CEO Shippo on building a culture of transparency

Video editing contribution Xavier Smith
While Laura Behrens Wu, CEO Shippo, was working for another startup in San Francisco, she ran a small e-commerce store on the side and often had to find time during the work day to run to the post office. “The post office is open at weird hours, I was trying to figure out how to solve that problem – it got bigger than I thought it would be,” Wu said.
Wu ended up joining 500 Startups with co-founder Simon Kreuz and built Shippo, an API e-commerce shipping platform that helps small businesses connect with shipping providers for the best rates. Shippo also helps the owners by aggregating their volume and pass on discounted shipping rates, “sometimes up to 80 percent off retail USPS,” Wu said.

Co-founders Shippo Laura & Simon
Co-founders Shippo Laura & Simon

Wu focuses on giving small businesses an easy, user-friendly tool that allows the owner to focus on their business instead of the nuances of shipping.
“People want to focus on building out their product, marketing and getting customers. We give them a simple tool, a simple platform. You don’t have to be technical to work with it,” Wu said.


Laura Behrens Wu on how Shippo helps small businesses from TechCrunch Disrupt

Since the company’s launch in 2014, they have raised $2.28 million. Today they have more than 1,000 e-commerce stores using the platform. Recently, Shippo was integrated to GoDaddy’s ecommerce platform.
READ: GoDaddy’s Online Store becomes more secure and Shippo savvy
Wu has seen her role as CEO morph overtime and the job certainly has its challenges.  “…[it] really evolves quite a lot. Usually I was doing everything- customer service, fundraising – like everything was on my plate. Now it’s more about people management. Working with many different people, managing them correctly and providing them the right support to [excel] at what they are doing is difficult- it is very difficult,” Wu said.

Shippo HQ
Shippo HQ

The culture at Shippo has a blend of transparency, good communication and accountability. “For me, it is very important that we have a very transparent culture in the company; it leads to better communication and more participation from team members. We try to hire people that have an entrepreneurial mind set and want people to contribute their own ideas. What’s also working for us is to assign people ownership over their project. We want everyone in the company to own their part of the business,” Wu said.
As a female CEO in the tech industry, she hopes to inspire more women to enter the field and intends to maintain a diverse employee base.
“My number one advice [to women] would be to be confident. You are building something. You know what you are building really well. You are the most qualified person to speak about it. So don’t be timid or shy about it. Just be confident about it. Be very persistent about it as well,” she said.
Shippo HQ

While they do have a diverse staff, Wu said the company needs to do a better job of adding female tech talent, but it’s hard to find. Currently, they have “five to six different countries represented at Shippo. That’s another type of diversity we are very proud of; different cultures end up bringing in different ideas,” she said.
The next steps for Shippo is to ramp up the marketing, expand their team, and begin to offer same day delivery.
Read about more female CEOs at AZ Tech Beat
Graphics courtesy of Shippo
AZTB coverage from TechCrunch Disrupt