology. They're all totally different and building that layer of abstraction on top was harder than expected. But that's now also a great competitive advantage to have.
Who is Shippo competing against? (04:07)
Okay. Because who are your competitors right now? So there are a couple of incumbents out there like Stamps and Disha Pitney-Boes. And then there is another company in the space called EasyPost. We would consider them our main competitors or the most comparable companies out there. Okay.
What is free shipping? (04:23)
Got you. So as I was listening to a bunch of the podcast interviews you've done before, I've heard you talk about many of the same things because it's obvious that you want to talk about shipping and you're excited about it. I'm super excited about it. One of the questions I wanted to start off with then is where do you passionate about that you don't get asked about a lot? That's a great question. So I think what I would like to do more of is traveling, running and reading. There is not that much to say about all these things for yourself. Like okay, wait. When I go travel, I think leaving the valley, as soon as I leave the valley, I'm able to see or look at things from a different perspective. I'm not in the nitty gritty details anymore. I don't really care about how it's being done operationally. I can think about the big picture and come back with great ideas. And then also just look at how people like last year travel to a wedding in the UK. And there was no cell reception in like that little village where the wedding was. People were still living there. They didn't care. Like people were living in the village without an cell reception. It helps me realize how things here in the valley are just not, they're not normal. And they are maybe solving the problem for a small amount of the population, but that's not how everyone thinks out there. Yeah. And we for sure want to build solutions that are for more people than just people living in the valley. Yeah, because you guys are, I mean, if you're selling to small businesses, right, that are like trying to differentiate themselves and not going Amazon, how do you reach out to them if they're not necessarily even that technical? Yeah.
How do you sell shipping? (06:03)
And I'd say like small businesses is one area that we're selling into. We're also selling into platforms and marketplaces. And then anyone who wants to compete with Amazon, it can also be a bigger business. One of our customers, for instance, is eBay. That's on the marketplace side. But we've learned that it's really hard to sell someone a shipping solution if they're not looking. Like it's not something that other people are passionate about, right? So we typically, it's more an inside sales process. And people are looking when something is wrong, something's broken, too expensive. Shipping is vital enough that they do pretty thorough research and then they will find us at some point. And when they find us, we want to capture them at their intent and make sure that they're finding what they want to find. So like having the right keywords, having the right landing pages and just handing them exactly what they're looking for. But we like it's, it's really difficult to get someone excited about shipping when it's not a need. Okay, so before we started, you were talking about people, you know, like basically connecting all these things together now.
The rise of Internet entrepreneurship (06:58)
What are your thoughts on that? I mean, you said it wasn't a fully formed idea. Yeah. But like, yeah, what do you think? No, what I was thinking is like it's easier than ever today to build your e-commerce to online. You don't have to be a developer. There is less upfront cost because you don't need to invest into a physical retail location. Everything's online. You get Shopify, you get Stripe, you get like Ship O maybe or another shipping provider. Like Facebook ads, everything is out there. You just connect it together. And then like you don't have to build your own infrastructure anymore. All you have to do is find or make a product that is differentiated enough so that it's not like out there on Amazon or somewhere else where people can undercut you in terms of price. And then you need to build an emotional connection with your customer. I think e-commerce today is a lot about storytelling. It's about making sure that customers connect with you and develop some sort of feeling or attachment for you. And then you use the channels like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat if you're like a millennial or Gen Z whatever those generations are called. Like use the right channels to reach your audience and you tell a personal story to them. And then people are proud to wear, I don't know, all birds or to travel with their, it's called always. Is it whatever that like luggage thing is called? Okay. Yeah. And it seems like, oh, and then there's the unboxing experience.
