The Dion Guagliardo Podcast

#39 William On - Co-Founder of Shippit

May 23, 2023 William On Season 1 Episode 39
The Dion Guagliardo Podcast
#39 William On - Co-Founder of Shippit
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Shippit is Australia's leading multi-carrier shipping software and connects stores with the best courier at the time of purchase. Founded in 2014, William and his co-founder Rob, have grown the company to now have 175 employees and tens of millions of dollars in annual revenue.

They've raised over $100 million in capital with a valuation of over $300 million. Throughout the episode, William talks about the importance of pivoting in business, even if it means deviating from the original business model. Furthermore, he highlights the importance of building a strong culture, especially when you're building a fast-growing company.

If you enjoy the show, feel free to share it with family and friends and leave a five-star review.


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The company's growing, I need to evaluate myself whether or not I'm growing. I need to look at whether or not I'm deserve it in the role that I'm in, because you need to lead by example.

personal development is something that I've been trying to focus on over the last couple years because what I was finding was I was putting myself into people roles, which I had no expertise, and I was just like figuring it out. Guessing along the way type thing, and trying to get the expert in really early on would probably be one of the key pieces of advice I've got.

And you don't actually need to pay for someone like as you said at the start of this call, people just like talking and people like to help.


(Generic Introduction)

 Welcome to the Dion Guagliardo Podcast, where I interview business people who run or have sold businesses worth a few million dollars all the way through to billions of dollars. While most of my time is spent to managing investment portfolios for people after they've had a successful exit. I've always been fascinated by the entire process and hearing the insights that successful entrepreneurs and business people have learned along their.

At Fortress Family Office, we're an investment portfolio manager and we manage portfolios for high net worth families. If you'd like to know more about not only the way we approach investment markets by our philosophy on life and business, feel free to subscribe to my weekly insights note. Go to www.fortressfamilyoffice.com and hit subscribe.

(Episode Introduction)

 In this episode I interview William on co-founder of Shippit. Shippit as Australia's leading multi-carrier shipping software and connects stores with the best courier at the time of purchase. Founded in 2014, William and his co-founder Rob, have grown the company, to now have 175 employees and tens of millions of dollars in annual revenue.

They've raised. Over a hundred million dollars in capital with a, valuation of over 300 million. great story, great company. Throughout the episode, William talks about the importance of pivoting in business, even if it means deviating from the original business model. And furthermore, he talks about and highlights the importance of building a strong culture, especially when you're building a fast growing company.

Really great insights. Really enjoyed talking to William. Fantastic podcast. if you like the interview, Feel free to share it with family and friends and leave a five star review.


William, thanks for joining the show.

Thanks for having me.

firstly, just tell us a little bit about, your business and then a little bit about your background and how you, you sort of started that journey.

Yeah, sure. I've known my co-founder Rob for 20 odd years. We met at the first day of uni, at U N S W. we were studying the same degree. It's a pretty small cohort. They only had 25 people, four or five years ahead of us with Mike and Scott from Atlassian, with, business and it a co-op scholarship.

And I like, I like to talk about that because as at least it's a starting point because people get a sense of the foundation of our company. but once I left U N S W, I decided that I liked it and I went down the path of doing management consulting. So I joined, Deloitte, which was a really good place to start your foundations.

I learned everything from. How to build an Excel model, build PowerPoints, talk to CEOs, really well-rounded skills, and, really focused on retail banking. And I was really at that cusp of the retail banking technology transformation in 2003. My first job was at at C b a doing NetBank version one.

so that kinda gives you a feel for like, like my early, my early, introduction to enterprise technology. whereas my co-founder Rob, he took more of a sales and marketing path. So he joined Proctor and Gamble, out in Singapore. and he focused on consumer data and insight and he headed up like a brand, like Head and Shoulders for Southeast Asia as an

example. And it kind of gives you a flavor for like the left brain, right brain thinking between myself and Rob. I'm like the management consultant. What's the plan? Work backwards. What are the goals? How do we achieve it? Whereas Robbie is like, what does the customer want? Let's think big picture. Like, oh, you're solving a small thing.

How do you solve it off for the masses? And so I'd say that like those two things came together and we realized that we were actually quite a formidable team. And then in 20, in 2015, I had a bad delivery experience buying something online. and I said to, Rob, I said, mate, I got this Dyson delivered to the office.

It was supposed to be delivered to home. Something broken here because I had to drive my car to the PWC office where I was working at the time, like this big vacuum down. And we, we took a very first principal's view of the world and we were like, if you look at e-commerce, The merchandising or the, the shop front is, was being commoditized by the likes of Shopify and Magento payments was being standardized by Braintree, PayPal, addon, Stripe.

