#37: Dhruv Saxena CEO of ShipBob

Dhruv Saxena CEO of ShipBob

Dhruv Saxena CEO of ShipBob

It is my pleasure to have us with us today Dhruv Saxena , CEO of ShipBob. ShipBob is a technology company that streamlines shipping and order fulfillment for #ecommerce businesses. Dhruv co-founded ShipBob in May 2014 with Divey Gulati, out of YCombinator. Prior to ShipBob, he spent two years as a software developer at InContext Solutions, another Chicago startup. And previously he spent a few years as research assistant at Purdue University.

ShipBob has raised a total of $62 million from investors like Bain Capital Ventures, Hyde Park Venture Partners, Hyde Park Angels and Y Combinator.

Shipbob provides same-, next-, and 2-day shipping for ecommerce companies of all sizes taking the hassle out of storing, picking, packing, and shipping products. The startup aims to help small to midsize e-commerce companies ship their products at speeds similar to Amazon.

Connect with the Guest:

Dhruv Saxena: LinkedIn | Twitter Company Website

Some of the highlights from the podcast:

  • How is ShipBob unique? What is special about the product?
  • Hot manage threats and disruptions in the market
  • ShipBob’s International Expansion Strategy
  • Lessons learned growing from 100+ employees to 450+ employees
  • Every single thing the employees do must be optimized
  • Trust that the team around you is as wise as you.

Episode #37: Dhruv Saxena CEO of ShipBob

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Show notes:

  • [01:27] Tell us more about your background. You started in the research assistant and then moved to be the founder and CEO of a startup – ShipBob. How did this happen?
  • [06:51] What is the story behind ShipBob? And why did you decide to found it?
  • [11:47] What are some examples of the clients you work with?
  • [18:19] How do you make money? Can you give us more details about your pricing model?
  • [21:13] What is your strategy for international expansion?
  • [24:24] What differentiates ShipBob from the next type of a similar service?
  • [27:26] What do you think might be the biggest threats or disruptors to your journey later on?
  • [33:15] How do you delight end customers while considering their immediate clients? How transparent is it to the end consumer to have encountered innovative shipping services?
  • [36:19] How do you manage on-boarding? How do you train them? How do you get your newly graduated staff to speed in terms of logistics and Supply Chain Management knowledge?
  • [44:46] Have you needed lately any senior executive from outside the company? What is the most challenging part about finding and attracting the right talent?
  • [51:50] What are the most difficult hard skills to find for your team? How about soft skills?
  • [54:24] What are your biggest struggles so far in your journey as an entrepreneur?
  • [59:35] Looking back at the ShipBob story so far, what are the things that make you most proud of?

Related Episodes:

Episode #16: Marco Civardi Managing Director Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar & Laos at Damco

Episode #28: Brad Hollister CEO of SwanLeap

Episode #32: Laura Behrens Wu Founder & CEO at Shippo

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#31: Zvi Schreiber CEO at Freightos

Zvi Schreiber CEO at Freightos

Zvi Schreiber CEO at Freightos

Today I am happy to have with us Zvi Schreiber CEO at Freightos.  Freightos is an online freight marketplace and SaaS software to usher the logistics industry into the digital era, making global shipping faster, more cost-effective and smoother. Simply put, like Expedia or Kayak for the shipping industry. With Investors including GE Ventures and the Singapore Exchange they raised $94.4 million. And currently have around 200 employees and six offices across the United States, Asia and the Middle East.

Zvi Schreiber  is a serial Internet entrepreneur. He founded Tradeum Inc. one of the pioneers of B2B E-Commerce, which achieved revenues of over US$100m. Later on founded Unicorn Inc., sold to IBM, and, sold to Infinity Fund. He also was CEO of clean-tech electronics company Lightech which he sold in 2011 to General Electric (GE) Lighting. He has a PhD in Computer Science and he’s also the author of Fizz: Nothing Is as It Seems, which tells the history of physics as a novel.

Connect with the Guest:

Zvi Schreiber: LinkedIn | Twitter  Company Website

Some of the highlights from the podcast:

  • Automated pricing at a few clicks away – for freight? Does this really work?
  • Transparency is inevitable – how do you work with this?
  • Why selling online is better? You don’t need an army of people in nice suits playing golf with your client.
  • Why Zvi works in an open space not an office?
  • What do to as an entrepreneur when you know most startups fail?
  • 50% of all importers still use excel sheets – how does Freightos tackle that?