Importance of building an emotional attachment to your product (08:27)
Like every part from when you ship the item to when the customer receives it, like every step is carefully coordinated. You get the box, you unbox it. People film themselves unboxing it. And it's a huge hit on YouTube or you, um, packages, packaging is being designed to look pretty on Instagram so that people can take pictures and share it with their followers. So that was, that was just my thought, how infrastructure is, um, how people don't need to invest in infra, in building their own infrastructure anymore. It's available out of the box and how today e-commerce is all about like getting your customers to feel something for you, to feel attached to your product. Yeah. And I think you're, we're seeing a lot of companies, both, you know, YC, like venture backed and not venture backed companies that are really crushing it. Is there anyone out there that you think is doing it particularly well? You mentioned all birds and the, the luggage thing. Maybe someone who's less well known that maybe even your customer that's doing it really well that you can like, you can point to a reason why they're successful. Yeah. So I think glossier is pretty well known as well. Um, do you, should I talk about glossier or something less well known? I think they're good. Glossier, yeah. Yeah. Glossier is just a makeup company and I think, and I, I know her story, Emily's story, just from reading about it, I think she started as a blogger just creating a great following with unique content online. And then when she had that following and people were like looking at her as an authority in the beauty blogging space, she was able to launch her own beauty line and that like on Instagram, the pictures are, are beautiful. It's all, it's, I think it's the product, the packaging looks like it's designed for Instagram. When I get the box, you open it, there are stickers in there. There's a little pouch in there. So stuff that I didn't order that she's giving me for free and I'm excited about it. And I see people posting about it. And on Instagram, people are engaging with the blog, with, with the posts in the comments. And she gives out referral codes. So people keep talking about and refer their customers, uh, their friends, I mean. And then, um, they also, oh, they re-block or re-regram. Yeah, I'm not, I'm not up to date with all these like fancy terms, but they re-gram. If I post a picture of gloss here, they will, and it gets a lot of likes, they might re-gram it on their, um, professional side. So I am incentivized to like post some things so that I can get more followers if they re-gram it. But it's, I think they're doing a phenomenal job just making sure that their followers are being engaged on the right channels. The channels that they're active on. And um, that it's not that corporate. Like it does not, when I look at their, their site, I don't get a corporate feeling. I get the feeling that it's a girlfriend telling me about makeup. So it's working. Like you're in the demographic and it's working on you. Oh, and the other thing is like, you can't find it on Amazon. You can't find it anywhere else except for on their side. And that's the great part. Like if you sell a product that is too generic, um, someone else can sell it on Amazon and it's easily a replaceable or interchangeable. And then Amazon has some like, you have Amazon Prime so you save on shipping. It's convenient and you just get everything on there. Mm.
Brands who refuse to sell on Amazon (11:55)
Is anyone, I'm trying to think of a good example of someone doing well on Amazon and outside of it. Like I don't see a lot of that. Mm. And it gets something like a brands. I, what I'm seeing or what I hear from friends who run e-commerce stores is they have tried Amazon as a channel, but it's basically just cannibalizing themselves. And it's not, they prefer to keep their own brands or to be able to manage their own brands on their own websites to have, to create that experience, to create the feeling and the, the loyalty. Yeah. Yeah. That's probably a good point because I like, they don't give you a lot of analytics around discovery. I actually, I wrote a book about, um, shipping containers with my friends. Oh, really? Yeah. Yeah. We did a, we did a Kickstarter a couple of years ago and Amazon's been, I mean, we were immediately like on there afterward because we, we spent the like the extra Kickstarter money buying more books. Yes. Um, and so it's been super easy to sell and I don't really know like if we would have captured fewer sales because we weren't on Amazon. Um, because that discovery wise, like I think it has like, you know, less than 10 reviews. So I don't feel like we're getting sales that way. Interesting. Yeah. I see, I see what you're saying. So if it's like, if you're selling something on Amazon, what you, the customer will also see other products that are comparable, which means that customers might get directed to your competitors' products. And if it's not something that's like heavily reviewed, there is no incentive for the customer to buy your product versus another product that's been on Amazon for longer that has more reviews. That's interesting. Yeah. I, I think Amazon is great for generic purchases, but it's really like, you don't see Amazon making funny jokes on Twitter as a corporate account. Like you don't see anyone tagging Amazon in their Instagram posts. It's just that people in their free time don't enjoy, like it's not a brand that people think about or talk about. This does generic, convenient and pragmatic thing, but it's not this emotional thing. At least I'm not attached to.