And then the final frontier was logistics. So like retailers spent all this money to get you to part ways with your cash, but then they hand it over to a carrier and then it disappears off the face of the earth in terms of job done. And so what we realized was that this fragmentation was actually right for disruption because retailers want to focus on marketing, product and sales and they don't want to focus on the backend stuff.

And that's where the genesis of Shippit became. and the product that we built is effectively a integration layer that connects. Close to 50 sales channels. So warehouse management systems, pointer sales, e-commerce platforms to a network of over 200 carriers. And so carriers are the, the couriers or doing the deliveries.

And we have a matchmaking algorithm that sits in between taking that data and matching it to the best carrier. And our pitch to our customers, which our retailers are, will save up to 20% on your shipping costs with a multi-carrier solution. we improve operational efficiency. One a p i one workflow, global access to carriers, and then improving customer satisfaction.

So we look after the notifications engine, post-purchase experience tracking, SMSs, and the like.

And so before that, what was the, you talked about having a bad retail experience. so like you say, the, the retailers are really focused on the transaction and then the other stuff has to be done. It has to be delivered. But that was less of a focus and obviously problematic, especially for the end, customer on the.

retailer side. Yeah, the buyer. Yeah. Thanks. and, and what's the, the pitch from that perspective to the retail that makes it so compelling,

For a retailer to offer a product like Shippit? Well, we, we actually sit behind the scenes, so our customer is the merchant, and so we do offer live quoting at the checkout, which means you can have DoorDash or Uber do the delivery and that can be delivered instantaneously. And we provide the delivery option at checkout or we can actually just sit behind the scenes.

And if it's a standard delivery, express delivery where just the algorithm that chooses it on behalf of the merchant. But really the magic comes after the purchases happened, where you get. All of the customer experience stuff that Shippit offers. Live tracking for gps tracked orders, single tracking experience for, receivers to be able to then know exactly where their parcels are at any given point.

And then they get notifications on when there's delays. So, for example, if it's, if we know on average it takes one day to get from Sydney to Melbourne and it's two days in, we will tell the merchant, uh, we'll tell the receiver, Hey, it's been delayed and this is one of the reasons why.

Yeah. Okay. That makes sense. when you started the business, you obviously had a vision for what it would look like now and fast forward, I mean, you started 8, 9, 10 years ago is about

Yeah. Eight years ago, 2015.

ago. Okay. So you had that vision of what it would look like, how, how far from that?

Is it 

Yeah. Massively. in 2015, What we were trying to, the first iteration of ship, it was a on-demand carrier, so we were actually focused on three hour delivery, not too dissimilar from, a Sherpa or a Uber or a back then it was, hatch Go Catch. Do you remember the taxi app?

yeah. 

And then we were building this platform to allow for on-demand deliveries.

Time slotted between 7:00 AM and 10:00 PM at night. You can, as a user, nominate a three hour window and we'll get it delivered in that three hour window. But the first customer that we launched with was a retailer in Sury Hills, suburban Sydney. she was a high-end, lifestyle seller of homeware products called the Minimalist.

I remember selling to her, like her, like right in front of her and. we offered our plugin for free we asked her how many deliveries she did a month and she said, oh yeah, I do about one to 2000 a month. And we were like, great, you are a perfect client because high-end goods, time slotted delivery just makes sense.

And then it was over the first weekend that we didn't get any orders and we're like, hang on, this is weird. Like how can people aren't like choosing us as a delivery option? The second week when we went live, we actually quoted free delivery. So we, it meant that we would absorb the cost of delivery and we only like did one or two shipments.

And then we went to revisit the customer. They said to us, Hey will, like, the reason why you getting delivery is because when people live near us, they come to the store and they buy from us. And that's the early time, time slot delivery works where it's within 20, 30 kilometers and they're like, holy shit.

Like 98% of the market is actually standard delivery, like one to five business days. So from there, we quickly changed a business model to focus on being every option at checkout, not just one option. And then one of our marquee customers, Harvey Norman, our, our first enterprise customer, they sat down with us and we coil the solution.

So in the old days, how they would work is an order comes in online, it goes to a store. They'll go pick it. Someone sits there with an Australia Post portal types it all in manually sticks on a label. And so back then our system would automate that whole process. So the store staff could really focus more on the sales in store, and then they can do the, the, the fulfillment at like odd times because they don't need to sit there and just type in labels anymore.

