Building Shipitwise sure hasn’t been all fun and games. More likely, it’s been a struggle going from an idea to another, searching for the real Problem that we should be solving.
Yes, we’ve always known that we’re here to “disrupt” logistics. To make it easier, or even possible to ship various small, big or simply weird items across the world.
But what most starting companies don’t know is what the end product will look like. Thus, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that for the better part of 2016 we also didn’t have a clue whose problem we’re really solving…
By now, of course, we’re more or less past this problem. And have focused on helping travellers transport their leisure and sporting gear directly to their hotel and back home again. Meanwhile, our bigger vision is to make it possible for travellers to travel completely hands free.
Although before we get to make this come true, it’s time to rewind and look back at how it all got started.
Startup Wise Guys — the accelerator that started it all
Shipitwise has many origin stories, and dates we could consider as the Founding Day. Yet, we celebrated our first birthday on January 18th, the day we started at Startup Wise Guys accelerator. Only because this was the first time we all decided to really get serious building this thing. Cutting all other ties loose.
And those that couldn’t do that, sadly, just aren’t a part of the team any longer.
Joining the accelerator really was the wisest decision we made. Not only because of the first investment we got from them. But that’s also where we managed to verify that we’re onto something, after spending countless hours with various mentors, as well as really bonding with the Team.
Though, after losing some people, we were now left without an engineer, who could really build all of it. Still, even that didn’t slow us down. We did have a working website with a form where people could leave their emails. And they did use it! In fact, that’s exactly the product we used to serve our first thirty customers.
From this point onward things could only get better.
We started to grow our team, hiring engineers, logisticians and sales reps. Released our first real product – a bit nicer data input form. Got a €7’000 grant from Prototron — a fund that gives our equity free cash. Served ever more customers. Started our first crowdfunding campaign on Funderbeam. Visited tech conferences in five different countries and helped to open the motorbike season in Estonia. As well as finally raised our first investment worth of €176’200.
Shipitwise HQ on Rotermanni St — time to move out
Before we closed our first FFF round, we had to move out from the Wise Guys office. So, we tried to fit ten people around five tables together with another team. It was cosy and everything. But we quickly realised that our office mate’s were not happy about us doing too many sales calls, while constantly bringing in new people to the quiet developer bunker.
Thus, a month later it was again time to move. This time, just one floor down, remaining in the Rotermann City.
Meanwhile, we decided to change our focus to various manufacturers that need to organise transportation of their goods. And would love to do it in a simpler way. Perhaps even automatically!
That’s also when we finally released the product we’ve now been developing further. A platform that gives you an instant shipping quote. Though, for the first six months it didn’t give out any automatic prices. But it did make our life much easier, as customers would hand in all necessary information before we needed to contact them about anything.
All in all, this pivot seemed to have proven itself. The revenues started growing. And we needed to constantly onboard more manpower to cater the need. However, even this didn’t help us get cashflow positive.
Let’s get back to the roots — yet another pivot
Moreover, soon we found ourselves in need of another cash injection and decided to go back to Funderbeam. As a matter of fact, we managed to close this round within just three weeks, ready to keep on going.
After closing the second round, and receiving €181’196.6, we knew it’s time to change the business model once again. Thus, we decided to return our focus to individuals that are travelling, and need to move bulky items that others (logistics and shipping companies) don’t want to, or cannot deal with.
But this time we started to build partnerships with various airlines and travel agencies. Why so? Because they’re already selling various travel related services to their customers. Thus it’s much cheaper and more effective for them to offer one more thing.
First up, we knew it’s our job to close a deal with Nordica, the Estonian airline. Because we thought others would simply want to copy them. And would thus also start offering our service to their customers.
By the end of November, the deal was done and our service had been integrated with their website. Next up, we really did get noticed by other airlines and travel agencies, meaning it was time to start onboarding them.
The Future seems so bright
Probably the biggest indicator of us finding the right audience was the next partnership we were invited to. That’s when Travelport, the world’s only true Travel Commerce Platform, invited us onto their platform. They’re the platform that is redefining travel commerce. And now we’re able to do it together with them. While having an opportunity to reach 69’000 other tourism companies on their platform.
As of now, we’ve already managed to get on the radar of most travel agencies from Baltics and Nordics, and working our way towards the UK. As well as preparing deals with airlines like AirBaltic, Finnair, SAS, RyanAir etc.
Furthermore, we’ve finally got our platform to give out instant prices when shipping most leisure and travel gear from the Baltic’s to the Western Europe. All that while our IT and logistics teams are working hard on making it possible to give out instant prices on all routes for almost anything. And much more than that…
So it seems that the latest pivot really has turned things upside down for us, in a great way! Mostly, thanks to our amazing advisors, Jana Busch and Daniel Brown. Both with impressive backgrounds in the tourism sector.
Which of course also means we need to start working even harder and keep on serving our great customers. Like Estonia’s new president that used our service to send her family’s skis to France with us.
And if the president already uses our service, then why wouldn’t you?