Will Amazon take over the mealkit industry? (14:01)
Do you think that like Amazon will like completely like take over all of these prepackaged meal kits now? Oh, is that a thing that's actually brand differentiated or not? So yesterday I saw one of my friends post on Twitter that normally he would never like make this peach based sauce for dinner, but because Blue Apron sent him a kit with peaches in there and a recipe for like whatever peach dish he was making it and he was loving it. That's why he loves Blue Apron because it gets him out of like just cooking the same thing every day and cooking something special in the same amount of time. I don't know if Amazon, if like Blue Apron is differentiated enough, but it seems like people get a homey feel from using Blue Apron products. I don't know. I mean, look at all the copycats, right? Yes. Like they're in every vertical. Yes. So I mean, maybe they're just two different markets in this. So like personally I am way too pragmatic. I just get my groceries. I cook what my mom taught me to cook. Okay. So you might be there. So I might be the wrong target audience here. Okay. Oh, but wait, funny story. Like Blue Apron, when they sent you stuff and it's like one egg in a packaging and the egg is labeled egg and I'm like, I know this is an egg. Well, it's interesting.
Tackling Amazon boxes. (15:34)
I don't know. Well, it's stupid. It does make you feel a little gross when you're like, I think Trader Joe's for me at least is like the worst of them, you know, like everything's in a little plastic bag. And so I moved into apartment a couple of years ago and I had bought so much from Amazon that I was taking out the recycling that day and I actually felt nauseous. Like as I was breaking down all these Amazon boxes. But talking about recycling, the other trend that I'm seeing in e-commerce is peer to peer selling. That seems to be on the rise again. People selling out of their own closets. If we look at, I don't know, Poshmark, Vinted, Macari, eBay, whatever those are called or even Facebook marketplace, like worst stuff, especially it seems like young women and mothers selling like used items and getting a lot of fun out of that. Plus having the personal connection with a seller. So like selling out of their own closets, telling the story about when they bought this item, modeling this item themselves. Yeah, it's funny. And then you like they put a handwritten card in there. That's an interesting set. So that is becoming more popular. Yes. We have a lot of those on our platform, like using ship ownership for their second-hand marketplace is and that's a fast growing segment. I think it's still a very small segment and overall e-commerce of course. But it's a growing one. What about all those like box of the month clothes? Are those still a thing? Yeah. I mean, there's a box for everything. Yeah. You can get, well you name it, everything. I was surprised at just loot crate for instance is a big one that we're just looking at and it's a gamer specific box. And then there are like sex toy boxes, like really everything. Anyway, I think it's the convenience and as soon as you subscribe to something, it is hard to unsubscribe. That's the other component there. So and then people like to be surprised. Like if you're already paying for it, it's like you give them your credit card number once and then you forget that it's a recurring payment and then you're just getting the box everyone making you so happy of that adrenaline and happiness and dwarf and rush.
Box of the month subcriptions (17:38)
Oh and then get one for your dog and your cat as well. Yeah. It's crazy. Yeah. I think a lot of those people are like infamously known for you know like you can sign up online and then you have to call in to cancel. It's like that kind of stuff. Are those on the rise though? Oh sorry. And then you're they're giving you the first box for free but you have to give them your credit card number and then they try to automatically afterwards. Yeah. Classic. Yeah. So if you're on the rise still it feels like something that was on the rise two or three years ago and now it's like dabbling but it's not I don't see it going away but I'm also seeing that some of these box companies they're also in addition to the to the monthly box thing they're they're selling having an e-commerce store where you can buy these items one off. Okay.
Shipping fidget spinners, vape pens (18:32)
Then are you noticing any other trends because now I'm just realizing that like by being at the hub of all this you kind of like see what businesses are like taking off. So we saw all of these segues being shipped like last year. Wait segues are hoverboards. No hoverboards. Yeah sorry segues. Same thing for me. Yes the hoverboards we saw them being shipped and then the USPS or the shipping providers actually had an extra regulation for hoverboards not allowing them to be shipped anymore because they were dangerous and explosive. We also saw like a huge rise in vape companies signing up that seemed to be a thing. Then there was this couple months where people loved sending each other just like like joke items. There was this when you when you open the package it's like glitter coming out. That was you guys. You were related to the other guys. We weren't selling them we were just shipping them. Yeah. Okay. So that was big or like you've even had poop in a box. I know if it was real poop. We just see the name signing up and then get a kick. Right. We don't really care. And then that was that was a very smart idea just financially like having a message on a potato. It was like I think ten dollars to get a potato shipped and the potato would have your message written on top of it. But we had multiple of these stories. So it's not in a box. It's not in a box. It has like a label stuck on it. And you guys do that just like random size whatever. Whatever. I mean we're so we're just providing the technology to print those shipping labels. They tell us size and weight and tune from address and you get a label. Whatever you want to ship as long as it's like within the legal realm we give you the label you ship it. It's fine. Have you guys gotten a bunch of money for the in the fidget spinner game? Are you involved? I think the fidget spinners are too small to make us money. Because you can put them in a letter. We want to ship something that is 3D.
