How this shipping startup became a unicorn

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On August 17, 2022, two days after India celebrated its 76the On Independence Day, logistics startup Shiprocket joined an elite group of companies, “unicorns,” whose mythical name perhaps quite aptly captures the more fantasy than reality nature of their billion-dollar valuations. Regardless, the big milestone rightly drew appreciation from friends, family, and employees alike. Make a unicorn a clear target from the start? “It never was. It all happened organically,” exclaimed Sahil Goel, co-founder and CEO of Shiprocket, and racing enthusiast himself.

Sahil Goel, Co-Founder and CEO of Shiprocket

The dream of establishing Shiprocket, a one-stop platform to ease the logistics pain points of India’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), originated from a broader vision to empower the country’s e-commerce sector to truly stand out. . The journey began more than a decade ago when Goel, then working full time as a consultant at an IT services company in Pittsburgh, USA, joined forces with his friend, Gautam Kapoor, to start a part-time company. , BigFoot Retail Solutions, in New Delhi to build a technology platform to help small businesses connect. This platform, KartRocket, was designed almost as an Indian equivalent of Canada’s Shopify.

While side hustles and moonlighting have become controversial practices in the Indian business world of late, the early days of many successful startups invariably see founders working odd hours from dawn to dusk to work on the projects of your dreams along with your main works. Goel, for example, explained how he would wake up at 4:00 a.m. on those days to work with Kapoor until, a few months later, he took the final step and moved to India to focus full time on his new job. business. However, on whether his unicorn startup today has a policy on moonlighting, he kept quiet.

“While successfully running Kartrocket, we identified a huge opportunity in the shipping part of the order journey. We realized that the real heavy lifting happens after an order is placed and that was the beginning of Shiprocket – a unique platform to alleviate vendors’ problems,” he continued. Finally started in 2017 by Goel, Kapoor, and Vishesh Khurana, Shiprocket has since been aggregating major courier partners into a single platform from where sellers can simultaneously choose and compare multiple shipping options. In 2020, the startup elevated Akshay Ghulati from chief commercial officer (CBO) to another co-founder.

Today, Shiprocket claims to have over 17 leading partners delivering to over 24,000 PIN codes in India and over 220 countries worldwide. Some of his notable clients include skincare brand D2C MamaEarth, co-founded by Ghazal Alagh of Shark Tank India, US razor brand Gillette, local audio technology company BoAt, and India’s largest shoemaker. India by volume, Relaxo, among others.

Goel attributes Shiprocket’s growth largely to its investors: “The faith of our current investors made us a unicorn today!” For the first year since its birth, the startup went live and sold its services to generate salaries for its engineers who were building the core product. After a couple of years of operation, it raised funds from angel investors. It eventually raised capital from big investors like Zomato (one of the world’s top 10 e-commerce food delivery companies), 9Unicorns (a $70 million Indian accelerator fund), and Temasek Holdings (Singapore state-owned investor with a net worth portfolio). of around $284 billion), among others. So far, Shiprocket has raised $309.79 million in nine funding rounds. “Today, we are considered one of the top companies in India, it really feels good. We have come a long way and we have to keep moving forward,” added Goel.

Moving forward involves overcoming current obstacles and planning for the future. “Product-to-market fit was a key challenge we faced when we started the company. Our customers struggled most in the post-purchase cycle, where they had no infrastructure to fulfill direct orders received on their social media accounts or websites. They trusted Amazon to fulfill their marketplace orders. Shiprocket was created to solve this problem,” Goel said. Having achieved its initial goal and survived a global pandemic, the company is now looking to mitigate other issues, such as providing omnichannel solutions to sellers to bridge the gap between online and offline sales, while also launching the wheels for eventual global. expansion, beginning with the Middle East. To the latter end, Shiprocket launched its services in Saudi Arabia in November of last year. Building a complete D2C enablement platform is high on the company’s current agenda.

Becoming a unicorn has naturally given way to a number of benefits: top investors, the right talent pool, strategic acquisitions, and more. However, Goel insisted that internally not much has changed for the company: “We are still at the beginning of our journey to revolutionize direct trading and there is a long way to go.” What, then, has changed for him personally? “I love to run,” he replied simply. As a quintessential young man years ago, his relentless energy and ambition and fewer family responsibilities ensured he spent all this time working, from learning email etiquette to server architecture, while navigating the pressures of making a mark on the world. real. Today, he seeks to find a better balance between work and life: “I spend time with my family and friends, go running every day and try to capture the essence of life.”

In evidence of the wisdom that often comes with age, Goel’s personal vision has broadened to make a positive impact on all fronts: his team members, clients, and the broader ecosystem. “I would like to create a platform that will outlive me and continue to create value for all stakeholders in the long term,” she said humbly.

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