How This Shipping Company Climbed to Unicornhood

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On August 17, 2022, two days after India celebrated its 76th foundingThe tenth On Independence Day, logistics startup Shiprocket joined the elite group of companies, the “unicorn,” whose legendary name perhaps aptly captures the nature of its multi-billion-dollar valuations — more than it is. Regardless, this monumental achievement has rightly won recognition from friends, family, and employees alike. Was transforming rhinos an obvious goal from the start? “It never was. It all happened so organically,” says cheerful Sahil Joel, Shiprocket co-founder and CEO, and jogging enthusiast.

Plain Joel, Co-Founder and CEO of Shiprocket

The dream of creating Shiprocket – an integrated platform to alleviate the logistical problems of India’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SMBs) – grew out of a larger vision to enable the country’s e-commerce sector to truly come into its own realm. The journey began over a decade ago when Joel, who was working full-time as a consultant at an IT services company in Pittsburgh, US, joined forces with his friend, Gautam Kapoor, to start a part-time venture, BigFoot Retail Solutions, in New Delhi to build a technology platform To help small businesses connect to the Internet. This platform, KartRocket, is designed roughly as the Indian equivalent of Canada’s Shopify.

Although side hustle and overtime have recently become controversial practices in the Indian entrepreneurial world, the early days of many successful startups invariably see founders toiling at odd hours from dawn to dusk working on their dream projects alongside their core jobs. . Joel explained, for example, how he would get up at 4:00 on those days to work with Kapoor until the last impetus took a few months to move to India to focus full time on their new business. On whether the unicorn startup he owns today has a policy on overtime, or not, he has remained silent.

“While Kartrocket was successfully operating, we identified a significant opportunity in the shipping portion of the ordering journey. We realized that the real heavy lifting was happening after the order was placed and this was the beginning of Shiprocket: a single platform to ease sellers’ problems,” he continued. Shiprocket was finally started in 2017 by Goel, Kapoor and Vishesh Khurana, and since then has been aggregating leading courier partners on a single platform where sellers can choose and compare multiple shipping options simultaneously. In 2020, the startup upgraded Akshay Gulati from the position of Director of Business (CBO) to another co-founder.

Today, Shiprocket claims to have more than 17 leading partners offering over 24,000 PIN codes in India and over 220 countries across the globe. Its notable clients include D2C skincare brand MamaEarth, founded by Ghazal Alla of the famous Shark Tank India, American safety razor brand Gillette, local sonic tech company BoAt, and India’s largest shoe maker by volume, Relaxo, among others. others.

Joel attributes Shiprocket’s growth largely to its investors: “The faith of our current investors has made us a unicorn today!” For the first year since its birth, the startup has booted and sold its services to generate salaries for its engineers who were building the core product. Two years after the start-up, it raised funds from angel investors. In the end, it secured capital from big investors such as Zomato (one of the world’s 10 largest online food delivery companies), 9 Unnicorns (a $70 million Indian accelerator fund), and Temasek Holdings (a government investor in Singapore with a net portfolio of $70 million). about $284 billion), among others. To date, Shiprocket has raised $309.79 million across nine funding rounds. Joel added, “Today, we are one of the biggest companies in India; it feels really good. We have come a long way and we have to keep moving forward.”

Moving forward involves overcoming current obstacles and planning for the future. “Fitness of the product to market was a major challenge we faced when we started the company. Our customers struggled the most in the post-purchase cycle, as they did not have the infrastructure to fulfill direct incoming orders on their social media accounts or websites. They relied on Amazon to fulfill market demands. Their Shipprocket was created to solve this problem,” Joel said. Having achieved its initial goal and survived a global pandemic, the company is now looking to mitigate other issues, such as providing sellers with omni-channel solutions to bridge the gap between online and offline selling, while ultimately putting the wheels in global motion. Expansion, starting with the Middle East. To achieve the latter end, Shiprocket launched its services in Saudi Arabia in November of last year. Building a complete D2C enabling platform is at the top of the company’s current agenda.

The transformation of the rhino naturally has led to a number of benefits: large investors, the right talent pool, strategic acquisitions, among others. “We are still at the beginning of our journey to revolutionize direct commerce and we still have a long way to go,” Joel insisted, although not much has changed internally for the company. So what has changed for him personally? He simply replied, “I like to run.” As an idealistic young man of years ago, his energy, tireless ambition, and fewer family responsibilities ensured that he spent all that time working – from learning email etiquette to engineering a server – as he navigated the stresses of making his mark in the real world. Today, he strives to find a better work-life balance: “I spend my time with my family and friends, I run every day and try to capture the essence of life.”

As a testament to the wisdom that often accompanies age, Joel’s personal vision has expanded to make a positive impact everywhere – on his team members, clients, and the overall ecosystem. “I want to create a platform that outperforms me and continues to generate value for all stakeholders over the long term,” he said in a modest statement.

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