Medical marijuana (20:40)
What about medical marijuana? Has that been a trend at all? I think that is more like the on demand delivery. So we have a couple of stores on our site that ship like accessories for that. I think one of them is actually why I see affiliated called billo B. They're pretty big like the nasty gal for vaping. And other than like we ship the accessories but I don't think mariana is allowed to be shipped even in California. Yeah. I think like there's on demand for that. Okay. On demand delivery. I was just wondering if that if that trend was going like if folks are lobbying now to like get it like to get it within state.
Shipping Operations And Entrepreneurial Mindset
Favorite shipping fact (21:21)
Oh here's my favorite shipping fact. Out of some like past days it's still legal to ship an alligator with the USPS as long as it's smaller than 20 inches. Okay. Alive. Alive. Yeah. Yes. Baby alligator. Really? Yes. How do you package an alligator? I have no idea. It's not our problem. We give you the shipping label for the alligator. It doesn't matter. Yeah. And like are you liable for anything? Like if what is your problem? So it's in our in our terms of services what you're allowed to ship and what you're not allowed to ship. And as long as you stick to the terms and services we're fine. You're fine. But our agreements with the shipping providers also are clear that we're not liable for the things that our customers ship. So every customer is recognized as a separate customer with the shipping providers. But it's our job to make sure that our customers know what the terms and services are provided by the shipping provider. And so the alligator is on there? The alligator is on your website. Maybe in the fine prince. Okay. No the alligator. It's part of the USPS terms and services, the official ones that the alligator can be shipped as long as it does not exceed 20 inches. Okay. That's good. I'm wondering what if it's growing while it's being shipped. It depends where it's being shipped. Yeah, it's like 19 and a half inches and it takes like five days. I don't know if that's alligator's grow. Probably not that best. Maybe it gets lost though. That's really funny. What about all these other companies like I want to ship my bike from Colorado to California. Are these companies like doing it on their own? Are they just setting up like basically just this front page and then they just ship with you? They're just like all these like basically SEO targeted shipping. You know, it's like ship your bike, ship your camera or whatever. There are two aspects to that question. Like if you ship something let's say from Colorado to California, I bet there are shipping providers that are like that are focused on shipping from Colorado. So for instance here in San Francisco in California, regional shipping providers called OnTrack. On the other coast side, a regional shipping provider is called LaserShip. Then there is another one called GSO that's here. So for each region there are shipping providers that are specialized on that particular region. And then there are also shipping providers focused on certain segments. In wine country we have a lot of shipping providers that are just focused on shipping wine. And by having them on our platform we're also allowing our customers to discover shipping providers that they wouldn't discover otherwise because it's such a niche product. It's not only about the discovery, it's also yes we're shipping a couple like we're having wine as one of our segments but would that e-commerce store really want to go through the trouble of integrating a specialized wine shipping provider? And if we already have it then they just need to enable it and like are able to save money there. Your question about whether like there are shipping providers that are specific for bikes, I think everything that's less than I think it was 71 pounds, the normal shipping providers can ship and then there are other shipping providers that are focused on less than truck load and stuff. But it's likely that these items, these SEO pages are just giving the traffic to normal shipping providers. Oh okay, yeah man I got burned with that too shipping car tires. I'm a total sucker for this. Well next time you can just ask me. Yeah, yeah. More car tires that you can just ship. Do you deal with insurance too? Yeah we do. We have insurance on top of Chippo. Oh and the other thing that is quite interesting about shipping is the tracking component. So because like shipping affects conversion rates it decreases car abandonment if you have the right shipping options or the right shipping costs. But then after you ship your item out it doesn't stop there like customers are wondering what is happening to their item along the way so they want to be engaged with tracking numbers, you want to be proactive about that versus having customers write in because if someone writes in you need a live person to like respond to that. If you just send them push notifications with our webhooks or with the webhooks about package husband ship, package arrived at this facility, package will get to your house today.
