Today, with a heavy heart, we are shutting Shyp down, ending operations effective immediately. I stared at a blank screen for more than ten minutes before I could even write that sentence
Many delivery startups are ramping up their operations with the likes of Amazon and Softbank backing them. The logistics world is not as flashy and easy as it seems. In a recent announcement on LinkedIn, Kevin Gibbon, founder of Shyp announced shutting down its operations.
He said, “Today, with a heavy heart, we are shutting Shyp down, ending operations effective immediately. I stared at a blank screen for more than ten minutes before I could even write that sentence.”
It’s hard for an entrepreneur to let go of the dream, passion and most of all, energy invested in the company. It’s even harder to learn and move on. With all that, it’s important to understand what made Kevin shut down his dream company and what delivery startups can learn from here
I Didn’t Listen
When Kevin founded Shyp in 2014, he got a terrific customer feedback. He made shipping easy as “two taps on a smartphone”. The idea resonated with the market. He said, “Our service took everything people disliked about shipping—from finding a box to waiting in line at the post office—and eliminated it.” With growth comes comparison. People started comparing the likes of Shyp with Uber. Which founder minds being compared with the likes of Uber? But then investors, fellow entrepreneurs, even random people on the internet started talking about the same.
Overtime he saw a lag in customer growth. “People close to me and the business began to warn that chasing consumers was the wrong strategy. After all, how often do consumers ship things? I didn’t listen,” he said
Growth is a trap
In his post he stated that after the company saw a lag in consumer growth, instead of changing the direction he rather tasked his team to scale up geographically and innovate to penetrate the consumer market. While he did listen to the advice of not running after the consumers but that was too late.
“To this day, I’m in awe of the vigor the team possessed in tackling a 200-year-old industry. But, growth at all costs is a dangerous trap that many startups fall into, mine included.”
Popular but Unprofitable
After two years, Kevin shifted from the individual consumer base to a more profitable sector, small medium enterprises (SMBs). He further decided to keep ‘popular but unprofitable’ business running. “This was a mistake—my mistake,” he said. What he learnt here was – large corporations have the budget to try new product categories, for startups it generally proves to be “irresponsible”.
After looking at the number of people that were using Shyp on eBay, Kevin decided to integrate the services on the platform. After seeing real revenue fall in and in the hope of surviving, they closed operations in San Francisco – it was the most profitable and popular market the company had. The consumers, the employees, and the partners didn’t look much happy from the decision, stated Kevin.
“The more changes we made on the platform, the better the numbers looked,” he said. But that wasn’t enough to cover up the earlier mistakes. The company would have been in a better state if they had done this earlier, he added.
With that said, he apologised to the investors customers, partners and everyone personally or professionally associated with the company.
“I’m sorry to the hundreds of thousands of customers who validated our idea by shipping enough packages to circle the earth half a million times over. I’m sorry to all of the investors and partners who have always rooted for us, and whose advice I sometimes ignored. I am grateful and humbled to have met and worked with you all.”