So the, the business pivoted from a three hour delivery service provider to doing all the different types of deliveries. And that's where we are now. So we look after customers of all shapes and sizes. the rolodexs of West Rolodexs of Westfield, I'd say like Kmart, big W, target, Sephora, Nike, Harvey, Norman Cotton on like all the big guys.

And then also a long tail of small to medium, retailers as well, who've got different needs. But yeah.

Yeah. And in terms of that, that growth that's come through, I see you guys have, you know, obviously growing organically, but also starting to acquire other businesses in recent times. Is is that a, obviously it's concerted approach to, to do both? one have more, you, you tend towards more than one than the other?

Yeah. So yeah, our, our thinking behind that has been, the capital markets in 2015 are very different to the capital markets of 2020 and then now of 2023. Right. And I would say when we started our business, there weren't too many sources of capital at the time. The superannuation companies weren't funding VCs.

I would say that happened in like 20 18, 20 19.

so raising capital for us was quite difficult. So we had to really prove our straps in organic growth. And as I mentioned to you before, our customer segments are both enterprise and SM e because the enterprise retailers have a long sale cycle. And so you need to try to offset the longer sale cycle with small to medium businesses, which are effectively our run rate business.

And then we were one of the lucky beneficiaries of covid. So that massive structural change where you and I were working from home, e-commerce was like huge. Over that period. It was like 30, 40, 50% as a percentage of total retail sales during Covid. It's currently near around 16. And so that structural change has made that we were able to grow really quickly because our revenue model is a transaction fee as well as a subscription fee.

So as the market grows, we grow as well. And then I would say that over the last 12, 24 months, there's been a bit of a correction. the correction in the sense that we're still 30, 40% plus pre covid numbers in terms of volume. But at Shippit what we've been able to do is write on that growth and really raise capital along the way, which has helped us fuel our expansion plans and our expansion have looked further abroad in terms of different territories and different products.

So your question, unlike is it organic growth or m and a, we have a North Star in 2025 of hitting 200 million deliveries without waste. What that means is 200 million deliveries going through our platform on an annualized basis. We're currently sitting on about 75, so what that means is doubling year on year for the next three years.

So we will always look at organic and acquisition. We're fortunate enough now that we've got a pretty strong balance sheet to allow us to be able to fund some of those acquisitions. But the way that we analyze the market is very much in terms of the e-commerce value chain. From checkout through to the person who's giving you the parcel, what are all the different products that exist along that value chain?

And do we want to build by partner? That's really how we think about it. And so one of the acquisitions we made was Premonition, which is the last Mile routing app, and those guys have been in business for 10 years. There was no way that we could build that business from scratch again.

So it made sense for us to make an acquisition there. But then, other parts of our business where small and medium business fulfillment. So pick, pack label, that's something that we're building, right? And so the order fulfillment process, which allows you as a home home lifestyle retailer, you can use our system to help improve the efficiencies of being able to get your deliveries out the door.

(show notes)

And so I read a book, beyond the Hockey Stick for Growth. what they looked at were the a hundred companies that were, multi-generational. and it very much follows what they call the power curve. So in the, and one of the themes that they saw was turning m and a or programmatic m and a as a way to grow.

And I think the benchmark was don't target companies that are more than 20% of the size of your business. Cause you find, you'll find it hard to swallow. And so if I use that as the framework in terms of. How big we'd look at. And then secondly, what we look at is different products that sit along that value chain.

Yep. And where it makes sense to build your build and if it makes sense to acquire, because like you say, you can't, you couldn't replicate that if you tried for the same amount of money. Well, obviously it makes sense to, to buy, especially with their synergies. Right.

Yes. And, and like it's just classic return on investment and how quickly you want to realize some of that revenue. So at Shippit we've got a pretty good like operating system as a company where we do annual quarterly planning and we always focus on what the customer wants and what the customer problems are and work backwards from that.

And then we look at what the solve is. And the solve could be we build it ourselves or we'll buy it.

Yeah. And, and you, you spoke before about how much capital markets have changed in the last sort of few years, especially the last couple of years. but I also note that you've raised quite a substantial amount of money, sort of last year I think was, was it 65 million or something like that?

Yeah. Yeah. We've, raised to date, we've raised a hundred million since, uh, 

we 

Okay. Yeah. And was it a valuation or a pre-money? Valid. About 300 last time or something along that. Okay. So in terms of, and that's at a tough time, right? I mean, you're talking, if we're talking to about a year ago, may, when you've raised last or.