Episode #31: Zvi Schreiber CEO at Freightos

Show notes:

  • [01:31] What threw you in the entrepreneurship bug? Does it run in the family?
  • [03:02] How did you decide to found Freightos? How did you end up in the freight industry?
  • [05:16] Considering that nearly 50% of all importers (47% to be exact) still use spreadsheets. How does Freightos address this issue?
  • [09:10] There have been a few hurdles to get over. Forwarders have naturally been nervous about a potential downward pressure on rates that could come from an online booking service. How did you overcome this hurdles?
  • [11:51] You said somewhere that the launch of other online platforms, such as Kuehne + Nagel’s – FreightNet – has also helped the industry move on. How do you see this movement?
  • [14:04] Who is your main target customer and do you work with them? What are some examples you  can give us?
  • [17:14] How does Freightos ensure that all liners hosted on their website are just not competing on the price point but also giving the desires level of service to its customer?
  • [19:07] The Singapore Exchange (SGX) has completed a US$44.4 million, Series C funding round for Freightos. Can you tell us more about how you plan to develop synchronicites between SGX and Freightos?
  • [22:01] What are the biggest challenges that company has when working in Europe and Asia? what are the differences in terms of standards and operations?
  • [24:16] Where do you plan to expand next? Any focus areas you have in mind?
  • [26:55] What do you focus on when hiring people at Freightos?
  • [29:01] What are some of the elements that define the culture of Freightos?
  • [30:34] How do you manage to attract the top talent – why do people choose your company and not others?
  • [32:42] What were some of the lessons you learned so far as an entrepreneur? Key takeaways.
  • [34:19] Looking back at the Freightos story so far, what are the things that make you most proud of?
  • [36:18] Tell us a bit more about the book – Fizz: Nothing Is as It Seems. 

Related Episodes:

Episode #01: Didier Chenneveau Executive Director Ernst & Young

Episode #08: Matthias Heutger SVP Marketing and Innovation at DHL

Episode #30: Keith Carter Associate Professor | Author | TEDx Speaker

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#29: Razat Gaurav CEO of LLamasoft

Razat Gaurav, CEO of Llamasoft

Razat Gaurav CEO of LLamasoft

Today I am excited to have with us Razat Gaurav, CEO of LLamasoft. LLamasoft is a supply chain design software which helps organizations worldwide across a wide range of industries to model, optimize and simulate their supply chain network, leading to major improvements in cost, service, sustainability and risk mitigation. 50% of Fortune 100 companies have designed their supply chains with LLamasoft.

A few words on Razat Gaurav:
Razat has more than two decades of supply chain planning and execution experience, he has played a critical role in the digital transformations of some of the world’s biggest brands and his work has influenced the flow of billions of dollars’ worth of goods. With proven leadership in scaling and growing enterprise software businesses on a global basis, Razat most recently served as JDA Software’s Executive Vice President, General Manager and Chief Revenue Officer and previously held leadership roles at i2 Technologies and Ernst & Young (EY). A trusted expert on supply chain trends, he has been quoted in The New York Times, Forbes and The Hill, among other top media. Razat has a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Connect with the Guest:

Razat Gaurav: LinkedIn | Twitter Company Website

Some of the highlights from the podcast:

  • How they helped Schneider Electric to save 8 mil USD in cost
  • How to optimize a fresh produce supply chain – like avocados and bananas
  • Outsmarting uncertainty – Challenges that most clients face before implementing LLamasoft software
  • Creating a platform for clients to develop their own Supply Chain APP

Episode #29: Razat Gaurav CEO of LLamasoft

Show notes:

  • [01:32] For the few of our listeners that maybe are not yet familiar with LLamaSoft, What is a simple way to explain what LLamaSoft is?
  • [02:26] Can you give us some case studies of how LLamasoft has helped some of your clients achieve great improvements in their supply chains? I think it was a Schneider Electric study case where you saved 8 mil USD in cost.
  • [07:40] Talking about fresh produce like avocados and bananas – how did LLamasoft play a role in optimizing the supply chain for clients that deal with this kind of goods.
  • [13:20] What are the challenges that most of your clients face before implementing LLamasoft software?
  • [21:10] How do you differentiate yourself from your competition? What are the key elements you focus on?
  • [32:38] I understand that you doubled your headcount in the last three years, now reaching around 500. How do you make sure that the recruitment process is on point – effective? What are the things you look for when hiring?
  • [37:55] What are some of the key attributes you look for in the leadership team?
  • [41:00] What are your expansion plans?  Where do you plan to expand next and what are the next milestones?
  • [45:42] If you were to think about the industry in next 5-10 years. What are some of the trends you see coming?