Shipping options (25:40)
Like customers are going to think about your product whenever they get a notification like that and then if you send them like suggestions about what else they could buy in your store in the same email it can get them back to your website. Do you advise people on like best policies for handling returns because I often find that like all of these companies feel like it's their duty to like innovate on new ways to like have you send things back to them and it's the worst. So that's another thing that consumers like take into account before they make a purchasing decision. They want to know if returns are possible and if like return shipping is free. So I guess it's there are two perspectives to this. From the end customer perspective it would be best practice to put a shipping label right into the box and that shipping label most likely will like we provide scan based return labels that means unless it's being scanned the merchant is not going to get charged for it. So you can print a shipping label free of charge and when it scans we will charge you for it.
But from the merchant perspective you want to make the returns more difficult so that people are less likely to return their item because once you return it you need to figure out what to do with that returned inventory. Yeah so there are these two different perspectives that are clashing. I would say to make it right like what I do admire about Amazon is whenever something is not right they will give you a free item they will give you free returns and that's made me very happy in the past and I would just recommend e-commerce stores to do the same unless they're seeing abuse of that on their website. Okay yeah I think yeah the most famous one is REI I guess like people were buying things off eBay from like 15 years ago and turning it to REI. Oh yes yes exactly I mean if you're giving people an opportunity to like cheat the system they likely will cheat the system. Okay so you can make it like a little bit difficult to people are using it. But it also like you can also see if you're acquiring or converting the type of customers that are going to abuse the system you're likely converting the wrong type of customers right. You maybe are going after the wrong target audience.
Target audience (28:15)
Meaning like just too broad or just off. Just too broad off or maybe you're having the wrong messaging on your website that is attractive to customers who are more likely to cheat the system. Okay got you. So you guys are now like what four years old? Three and a half. Three and a half years old and you're like 60. 65ish people yeah. 65 people.
How are you feeling (28:43)
How are you feeling like you know. Insane. It's really unbelievable. I can't believe it. We think we got super lucky that we found a space that is fast growing shipping is like tied to e-commerce growth. It's still very inefficient the technologies aren't great there. There is not that much competition. So it's easy to innovate in that space and to write on the e-commerce growth wave. And then just in terms of people I'm just walking to the office and there are so many people there. I need to pinch myself but it's great. Working with my having the right partner has been super helpful. Like someone who's a partner in crime who can or like we don't commit any crimes. Who's been working with me through this for the last three and a half years. And then of course having the right supporters on the investor side as well. Who can help me figure things out. We're also able to hire a more senior leadership team last year to put the operational experience in place. Yeah. So then what are you working on personally like improving?
So I am always trying to improve to be like working on how to be a better manager. Me and my co-founder we got an executive coach a year and a half ago. I don't know working with the coach that's been phenomenal. Like understanding how to manage people, how to motivate people, how to give feedback in a constructive way. It's all about communication. That's the main learning from growing the team. Like communicating how right? Because everyone will say that right. Be empathetic and be nice and listen to people and all that stuff. I would say the umbrella term for that is you need to be effective in your communication. And it really like depending on what that person's like. I don't like straight forward communication. I don't like a shit sandwich. Some people. And that's effective with me. But then with other people you might need to be. I don't know. Like less, like more empathetic in your communication.
Communication And Women In Business
And understanding how to communicate to whom and then remaining authentic and being able to be comfortable with that. That's like that's something I'm trying to learn and improve on all the time. The authenticity is the other important part. Like I want to know or I've been trying to figure out what my personal leadership style is. How I'm most comfortable communicating and who I want to be. And then be absolutely unapologetic that this is who I am and I will walk the extra mile to this extent. But I can't work with just everyone. You need to. Yeah. It needs to work on both ends. And so then when you're hiring executives, managers, do you kind of like divide teams based on how they take input from each other? Or you're just like, hey, you're not very good at dealing with people who can't handle this direct communication. So I've been, okay, so I think what worked for me very well is to be very proactive about telling people this is how I communicate.