Yeah. Well, you'll, you'll realize you'll soon realize that what happens in the media is about six months delayed from when the

actual deal happens. So we actually got the deal away, at the end of 2021. 2021, yeah. 

okay. So that the timing is, quite different because that, that few months does make a massive difference between when articles came out, which was around April, may, versus by the sounds of it, when the, when the deal was done was end of 21. Where in between that time things have changed quite dramatically.

So my question was going to be, how do you get that done in such a difficult time? And the answer is,

Well, I think, yeah, yeah, I think that like, cuz I'm still, my focus at Shippit is really around growth, investor relations, like capital, right? And so, the way I've looked at it is companies with great unit economics are still being funded. Companies who can do it for like highly efficiently.

So looking at key metrics such as the Ruler 40, the magic number, like these are the things that, Both public and private markets are really, really attuned to right now. I still get the market reports from most of the major banks and the equities that have been doing well over the last six months have been those who have been going like efficiently.

So I'm thinking of the likes of zero WiseTech ready tech from a public perspective where 40 sits over the 30 mark. Right. So I still think that there's a lot of capital out there to be deployed. I still think that, fund managers need to make their management fee somewhere somehow by deploying and they're focused on companies that are doing it efficiently.

yeah. Okay. So that makes sense. I mean from and from that perspective. When you go to market, what are the key things you are looking for from a VC when you, when you raise? Because it's one thing to raise money, but it's really important presumably to who you partner with.

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Yeah, a hundred percent. Like one of the piece of advice I got given. Very early on was treated like a marriage cuz these people will be around the table for the next 10, 20 years. my, myself and Rob, we have a philosophy of not being the smartest people in the room. We A, don't have a logistics background.

B, we're not technical founders. And see we have a superpower. I think getting the best team around us, synthesizing what they're good at, and then coming up with the plan. And so if you look at our investor set from 2015, we had one investor who was willing to fund the whole round. But myself and Rob were very deliberate around looking for someone who had go-to-market experience.

logistics experience, retail experience and funds management. And then we had like lawyers, et cetera, et cetera. So our angel round was very typical of the way of working that we've got in terms of assembling a team. And then as we started to grow over the last couple years, next big round we did was really focus in Southeast Asia because we're based here now, who's here that can give us access to market knowledge to customers, to, ecosystem partners.

And then thirdly, who could have a balance sheet that could probably ride out the next couple of years for us. And so that's a approach that we've taken and we're fortunate enough that we've had pretty good, business fundamentals because we had started the company in a capital constrained environment, as I mentioned in 2015.

So as much as 2021 was easier than 20 15, 20 15 was tough cuz. There was a handful of like, funds out there and they all said 

Yeah. 

Yeah. 

Right. Yeah, it's interesting, isn't it? I bet they all wish they sort of heard. Yes. Now, but, that's just part of the journey. Right.

yeah, yeah. 

and in terms of, your strengths, you talked about how, you know, one of your superpowers there is to build the right team around you and that sort of stuff. what would you describe as your biggest strengths and how do you and Rob as co-founders compliment each other 

I was trained as a management consultant, so our operating system is agan chart and getting people on milestones and dates and getting them bought into the vision is something that I'm very big on. strategy is very much 90% people, like you can come up with the ideas, but how do you get people bought into what you're doing as being the right thing?

I think I've got, a really good, strength in that. And I think the pattern matching, so looking at previous experiences, other industries, they're things that I'm really focused on because I always had this attitude of someone solved this before, we're not the only ones that have solved this. So like other markets, other industries, surely there's a way that's been done.

Cause what we're doing is at rocket science, whereas Rob, he is more very customer, like, very customer-centric. he's looking two to three years ahead, where is the market going? And, if I was to put myself into the customer shoes, would they take, would they buy this product or not? Right? And so I think that the, those are the complimentary skills that we've got in the sense that he's got the right brain creative pushing the boundaries, in terms of where our customers are going to buy from us.

Whereas me, I've got the pragmatic, what's the plan? How do we get there? And to be honest, like what's the shortest pass pos possible to 

Yep, 

value? 

yep. Makes complete sense. cause the execution part is so critical, right? It's one thing to have all the vision, but to be able to execute the plan. 

Yeah. I think, 

things get executed.

yeah, I think like a lot of people say, oh, like execution is 70, 80% of the battle. But I really like, I'm not sure about that. I think like you need to have both, to get the buy-in. and that being said though, like my cell phone, Rob also flip roles sometimes, like, it's really

strange depending on the domain, or, depending on how much like research we've done into a specific topic where like, I'm devil's advocate, or he'll be devil's advocate and then he'll sometimes build a plan in terms of what the, what the stepping stones to get to an outcome are.