Related Episodes:

Episode #08: Matthias Heutger SVP Marketing and Innovation at DHL

Episode #17: Dr. Yossi Sheffi Director of the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics

Episode #28: Brad Hollister CEO of SwanLeap

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The single most important thing in START-ups: Hiring!

The single most important thing in START-ups: Hiring!

What is the biggest challenge for start ups?

You would think it’s raising money, closing deals, doing sales or finding partners.

Wrong! It’s hiring people. I bet if you polled a bunch of startup founders the data would be very conclusive.

Below we want to share some of the discussions we had with start-up founders and CEOs around recruitment on our Leaders in Supply Chain Podcast.

In talking with Paul Srivorakul Co-Founder & Group CEO of aCommerce he said: “The most important thing in a startup, before pitching investors, is to be able to convince the top talent to join your business. Because your business model is interesting, it address a real need and has huge potential. They have the autonomy of working on existing products today, but they can also build new products and services of tomorrow with your company. That excites them.”

Recruiting is important at any firm.

In a startup it is vital.

When you have thousands of employees, you can still get by even when you hire a few people who don’t belong. At a startup you are lean. So every hire must count. One single bad hire can do huge damage.

Large firms have a product and employer brand that can attract applicants. Most startups have to work hard to get noticed. The branding, the story is not out there. External recruiters are sometimes reluctant in working with startups. On top of this, recruitment is more difficult because startups are targeting engineers and IT staff. Which are the second- and third-most difficult-to-fill jobs.

How to create a strong leadership culture: Ed Clarke Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Yojee was sharing with us on one of our podcasts: “We have taken a top down approach in building teams. So the question is: How do you take this business to 10x growth? Then we start with a technology manager and few inexperienced members in the team. This at the beginning. But then we need people who can scale the business fast. Who can build strong teams underneath them, and then break those team and ask them to lead their own teams. Top down approach and working with experienced people that can build the teams they lead. So this creates a cycle of leadership that leads the company to 10x growth. “

Create and develop your story!

Don’t rely only on job posts. You want to attract ‘fresh blood’? Get your story out there! Share it with the local media and on blogs. After finding a job offer, 64% of candidates said they research a company online and 37% said they will move on to another job offer if they can’t find information on the company. (Careerbuilder 2016)

You need a story inventory. Stories about your product, the way you manage it. Stories about the CEO and founders, about the people working there. About their success and failures. Start by identifying the factors that journalists and bloggers like to write about. Identify the common factors that writers and editors like to publish. Be open, be honest and authentic. People love this!

Social media, USE IT!

Take advantage of the contacts and networks of your employees. Spread your employer brand, recruiting, and job opening messages to thousands at a minimal cost. Focus on LinkedIn. It is the most powerful social media recruiting channel. It is a great channel to share your story!

Get your CEO to do recruitment

Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook are an excellent example. A startup firm using its CEO as their chief recruiter. Let’s face it. When people hear “CEO” they pay more attention.

Getting the CEO to speak and attend events will improve your recruiting contacts. It will boost your press coverage as well. You also have to train them on what to say and how to say it. It is mandatory that the CEO encompasses the energy and vision of the company. That’s how you attract great talent. Direct calls from your CEO or CTO can also be a powerful recruiting and closing tool. “You should never hire someone to work for you unless you would work for them”

Zuckerberg has shared this recruiting philosophy a couple of times. He told LinkedIn Co-founder Reid Hoffman on Masters of Scale: “If you’re building a big organization, it works many layers down,” he said. “If each person is only hiring people to work directly for them, that they would want to work for – then you’re probably going to get a pretty strong organization.”

Taking in consideration that 80–90% of talent say a positive or negative interview experience can change their mind about a role or company. (LinkedIn, 2015 Talent Trends), it’s clear that interviewing is a vital process in the race to get the best talent.

GrabTaxi’s CEO, Anthony Tan reflects on the lessons learned: “We need top talent and to not spend money on advertising,” says Tan. “Hire people who are smarter than you and faster than you, while at the same time are humble and can take feedback.” Tan says if there’s one mistake he made building his company, it’s spending too much time with the investors and not enough with the employees. He says: “I, then, learned that our employees need the one-on-one time. They joined you – they deserve your time, and you need to spend time to align vision.” [from Techinasia]

What are you looking for when recruiting as a CEO/founder?

