This post is part of our Shippo Leadership Interview Series where members of our leadership team will both share perspectives and provide a peek into the current happenings at Shippo. This time out, we chat with Shippo President and Co-Founder, Simon Kreuz.
As co-founder and president of Shippo, Simon prefers to lead outside of the limelight—opting to roll up his sleeves and let the great work of the team speak for itself. Having been on the front lines of Shippo since the beginning, Simon is our go-to guy for obscure product and partnership knowledge. Plus, he’s got the best war stories and industry tidbits.
Simon has graciously agreed to be in the spotlight today, to help prospective Shippos better understand the company and culture he’s helped to build. If Simon had it his way, he’d have this conversation one-on-one over a beer (from Germany, of course!). So, if it’s five o’clock in your neck of the woods, you may just want to pop a cold one and pull up a chair as we dive in.
Hi, Simon. Thanks for joining us today to kick off the Shippo Leadership Q&A Series! Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you founded Shippo.
I’m one of the two Shippo founders. I was born and raised in Germany and went to business school in Switzerland, where I met my co-founder Laura Behrens Wu. As a side project, Laura and I were running an e-commerce store. Setting up the store, getting the first few orders, and accepting payments was really easy. Within a few days, we had dozens of orders waiting to be shipped. However, we had no idea how to import our products in bulk from South Africa, where they were produced, and fulfill and ship them within Europe. Shipping our products was so complicated. That’s why we started Shippo: to help e-commerce businesses ship better.
How did Shippo get its name?
As you know, hippos are herd animals. They protect other Shippos that live and work with them. But they’re also one of the most dangerous animals alive. When needed, the hippo can hunt or deliver packages both in water and on land. With that in mind, our naming choice was pretty clear.
Shippo’s vision is to “bridge the distance between businesses and their customers.” What does this mean to you?
The e-commerce shipping industry is at an inflection point. For the longest time, shipping was a backroom operation and a cost center. Recently, however, Amazon and other retailers have demonstrated that shipping helps merchants stand out in the market. We all buy from Amazon because shipping is free, fast, reliable, and customer friendly. With Shippo, our mission is to help all other merchants, those small and mid-sized businesses who don’t have Amazon’s scale, to successfully grow their business through shipping. We want to help everyone create a world-class shipping experience for their customers.
At the end of the day, the magical moment of e-commerce is when the buyer receives the package, opens the box, and finally gets the product they have waited for. Shippo powers this moment for e-commerce merchants.
What is Shippo’s approach to product development?
Since Day 1, one of our core values at Shippo has been to put customers first. This is important not just in principle. More concretely, our customers don’t have the time or expertise to completely figure out shipping on their own. Hence, we believe that it’s our mission to remove all shipping pain points for them. Shipping a package should be as simple as sending a text message. When you use a mobile phone, you never think about which carrier delivers the text, or what the costs will be. There’s an abstraction layer in between you and the telecommunication network. Shippo is the abstraction layer for the shipping network.
What’s your fondest memory of Shippo?
Having been part of Shippo since day 1, there are so many fond memories! I will never forget the moment we sold our first shipping label to a real customer (February 14, 2014). It’s also amazing to see some of our earliest customers still trusting Shippo to power their shipping experience, for more than six years. More recently, I’m very excited about the launch of what we internally call the “New Experience.” It’s the first major overhaul of our web application. We had a pretty good v1, which we built in 2014 as a thin UI layer on top of our API. But we’ve learned a lot from our customers since then, and have started to gradually roll out a completely new fulfillment workflow. It goes way beyond just purchasing a shipping label. We help our customers with carrier recommendations, optimized shipping rates, and automated customs forms, among many other things—all with zero setup required by our customers.
Where do you get your shipping and industry news?
To learn about how to succeed in creating a world-class shipping experience in e-commerce, there’s of course no better starting point than Shippo’s Ultimate E-commerce Shipping Guide. If you’re looking for the most recent news in e-commerce & shipping, you can follow ECommerceBytes, Matthew Hertz’s newsletter, Retail Dive, or similar blogs, too. There have been a lot of interesting articles about Amazon, UPS, FedEx, and the changing carrier landscape recently, such as how FedEx adapts in today’s economy.