Me being in Southeast Asia as an example, like I'm seeing the future of e-commerce here, social commerce, TikTok shop, like these things haven't hit Australia yet, and I imagine they will. So like now I'm bringing that information into the company and it's just interesting how the, the ebbs and flows of us as founders changes

as not only the macro environment, but also what the company demands of us.

And how different is it being over there now because you're in Singapore, is that right?

Yeah, that's right. Yeah. I've been here 

And yeah. So how, how different is that experience, you know, running the business or that part of the business at the very least? From from there.

Yeah. I think, our chairman David Gordon, he joined us about 18 months ago and he said, well, like one of you guys need to go there because, his analogy was, it can look like a noodle smell, like a noodle tastes like, but it can, it might not taste like a noodle. How will you know unless you're there.

Right. And so, I came here in November and I would say my number one focus here is like, I'm very good at zero to one. So basically building a company from like scratch into something that someone can pick up and scale. And so what, that's what I'm doing here in Singapore and our focus is on the Southeast Asian market.

We made an acquisition last year of a company called Logistic. They were very helpful in being able to help us connect all the last mile carriers. So we've done that over the last month or so. And we've now got a product which services the entire, region. And I think your question specifically on managing the company, a couple things that have been really beneficial.

I'm at arm's length now, so I can be like super objective and like I will spend time reviewing documents that are sent to me and really put on that critical thinking hat, which I don't think that I could otherwise have while sitting in ship at HQ in Sydney. Cuz I think it's very easy to get caught up in a lot of the environment, the people aspect of things.

Whereas if I'm just looking at the, the slides and the numbers that's telling me something and I can, like, I can, I can really pro provide that objective view. So that's been a big tick.

yeah. Number two, I think that being on the ground like we've pivoted in the last couple months, like in terms of how we're going to market, I was very much focused on Singapore.

When I landed here, I was like, shit, it's such a small market here, actually. It's Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia. Like that's where we need to be. And so February one we launched in Malaysia after me being on the ground for three months. So that's been like a pretty big change for us. And then I think thirdly, there was no way that we could have gotten the traction here in Asia without me knowing some of the things I know now.

So not only is it markets, but it's also channels. So partnering closely with the likes of Shopify Shopline, and working with like the e-commerce, enablers, that's something that I think that would've been really difficult to do had I been in Australia.

Yeah. Do you think that that move is, you know, possibly the difference between success or failure when you do that sort of thing, or does it just reduces the, the time it takes to do things?

I'm not sure like there's a few different ways that I've seen this done, right? Like, I know Nick from after Pay, he spent like the first one one year in the US as they did that launch. I know Mike from Site Minder. He didn't move like he stayed in Australia and implanted a team on the ground.

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I think it changes by industry vertical and by product that you're selling. But to be quite honest, I think that like a founder needs to be the tip of the spear when it comes to go to market. It's very different when I'm sitting right in front of Nike in Singapore or Unicorn in Singapore and I'm selling them the product because they're like, holy shit, you're like the founder.

And then I can make changes to the commercial model on the spot. And I don't think that, as a, business development lead has got that flexibility, whereas for me, zero to one, I'm like, I just need any customer. Let's go. Right? And

yeah.

so,

But you're really getting to taste it and, oh, I guess at the end of the day, like, like your chairman said, you can taste the noodle, right? It's in, you are getting a real taste for that because you're on the ground and you can, you've got that sense of exactly how, how the lay of the land is.

Exactly. Yeah. So I think maybe to answer your question, it definitely accelerates things, right?

but we gave it a go for a year and a half without a founder being involved and we just didn't get the runs on the board and with like, oh shit, was it the Covid thing? Like cuz that was peak covid like here.

But having been on the ground now, I can just see the difference.

Okay. That's really interesting. and in terms of, you know, some of your weaknesses, how do you overcome those? And, and again, with you and Rob as co-founders, how, how do they offset each other?

I think, taking like 360 feedback has been something that's been like systematized at Shippit. And I take myself and Rob take feedback from the board and also our direct reports. And so we have a, like a people management, performance management framework where getting feedback from your peers and also those direct rep direct reports is crucial.

And that kind of stuff feeds into like your, your own personal development style. Like I would say that over the last eight years, our business has grown like year on year, a hundred percent year on year, right. For the last five years. now that we've come off the back of Covid, it's come back a little, but at the end of the day, like my philosophy is the company's growing year on year.

