In September 2022, we invested in Shippeo — a pioneer in supply chain visibility. Shippeo provides predictive and real-time visibility into goods delivery with an AI-based platform that aggregates data from hundreds of sources in real-time to calculate the ETA and status of different shipments with 98% accuracy.
We’re excited to be sitting down with co-founder and CEO, Pierre Khoury to shine a spotlight on Shippeo and share his advice for aspiring founders.
Share the story of Shippeo, how did it come to fruition?
We started as a team of six co-founders, we all came from private equity before and had observed both the size and the fragmentation of the transportation market. We saw a huge opportunity for digitalisation to transform the industry, but with no industry experience, we had no clue where to begin. We built our prototype and tested this with shippers and manufacturers to get their thoughts. The shippers encouraged us to focus on visibility. They wanted to inform customers and suppliers throughout the process of their shipment to help mitigate any problems along the way.
The black box in transportation was an obvious pain point. One common to large enterprises, and full transparency in real-time (thanks to GPS) seemed the best way to tackle this considering the market fragmentation in terms of IT, geographies and use cases.
We loved the thesis and began building our first product. The industry is complex and we faced a lot of hurdles, but it was fantastic to build something brand new to help every party work more efficiently.
All the original six founders are still here, and we now have a team of 220 people, it’s been a great journey so far!
What has been the hardest lesson learned so far?
The hardest lesson is learning that technology always needs humans for supply chain management and transportation.
We had thought that digitalisation and focusing on technology would be enough to help fix the industry, but the reality is that, alongside providing a platform, you still need to work closely with all your stakeholders — but this is also what makes it interesting.
It’s exciting working with real people, customers, and carriers to help them in their day-to-day life.
I think we’ve got the balance right, and we see this as a journey to work together with all stakeholders to transform the transportation space. We’ve been able to turn this difficulty into a strong asset.
What has been the biggest surprise during your time at Shippeo?
When you start a journey, some things look impossible — like growing in terms of revenue or expanding across markets. It’s easy to think it’s just a dream, that you’ll never make it. But by taking steps, putting one foot in front of the other and working hard, you can get there. It can be a surprise to know you can deliver what you set out to.
It’s important to have ambitious goals because, even when they look unreachable at the beginning, with enough work, you can achieve them.
What advice would you offer other growth companies about financing their businesses?
We have always been very prudent with cash management. I think we have always been above plan in terms of cash — it is very important to precisely forecast your cash, especially in a growth company at the loss-making stage. You have to be stringent!
It’s important to start early and not at the last minute, leave yourself enough time to find the right fit with your investor. It’s like a marriage. Yes, money is important, but having financial partners you’re aligned with in terms of values, culture, and vision is key too.
There will always be changes to the plan — both good and bad — and it’s important to be in sync with your partners, this is one of the reasons we decided to work with Atempo.
What has been Shippeo’s biggest achievement so far?
We’re most proud of two things. The first thing is the team we have gathered — it’s all about people. We’re immensely proud of the culture, and the people we have. We’re happy to see our people grow as Shippeo grows, as people and individuals — like caterpillars, transforming into something great!
Secondly, I think Shippeo has helped transform the transportation industry.
From being a pioneer in the space, in just a few years we have been able to shape the industry into something more digital and help shippers, carriers, and all the stakeholders to work in a more modern way.
It’s rewarding to see everyone working differently and to know that we’re helping such a critical industry operate with more efficiency and resilience.
Any tips for aspiring founders?
Two things: stay true to yourself. There are as many ways of behaving as there are humans on the planet — there’s no one right way, so don’t waste time trying to act like Steve Jobs or someone else.
People will always trust integrity. Work with your gut and stay true to your personality.
The second thing is to dream big. Don’t set limits. You can deliver fantastic things by believing in yourself.