How you communicate (32:06)
And setting the expectation right that this is just how I communicate. It's not you, it's me. And I like, yeah, making sure that they know that I communicate like that to everyone. And one of my flaws is for instance that I call out that I don't celebrate wins that much. I'm always like looking at the next milestone and I'm quick to criticize, but I'm not quick to praise. And that is, that can be demotivating if people think it's them. So what I'm trying to tell people is like, this is my flaw and I recognize it. And if you're not getting enough praise, please do let me know because it's not your fault. It's my fault. And then I don't want to put that weight entirely on me. I'm hoping that the senior leaders in my company can meet me halfway and help me with achieving my goal of like praising people more as well. So when I'm like not doing it, let me know and I will change. But please like speak up and let me know. And so then like this, this comes out by having conversations with a coach or do you like journal this when you're like, Oh, here's what I'm struggling with. What do you do? It comes out like the coach observes how I talk with my co-founder. We go to the other. Oh, they like hang out and like Simon and I, we go together to the coach. Okay. So we sit on that couch together. It's like couples therapy, but it's for co-founders. And then I think like I am fairly self aware about like my shortcomings as well. And then I get that feedback from the leaders. We have 360 reviews and then we bring in those reviews to the coach to discuss. Okay. And having, yeah. The most important part is that people shouldn't be afraid about speaking up or like bringing in like what they think could be improved and then making sure that they understand it's being heard. And either that I say, like either that I acknowledge that this is a shortcoming and that I want to act on it or that I acknowledge that this is happening, but I can't act on it because it would be an authentic for me to do. Inauthentic and like that's not something that's not how you would address that problem. Like I'm not sure what you mean. Oh, like if it's just, if it doesn't work with my personality and I need to change just fundamentally who I am to be able to like act on that feedback, I guess it would be. I just don't want to pretend to be someone else at work every single day. Does that make sense?
It makes sense. I just wonder like what, what is something that you would be like? I'm trying to think of a good example that doesn't sound hyperbolic is like, oh, I can't be nice to that person because I hate them. And this is inauthentic to me. No, no, no. Because let me think about it. It's like on a, to stick with that, that example about praise. So I've been trying to hire people who are complimentary to me who are like more, you know, who, who, who, whom it comes more natural to praise people who have a more celebratory nature. And then with that, they're able to balance me out. And we have people like that in the company. And then instead of me having to like always pop the champagne bottle, which would feel so awkward to me. I have someone else do it, but I stand there, I clap and I'm approving this.
Do you read books (35:35)
Okay. You just like nod nicely. Exactly. Do you, do you read books or any of that stuff? Has that been like inspiring for you? Yeah. The favorite book that I just read a couple of months ago was Shudok by the Nike founder. Okay. That was, I mean, it wasn't written by him. It was a biography about the, the founder. Oh, cool. Okay. I have to say that. Yes. It's the best part about it was, or like what, what inspired me the most was like back then when he founded the company, communication wasn't like it was, there was no cloud, no internet, like communication was as in cronus. He had to write an email, write a letter to his manufacturer in Japan and would take like three weeks to get there. And he was sitting like back in, I think it was in Oregon or somewhere where he was based. And just wait for a response for like an entire month. And it was mission critical. And it took them a month to get a response. Yeah. It's a very interesting like looking at it from a perspective of building a startup in a pre-internet time. Who are the other people that have inspired you? I am, so I'm German originally.
I'm quite inspired by Markle as well. She's a tough leader. Is that why? Like, yeah. I'd say like she has her principles that she sticks to. And then she's able to, yeah, she just does not compromise on her own principles. And then the other thing that I admire about her is like she does not conform to the stereotypes of how a female leader should be like. She works, she does not need to, she doesn't feel like she needs to smile a lot or like put on a lot of makeup or look anything like what the stereotype should be. And she's very comfortable and authentic with that. Yeah. Do you enjoy talking about the female founder stuff? Or do you?