I need to grow year on year. And so does Rob and I like, as the company changes, the demands from me back then are very different to the demands of me now. And so we very much carved out the business to focus on what we're good at and not focus on things that we're bad at. And so if I was just to think about weaknesses in general, I think that like sometimes.

I fail to see the wood through the trees as I get really bogged down in the detail. I need some, a partner like Rob to extract me out and say, Hey look, you just need to take a step back and this is the goal that we're trying to achieve. and equally on that note, I would say that like having Rob and I, having a system in place for us to continue to spar every day, every week.

Like I talk to Rob more than I talk to my wife. first person in the morning, last person at night, 

yep. 

scares her, my wife. But again, it's like it is a marriage, right?

And 

so, 

absolutely.

and so, and it's the same thing with investors as well. Like I'll pick up the phone and I'll talk to them just to give me a sense check on like, am I crazy?

and so I think to overcome some of these things, it's being open and being honest about your, where you think you need to improve. 

And when you, yeah. When you talk about, you know, seeing, seeing the, the forest, the trees type thing and all that, that sort of, is that because you, are you a perfectionist? Is that, is that what gets you bogged down the detail? Or is there something else that like in from a, from that perspective, I just find that interesting.

Yeah, not at all. I'm Rob's the perfectionist. I'm just a, just get it done. But sometimes I can get caught up in the, minutiae of data where it becomes analysis paralysis and

like, and I might spend like a whole day looking at a model and like, I won't like come out of that. And it's like, hang on. Like what are we trying to achieve here?

Like, what are we trying to solve for? And sometimes I struggle to zoom out. but then now I've kind of course corrected by like also creating a bit of a system in my calendar where I've got like blocks of time where, hey, this is deep thinking time and this is time that I'm working with like clients and this is time that I'm working with the internal team.

And it's interesting now, I don't know if you've seen in Google Calendar, they, have a measurement on the bottom left where it's like, 

how much time is spending things and Yeah. And it's a really good tool because it allows you to adjust based on the demands of the business.

Yeah, because you're right, sometimes you get into that deep thinking sort of stuff, especially with data. you can get lost in the different insights you can gain and all those. But like you say, you've gotta come back a little bit sometimes go, well, hang on, what? Why not? That is all super interesting and you might get some sort of serendipitous insight that is fantastic, but you gotta step back sometimes and say, well actually we're not trying to solve that right now.

We'll, we'll look at that right now. What have we gotta do?

absolutely. Yeah.

what about in terms of decisions that you've made along the way? What, what are some of the, the critical decisions that you've made that have made all the difference?

Rob and I made a deliberate focus on people and culture very early on, so, I worked at Deloitte, pwc, these big engines and like as much as I loved them as companies to work for, like I didn't have total alignment to the values. And so a big focus on values and culture from day one. Like we've got five values that, at Shippit, they came from day one where we sated a pub and worked 'em out together.

And it's not only posters on the wall for us, it's brought into our recruitment process where stages of the recruitment process are geared towards certain values. Performance management. It's not just about like the metrics and how you've hit, and what you've hit in terms of hitting your numbers.

It's also how you delivered them against the values. these things, have been really important for us from the get-go and when people join us or when people interview or when I interview people to join ship. But the first question's, oh, what's the culture like? And I implore them to step outside and talk to someone.

Like that's the, like, that's the best way for, people to really understand, not from me, not from the posters on the war, but from the people. And so I think that's been a crucial, step in the business very early on. second one would be, Choosing the right people around you, not only from a work perspective, but also from a life partner perspective.

So having a wife that's super supportive, and being able to be that ear that's, objective to everything, I think that, that, like, at the end of the day, they're marrying you, the business and your business partners. and so making sure that like that also works in good symbiosis, I think is something that very people think about critically.

and then I would say like, the age old adage, and this is probably one of the other weaknesses I've had in the past, which is, higher slow fire, fast.

I've heard that around the traps many times, and I, it couldn't be any more true like having a. The wrong people in the seat.

Maybe they just need to be in a different seat or they might not be on the seat at all. It's figuring out that quickly versus trying to put the square peg in the round hole. I think that's, and I like, and I empathize with early stage founders as well, like I heard that when we started and I'm like, but you don't have a brand then in terms of companies.

So you kind of track talent. So like I get it like, oh, if I let this person go, I like any seat, anyone in the seat's better than no one in the seat. Like that mentality. I think that that kind of paralyzes you along the way and I think I could have gotten better at that over the last few years.

it's interesting because that's something that you really do, and I heard that when I first started my business, sort of back in 2007 and, and I heard it from an accountant and it was, it made so much sense, but it's also easier said than done.

