The Startupbootcamp Alumni Spotlight is a series of interviews profiling innovative and inspiring stories from our extended network at SBC. This time, our spotlight is focused on our 2014 Program Alumnus from Amsterdam – SendCloud.
Cost- and time- inefficient shipping has inspired three friends with an online store to launch SendCloud. They started the company in 2012 and joined our Startupbootcamp program in Amsterdam in 2014.
SendCloud helps online retailers to grow, by optimizing their shipping process. With more than 25 plugins for all popular shop systems and an API, online stores can connect their store to SendCloud and ship easy, fast and efficient. Via SendCloud’s shipping tool, they can offer several shipping options within their checkout and automize their fully shipping- and returns process. Partnerships with a large range of shipping providers such as DHL, PostNL, DPD, UPS, bpost and others, allow SendCloud to offer multiple shipping options at compelling prices. This way every online store can serve (inter)national customers and grow their business further.
In 5 years SendCloud has grown to one of the fastest growing tech businesses in Europe. They are active in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, and France, with a team of 45 employees and two offices in Eindhoven (Headquarters) and Munich.
Q: Tell us your founding story, how did you get started?
A: Back in 2012, we had an online store selling smartphone- and tablet accessories. The business started to grow and so did the orders. Every day we were facing the same problem: we had to ship lots of packages and needed to fill in all addresses and contact details manually to create shipping labels.
Inefficient shipping made it harder for us to survive and no other business was fixing the problem at that time efficiently, and that is why we started to build our own customized solutions.
Q: What is the problem you’re trying to solve?
A: With more than 500 billion euros in revenue, e-commerce in Europe is a big industry. A great part of this turnover unfortunately still goes to shipping. Therefore, daily operations in the e-commerce field are becoming more challenging. Consumers decide where and at what time their package should be delivered. The biggest players such as Amazon and Zalando can make arrangements with carriers or even start their own logistical service to offer the best shipping options. The greater part of all online retailers simply can’t. Flexible and fast (international) shipping is the new standard. When online stores do not offer multiple shipping options in their checkout, free shipping or deals against compelling prices, they lose conversion, which is making it hard for them to survive.
SendCloud offers a ‘shipping tool’ solution, which levels the playing field for retailers competing in the European market. We have partnerships with major international carriers including DHL, UPS, DPD and domestic carriers such as PostNL, bpost and Austrian Post. We make sure retailers directly integrate with the shipping providers and merge all shipping options in the checkout of the online stores. This allows retailers to offer consumers the best and most cost efficient shipping (and return) options, enabling them to compete with larger retailers on a global scale.
Q: How did you come across Startupbootcamp in the first place? What was your experience with the program?
A: At the start of 2014 we were looking for a first investment round in order to find new partners, expand to Europe and increase brand knowledge. We found Startupbootcamp and signed-up for a pitching round. We were invited to pitch and we got selected for the program. We are glad we were a part of your program because we met many people and learned a lot by sharing knowledge and expertise with other members, mentors, and advisers.
Q: What have you been working on since Startupbootcamp?
A: Since Startupbootcamp we have improved our shipping tool and expanded our business to more countries. This was also possible with a new funding round by TIIN Capital and BOM. At first we made a connection with some carriers to automate the shipping process. In the meantime, we improved the software to be an all-in-one shipping tool that optimizes the checkout of online stores, automates the shipping process by creating automatic shipping labels and Track & Trace emails and make it possible to automate the returns process for online retailers and their customers.
When we entered Startupbootcamp, we were active in the Netherlands and started to expand to Belgium. Since then we saw opportunities in many countries and at the moment we are active in three more countries – Germany, Austria, and France.
We also got new partnerships with new carriers. At the moment we work together with many international and domestic carriers such as PostNL, DHL, DPD, UPS, Fadello Same Day Delivery, bpost, Austrian post, and Collisimo.
We have also received some awards. When we were a part of Startupbootcamp, we already received the Deloitte Rising Star Award. Last year, we also made it into the top 15 fastest growing Tech companies as selected by TheNextWeb. We also received a 5-star review in the Emerce100 list, and our users rate us with an average of 9,1 on Trustpilot.
At the moment we are nominated for the FD New Champion Award, the Computable Awards for best startup in NL and Innovation Award of the Trophées du Commerce France – Pays – Bas, an award for companies that improve trade between the Netherlands and France.
Q: What is the most important lesson you have learned since founding your company?
A: Two years ago we opened an office in Berlin. At that moment we did not have enough knowledge about the market in Germany and we thought we would have a good market fit. That was not the right moment for us, so we left the German market and decided to start from scratch to work on a comeback with German employees at our Dutch office. We hired the right people with the right knowledge and passion. After some success, we opened a new office in Munich a year ago.
The most important tip we would like to share is to find, recruit, motivate and challenge your employees every day in order to make the biggest success of your business.
Q: What’s next for you this year?
A: Online shopping is expanding exponentially around the world as consumers embrace the ‘anytime, anywhere’ mentality fueled by the latest advancements in e-commerce. This creates chances further in and even outside of Europe. SendCloud is on a mission to create a European shipping network. In 2017 we will keep innovating our service to meet the needs of all e-commerce entrepreneurs, and want to introduce SendCloud in new countries. We will open a new office in France in 2017 as well to further improve our service there.
Know any interesting commerce and retail startups? Check out our upcoming Startupbootcamp Amsterdam Commerce program here