This is what Matthew Tillman CEO of Haven Inc told us when looking for his leadership team: “If I am recruiting a leader in the company, I want them to hire people better than they are. I want them to attract talent that’s better than they are. And have the ego to be able to help that person succeed. We hire that have a natural curiosity and take accountability seriously. The first 25 people that you have, set the tone for the whole company forever. “

Paul Srivorakul Co-Founder & Group CEO aCommerce: “For us is the matter of the passion and eagerness to learn. We tackle a lot of areas: marketing, retail, logistics. We attract talent because of the complexity of the model. When logistics people with supply chain background join our business they actually want to learn more – about distribution, about B2C retailing, B2B retailing all the way up to marketing. And the marketing guys also want to learn about logistics as well.”

Erik Cheong Co-Founder & CMO of Park N Parcel: “We need hungry and driven individuals to be on our team. We don’t have the luxury of big budgets for senior executives. For example my customer service team they do marketing as well. If they are unsure we will allocate budget for them to do self learning. In our start-up we have multiple roles. Startup is different from corporate. Corporate you apply your expertise but in a startup you must do a lot of different things.”

“The best performers are 4X as productive as average performers.” (HBR, Making Star Teams Out of Star Players). If Harvard Business Review is right, then you must be all in as a leader when selecting your team.

Chang Wen Lai CEO at Ninja Van: “It is a lot about self- awareness. This is fantastic for people who want to learn because they know that they don’t know. The worst people are those who think they know everything. The second worst people are those who do not know that they don’t know everything. The people who we like to hire are the people who know that they have big gaps in their knowledge. These are the people who keep poking, keep learning, keep trying to improve themselves.”

Another interesting study: “80% of a business’s profits are generated by 20% of its workers.” (HBR, How to Keep A Players Productive). It is all about finding the stars and making sure they are driven to work hard for the company’s vision.

Talking about what CEOs look at when recruiting, let’s take a look at Brian Chesky’s (CEO of Airbnb) favorite interview questions: “If you had 10 years left to live, would you take this job?” Chesky explained that this interview questions can reveal how committed a candidate is. “Whatever you want to do in those last 10 years you should just do. I really want you to think about that, that was enough time for you to do something you really cared about and the answer doesn’t have to be this company,” added Chesky.

Final Thoughts

Imagine a startup like a sports team. Recruiting top talent the only way win. The competition is huge. The stakes are high. You need to keep your eye on the ball. A startup cannot grow without recruiting. And if it grows with mediocre people. You might as well throw in the towel.

Hiring great people means you spend less time on training and development. You focus more on creating value. Hire innovators. The value that they bring is priceless compared to the cost and time involved in recruiting.

You want to win the recruiting war? Then every employee of the startup from the CEO on down needs to adopt the role of a 24/7 continuous talent scout!

Want to stay updated with latest developments in our industry? Our Podcast is out! Stay tuned here – Leaders in Supply Chain and Logistics:

Some of my other articles (would appreciate your feedback):

About me:

I have been working in consulting and executive search roles for the last decade. My focus: helping clients get better results. And building strong teams in the process.

A fervent believer that people are the key in any business, I enjoy challenging assignments most. The ones that involve using a multitude of channels and tools to find the right senior executive to take our clients business to the next level.

I have lived and worked in several countries across the world. Being exposed to different countries and business realities has helped me mature into a rounded international business manager. And luckily over the years I have had the chance to work with and build great teams.

My focus is on end to end Supply Chain Executive Search: C-level, Vice President, General Management, Supply Chain leadership, Logistics leadership, Procurement leadership, Operations, Regional/Global Project Management appointments.

Always happy to connect on Linkedin for future interactions!

Tens and hundreds of people saying “Thank YOU!”


Just had lunch with the CEO of a multinational company. After a couple of decades with the company, he decided to step down.
Having announced his departure, what happened last couple of months shocked him!

Tens and hundreds of people messaged him to say “Thank YOU”. Tens of people cried when they heard the news. One colleague he had not spoken in 15 years called him to tell him how much he had impacted his career and life.

In a word, he was positively shocked!!

I asked him why. His response:

“I was only doing my job! And in our company, people are not encouraged to give praise much. So I NEVER knew what impact I had!”

And this was shocking to me!

And made me want to share this. We should not wait until somebody leaves to tell them how much they helped us. May it be the CEO, an important mentor, a colleague, etc . We should do it all along!

So comment and tag somebody that helped you in your career. Or thank them in person! Let’s spread the word!