It, it's you, you really, you've really gotta sort of, learn it by doing and experiencing as, as you progress to get better and better at it.

but it is quite profound and as simple as it is, really understanding that, makes all the difference, you know?

Yeah. And it's being deliberate about that stuff. Like we now, we've put in some talent mapping in the business, like looking at critical roles, looking at succession planning, like all of these, we've got our big boy pants on now, basically.

Yeah.

And, and so, because we a much bigger business, we've got like massive customers, which I mentioned earlier, which are relying on us as if we're like electricity or water, if we go off, operations go off.

So we're mission critical when it comes to software, and so we need to, we need to act like that as a company.

yeah. Okay. That's in, in terms of like some of the, the, the challenges you face, what would be a couple of the biggest challenges or mistakes that you've made along the way that you've sort of had to, correct.

( )

I think like many of them originate from people to be quite honest. 

and I would say the challenges over the last eight years has trying to evolve as an individual. Me in particular, like as I said to you, like the company's growing, I need to evaluate myself whether or not I'm growing. Like I need to look at whether or not I'm deserve it in the role that I'm in, to be quite frank, because you need to lead by example.

and personal development is something that I've been trying to focus on over the last couple years because what I was finding was I was putting myself into people roles, which in domains which I had no expertise, and I was just like figuring it out. Guessing along the way type thing, and trying to get the expert in really early on would probably be like one of the key pieces of advice I've got.

And you don't actually need to pay for someone like pe a as you said at the start of this call, people just like talking and people like to help. And so being able to tap into like people's authenticity and their expertise by picking up the phone is a piece of advice that I got handed down from my dad.

Right? Like, you don't ask, you don't get And so I think that, and so I think that being able to pick up the phone and talk to the experts who are able to help you with at least a framework or a way of thinking is something that I have like made proactive steps towards doing, like doing more at. And then I would say that being able to also take time off I think is a thing that like is underappreciated.

myself and Rob did mention, I did, I did mention that we focused on culture, we also focused on work-life balance. and what I mean by work-life balance, like isn't a nine to five thing, right? Like is if

Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's a hot topic when you start talking work-life balance. Cause everyone's got their own interpretation of what that means. 

Right. 

yeah. Whether you're a founder, there's no work-life balance,

right? 

Like, it's like it's actually how your life, the intertwining of work and life. And what's important at certain times is how 

I see things.

yep,

And so I think, like historically, I haven't ever like taken much time off, but then just to recharge the batteries, like go away.

Like it just gives you a fresh outlook on things, and gives, and it is really a, it's a marathon. It isn't a sprint. I'm historically a sprinter. I've gotten into longer distance riding now. Literally I have,

(clip)

yep. But it's a good metaphor for the journey, right? Like anything that, especially like you say, it's so easy, especially people who are driven it, it's and are ambitious. It, it's very natural to them to push, push, push. And there comes a point where it's not sustainable. And I think that that point, whatever you, whatever, whatever you wanna spend your time is, you know, probably fine because every, every minute you spend doing something is a choice.

but there comes a time when you're spending, it's like if you're doing exercise or weight, so you can work too hard. You need to give your body time to recover so that you don't overdo it. And it's the same with work. You need to work hard and all that sort of stuff, but if you go too much, you are not, it's not gonna be sustainable.

I even worked out myself years ago that every quarter I needed to take a long weekend and just like go away for a few days. And it didn't need to be much. It was a weekend plus a day. But having those sort of little, mini breaks along the way was really, really important in terms of being able to know that there was a stop.

And so you could go hard and work hard and do everything you needed to do, but you knew there was a little stop and that was just enough to take a breath if you like. but then it also let you, re reload for the next. Section and just, it was just that little psychological shift in the way of doing it.

Let you breathe and let you keep doing what you do even better.

It's true, and it's the, the irony is like, in software development like practices today where it's about two week sprints, it doesn't really afford you that break. Right. Unless you're deliberate about it and we'll, like Rob had his first child when we started Shippit literally in that year, and so he would make it a point to leave work at four 30 for bath time.

I never understood that. Now I've got an 18 month old and I'm out 

the door at 30 so I can be, you know, build a relationship with my daughter.

but then later on, like you'll pick it up in like later in the night or you'll pick it up on the weekend and just, it is what it is. But then having those clear markers in terms of being able to break is crucial, I think.

that stuff really matters because what people often don't realize until later is that, you know, With your kids, especially, it doesn't matter what you do, whatever profession, high performer or not, at the end of the day, your kids are only small for a very short period of time, and then they're not, you know what I mean?