As a co-founder of a shipping software startup, what’s your outlook for the shipping industry, and how does Shippo help make that outlook a reality?
E-commerce shipping is still in the early days. Some of the major changes are just starting to materialize. E-commerce as a whole is still the fastest-growing, trillion-dollar market. But shipping hasn’t caught up with modern e-commerce realities. That’s why we see Amazon and other retailers building out their own logistics infrastructures; why there are many emerging carriers, such as Axlehire or CDL; and why the biggest carriers such as UPS and FedEx are transforming their businesses towards digital channels and small e-commerce merchants. It’s an exciting time in the market.
Our mission at Shippo is to help merchants and carriers navigate these new rules of e-commerce shipping. We enable merchants to create a world-class shipping experience for their customers. And we help carriers successfully improve their business to meet e-commerce needs and opportunities.
It sounds like Shippo has a great opportunity to lead shipping for e-commerce. How do you see Shippo standing out among competitors in this space?
Shippo’s focus is to empower modern, growing e-commerce merchants to create a delightful shipping experience for their customers. With Shippo, you don’t need any prior shipping knowledge; you don’t need to dedicate two days to set up the system, and you don’t have to worry about the hidden complexity. We think of Shippo like the Apple TV. We are not offering our customers a remote with 500 buttons, for which they need to study a 200-page manual first. We think about Shippo as a system that just works, and that delights the user. Our customers love Shippo because our product is built for the new, digital era of shipping.
What’s Shippo’s most important priority that will grow the company?
When we think about growth, we put our customers first. We focus on what helps e-commerce merchants grow their business (which then, in turn, helps Shippo grow as well). Currently, we’re focused on increasing the breadth and depth of the Shippo platform value. As an example, we are launching new partnerships with carriers, such as our UPS partnership, to allow SMBs to access the best carriers for their needs. Also, we’re expanding our product to provide a seamless, end-to-end fulfillment solution for e-commerce merchants—Shippo helps your business succeed from the moment of order placement, all the way to the buyer receiving the package. We’re excited to make Shippo both easier to use and smarter so that merchants can make the best shipping decisions and create a world-class shipping experience for their customers.
I see that we’re adding a lot of new team members to Shippo’s herd. Which one do you want to highlight and how will that role add more value to Shippo’s customers?
There are many new roles that we’ve been posting on our career site this quarter. Right now, we’re hiring new software engineers to join our Engineering teams both at our San Francisco headquarter led by Vinay Kuruvilla, VP of Engineering, and at our new Austin, Texas hub led by Yasser Farra, Senior Director, Head of Austin Engineering.
We’re growing fast and we want to focus on providing more customer value by expanding our product. And, doing that will allow us to build better products, services, and scalable systems for our customers.
If I were a candidate interviewing at Shippo, what advice would you have for me?
We’re looking for individuals who are excited to have a real-world impact and lead the transition of the shipping industry to the new world of shipping.
A good way to prepare is to play around with our product to get a sense for how it helps merchants be successful. You can also check out our ongoing series of Dev Corner blogs such as Matthew Hwang’s spotlight. In the interview, be curious and honest. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
What gets you up in the morning and what keeps you up at night?
Two things get me up in the morning and make me most excited about Shippo: (1) We have a real-world impact and are leading the transformation of a big industry. Every day, we help small businesses grow their business and make their customers happier. (2) We have a team of dedicated employees who care about our customers, as well as about each other. It’s a huge privilege to work with our team every day and grow Shippo together.
I’m not able to sleep at night whenever someone calls Shippo “Goshippo,” and I remember that we still haven’t been able to buy the domain “shippo.com” :-/. If anyone is able to help us, please reach out to me and I promise an appropriate bonus 🙂
Lightning round questions:
- Three favorite books of all time
- The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, Brad Stone
- How To Make Friends And Influence People, Dale Carnegie
- Remembrance of Earth’s Past Trilogy, Cixin Liu
- You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be?
- Switch, PS4, XBox One, or PC?
- Xbox, because they decided to copy our brand color
- If you could meet a historical figure, who and why?
- Arnold Schwarzenegger, because he’s an inspiring and cool guy
Stay tuned for more Shippo Q&A sessions coming soon! In the meantime, if you’ve got questions on how to simplify your shipping operations, explore Shippo now.