Delhi-based 3PL startup Shiprocket claims 2 Lakh+ daily shipments across 29K pin codes and more than 220 countries and has over 1 Lakh sellers leveraging its services
The startup says that its 600+ workforce drives its growth even during tough times
It is building a positive work culture, nurturing professional growth and aims to bring in more talent
When startups are hard-hit by a global economic slowdown — such as the recent pandemic and subsequent lockdowns that broke industries and devastated the Indian macroeconomic conditions for months — not many are expected to bounce back and thrive. But when they do, magic happens.
For the cofounders of Delhi-based 3PL service provider and ecommerce enabler Shiprocket, the credit goes to the startup’s decade-long culture of sustainability (built on reading the market well and staying ahead of the competition). That and the sheer grit of its people stood them in good stead during 2020-2021, two turbulent years of the pandemic.
Globally, the logistics sector, including the 3PL market, saw a steep decline throughout the initial year due to trade restrictions and prolonged lockdowns. The global 3PL market size was around $961.8 Bn in 2020, and analysts estimated a CAGR of 1.5% in 2021. But owing to the increasing consumer demand, the exponential growth of ecommerce and D2C brands and the thrust on digital technology, this segment is reporting a strong recovery in India and abroad.
Working in this segment, Shiprocket has been paving its growth path all along. In 2021, the logistics startup raised $185 Mn in Series E, led by marquee investors such as Zomato, Singapore’s Temasek, among others. This year, Shiprocket is on an acquisition spree of sorts as it acquired majority stakes in tech-powered Glaucus Supply Chain, martech startup Wigzo, B2B logistics platform Rocketbox and Saas-based Logibricks. In brief, Shiprocket has hit the headlines for all the right reasons.
Of course, the cofounders — Saahil Goel, Gautam Kapoor, Akshay Ghulati and Vishesh Khurana — sensed how ecommerce would make the world go round in the wake of the pandemic and the subsequent growth in the 3PL space much before the lockdowns were eased. But they also knew that the secret to building a super successful company lay in hiring and retaining the right talent.
“Shiprocket’s upward growth trajectory is a testament to its highly spirited workforce,” said Saahil Goel, CEO and cofounder of Shiprocket. Currently, the startup claims 2 Lakh+ daily shipments across 29K+ pin codes and over 220 countries. It also claims to have onboarded more than 1 Lakh sellers who leverage its services. In a previous interaction with Inc42, the 3PL firm said that it clocked $49.7 Mn in revenue in FY21. Additionally, between FY20 and FY22, the number of sellers onboarded by Shiprocket increased by a whopping 278.4%, it claimed.
“Our employees’ trust, commitment and hard work have brought us where we are today. We are proud to have an unrivalled performance culture at Shiprocket,” said Goel.
What Has Triggered Shiprocket’s Stupendous Success
A decade ago, the startup started its journey as KartRocket, a B2B service provider with a bouquet of offerings, including web and mobile site design, payments and sales solutions integration and shipping services. The aim was to create a robust ecosystem for SMEs by helping them build digital interfaces and guiding them through digital transformation.
It was an exciting time for businesses keen to disrupt existing markets by leveraging the potential of online shopping. Both shoppers and merchants were quick to adopt the ecommerce model for all things up for sale, from movie tickets and hotel bookings to fashion items, gadgets and even daily essentials.
However, the startup soon realised that sellers would require more than websites to succeed in Internet commerce. So in 2017, it pivoted to a state-of-the-art 3PL platform called Shiprocket, offering 360-degree shipping and logistics solutions to ecommerce companies.
The pivot and the expansion plan meant Shiprocket had to bring in more people with the right skill set and vision. It quickly scaled its team of five to 30 and currently employs more than 600, said Goel. With rapid growth on the cards, the startup will onboard more people as and when it is required.
According to Goel, fresh recruits can bring in more value and may soon become growth drivers if a company is open to new ideas. “We have a flat organisation, and our employees share an approachable rapport with the founders,” he added.
Incidentally, a Salesforce report shows that employees who feel that their voices are heard are 4.6 times more likely to perform their best. This also creates a healthy environment for nurturing new ideas, solutions and talent.
As important as it may be to keep employees happy and the workplace stimulating, the first step for any employer is to find people whose work ethic and aspirations align with their own. Although an appropriate skill set often serves all practical purposes, it does not always guarantee long-term retention or professional growth. So what are Shiprocket’s core selection criteria to make it a win-win for all?
“Our success mantra is to ‘get ship done’. Our employees share our entrepreneurial zeal and tech-savvy outlook to ensure high-quality outcomes at all levels. We aim to hire and build employee capabilities holistically for a future-ready business,” said Goel.
To develop the leaders of tomorrow, the startup has many learning and development programmes in place. For instance, it claims to hold executive coaching sessions for the top management based on their performance in Hogan Assessment, a detailed personality test. Middle-tier professionals are encouraged to opt for the Leadership Excellence and Acceleration Program (LEAP). LEAP is a 12-month cohort-based online programme where employees learn leadership and management skills.
“We are committed to helping our employees in their career development and have a flexible work arrangement for those opting for professional courses,” added Goel.
Another thing worth noting is Shiprocket’s relaxed work culture. As all work and no play can make work monotonous and stressful, it has introduced many fun activities like team lunches, festival celebrations and team outings to help people take a break from the work routine now and then. Just like any other startup, Shiprocket also holds a monthly town hall for review meetings so that people can ask questions, clear doubts and easily engage with the executives.
Reimagining Work For The New World Order
When the pandemic hit the world two years ago, it shook the workplaces and forced companies to reimagine the work routine. ‘Work from home’ emerged as the new work culture; micro-management fell by the wayside, and mental health benefits were added to employee welfare to prevent stress and burnout. As a new-age company keen to sync with people’s policies worldwide, Shiprocket, too, has adopted several measures to ensure its employees’ safety and well-being.
To begin with, the startup shifted all its operations online, be it hiring or scaling or daily work. “And it was not too difficult for new or existing workers,” said Goel. “We are a tech-driven company, and virtually hiring the tech talent was not a challenge as we were utilising all means of virtual communication such as Zoom, Google Meet and MS Teams.”
Shiprocket has now adopted a hybrid model (a mix of work from home and work from the office) to offer greater flexibility to its workforce.
A recent McKinsey report shows that the Covid-19 pandemic has propelled faster automation and artificial intelligence (AI) adoption in workplaces. This has helped tech-powered service providers like Shiprocket with multilevel scope to leverage AI.
“We have an AI-powered system that keeps track of each employee’s performance, right from the interview to exit. It also gets employee feedback confidentially and helps us prioritise the initiatives that drive people’s engagement,” said Goel.
Interestingly, the cut-throat, high-pressure work culture has undoubtedly taken a back seat with an increasing emphasis on work-life balance and mental health in the wake of the pandemic. Today, the global attrition rate is highest compared to the past two decades, thanks to the ‘Great Resignation’. This is not difficult to comprehend as an unprecedented health crisis has shifted our focus to families and friends and emotional and physical well-being. It has also compelled the corporate world to be more sensitive in its approach and create a positive work environment.
The success mantra is less complicated this time. It is all about nurturing a happy workforce and helping them grow, thus leading to better customer satisfaction. Today, the startup ecosystem in general is committed to building a new-age people culture to not only create a welcoming workplace but also a sustainable business, aiming for long term growth .