Female founder stuff (37:34)
Yes and no. So like, I think I would like it more to be just a conversation about like being the best founder or being a very good founder versus being a very good female founder because in the end the market really doesn't care if you're a female founder or not. The market cares about your product.
Advice For Startups And Women Founders
Advise for Female Founders & People in B2B Startups (37:46)
Like I could, we could offer the best female founded shipping company. If there is a better like male founded shipping company we're not going to make it right. It doesn't matter. Yeah. Yes. So that's the one side. And then I think I would love the conversation to be more about like to be a little bit more about female accomplishments as well versus just being about the downsides of women in tech because there are a lot of great female accomplishments to point out and they sometimes get under in these like stories that are mostly harassment related. These stories need to be told. Don't get me wrong. They should be told. People should be like held accountable for that. People should know what's happening out there. But then I would love to balance the conversation out as well with like and by encouraging to encourage other women to join the industry like there are good stories that are happening as well. Yeah. I think it kind of like scares certain people from even joining conversation. Exactly. Oh, it's always negative. I'm never going to comment. Yeah. Totally. Yeah. Cool. All right. So we've been here for like 45 minutes now. So what do you advice for people like who are just getting started? Like maybe even yeah, like B2B like less like sexy startup stuff. Yeah. So I love the like less sexy space. Yeah. Because you're solving a real pain point. They're like more in the background. It's not sexy. At parties, people aren't excited about my shipping stories. They're like shut up Lauren. But still it's mission critical to every business. Yeah. And I just love building something that you know, is solving a real pain point that is a must have, not a nice to have. And then you can actually charge for that as well. Every customer that we have on ship owes a paying customer. There is no free trial because it's shipping. There is no free trial to shipping. And the lock in effect there is very strong as well. So I would say like for for founders just getting started, like look at solving problems that are real problems that people can't live without where there is an inefficiency that's either causing people to spend too much time, too much money right now. And then any type of infrastructure business, I'm like a big fan of that. On the more general side, I would say for us, like at the very beginning, like now logistics and the shipping space is becoming more interesting to investors at the very beginning, people weren't interested in the logistics space. And it's just a lot of like staying remaining persistent and then not giving up, like always tweaking the pitch, making sure that you know that after every no, you figure out another way to pitch it and find the next investor to pitch it to. I think we wouldn't be here if we if we if we weren't that persistent.
It's about remaining persistent, but about the right things. Like sometimes you need to know when to give up, but you need to be flexible about like how you pitch things and who you pitch it to. Did you have any like kind of mental models you were using to figure out what was important? Because you I think you I mean it's the more important thing is building the company. Like the raising money is kind of like, like, tangential to some extent. Oh yeah, if you can build a company without raising money. Yeah, no, it's also like, it's a business like, yeah, everything doesn't have to be a startup. But how did you figure out what was the important stuff to focus on? At the very beginning, it was mostly customer feedback. Like we were able to develop a bigger vision a little later in the process when we had the money to be able to sit down and take a step back and develop a bigger vision. At the beginning was like, this is the main pain point that our customers are facing and we want to solve this pain point for our customers. And we need to build X to solve it. And for that, we need to raise X amount of money. And then we placed it in a bigger context, like, why is shipping important in the e-commerce context? So we were able to tell that story about the size of the market, the growth of the market, the growth of e-commerce to investors to give them like the big picture as well of it's a fast growing space. There is a problem. Customers are liking what we've built. And by the way, this is what we've built. And this is what we see the opportunity to be like in the big picture. And this is how fast we're growing. Okay, cool. Well, then I think my last question is a favorite place to go running in San Francisco. Oh, okay.
Favorite running location (42:20)
So I normally run in Golden Gate Park from 11 lower hates or from lower hate into Golden Gate Park. And then if possible, I do like running at Chrissy Fields as well, but it's more of a drive. Yeah, more of it. Okay. Are you training for anything? No, that's the one thing I do for fun and for fun only. If I like, yeah, if I sign up for a marathon or something like that, I would get into this competitive thing. Cool. All right, perfect. Cool. All right. Thanks for coming in. Thank you. Yeah.