Those couple of years, once you get through that first couple of years, and my kids all grown up. I've got four kids, they're all over 20

now. 

So they're sort of all, I think we've only got one at home these days, so with nearly empty nesters. Right? 

but once they go from being, you know, one or two and they then become toddler of small kids, et cetera, you don't get that back again.

So it's a very fleeting moment in their life and it's really important. And I, and I respect people giving that the time that it needs no matter what you're doing, because you don't get that back. Like it's, it's, it's fleeting. 

It's true. And like even little things like I picked up recently, like I was, I, I was in a habit of like being on my phone while looking after my kid and I'm like, I just gotta put this away. Right? Like little things like that, which you gotta be deliberate about. And so like, I want to be present as a dad and a positive influence and I don't think I can do that if I've got those distractions around me.

And you do have to be deliberate about it because phones these days, we know what they're like. You've gotta be, you've gotta be deliberate. And especially when you're busy, 

it's only set amount of hours in a day. Right.

Yeah.

What, what about the best advice you were ever given as you were progressing with the business?

I touched on it earlier, like my dad, when I was growing up, I would always see him negotiate for a deal. 

I used to go out in Western Sydney, place called Trash and Treasure, where my dad would used to go to a bargain hunt for, tools. Like household tools

kind of taught me the like, don't ask, don't get.

And when we started Shippit, like the first person I reached out to was a guy called Luke K, who was heading up, I think he set up the Iconics supply chain very early on. So the retailer, the iconic.

I'm just like, I just need to talk to this guy. Like just reach out. I'm sure you want to have a chat. And we had a chat about like where we saw the future of logistics and it's really how I'm seeing it play out now.

Right. And so I think myself and Rob have always had that attitude of being able to cold call, cold email, LinkedIn stock, just reach out for the experts And like, I don't know, like I look at the likes of Mike Cannon Brooks or someone like Richard White from WiseTech. Like, these guys are super smart. Or like Elon, like I've never thought myself as like the intellectual smart, but more around the ability to be able to pull together perspectives and come up with my own informed decision.

And so on that basis, like I think the advice has been always been around like, use the network around you and also the network that's not around you. And what I mean by that is like go go to those like startup events and go to like the meetups. Like you'll be really surprised at the types of people you'll meet there.

And, sliding doors moments happen more often than not. And I think that being able to then be open to taking on information and feedback is something that, I would say is a crucial piece of advice that I got given early on.

Yeah, I mean, there's two people that come to mind when you sort of talk about that sort of thing. It's one, Steve Jobs and the other's, Kobe Bryant, and both of those guys obviously were the very best at what they did, but they both told stories around how they would pick up the phone and ring the best in the world at some sort of, Professional, whatever it might be, and just pick their brain.

and I mean, Steve Jobs tells a story, I think with the, was it the, the, the founder of I B M I think it was, or someone like that when he was a kid, he wrote, wrote to him or rang him? He picked, actually, he wrote, he, I, I have to go and find the story, but I remember reading it not that long ago where he, he looked him up in the, in the phone book as it was back then, and he was actually there, and rang him.

And, he was like 12 or 14, got invited to go to IBM and I think it was ibm, and actually look at some of the stuff and got to know them. So just by asking, he got such an incredible experience. Kobe Bryant was another one where he would actually, I remember him telling a story about how he, reached out to the conductor of an orchestra, a world famous orchestra, because he wanted to understand how to be a better leader, coordinating a team and, and running, a group

 I'm a big basketball fan. There's, many things that Kobe have in one, his relentless work ethic 

and things like getting the advice from everyone. There's that classic photo of him and MJ on the halfway line asking Michael Jordan for advice. And he just picked him to parts as to like what he needed to do.

And that's an example. Like that is an archetype, like reaching out and asking for help.

Yep. Love, I love those stories. And, and the, the incredible part is they often get insights that you would never have got if you didn't ask. Right. And you just incredible that people will share what they share. okay. 

Final four quick questions. business person that you admire the most, or a few business people that you admire who they are and why.

starting within my periphery and like going a bit further out. 

people I've worked with closely at Shippit as investors who've helped me along the journey. Um, Danny Gallardi, he's on our cap table. I've known him since we were at uni together. He is a founder of a, he's a founder of Fund called Treble Capital, from operator to investor.

Boy from Wollongong. Pick up the phone with that guy. He'll give you the real answer, which is like, just inspiring because it's so fundamental. He's so fundamental, the likes of, Justin Lipman from E V P. He's also a person that is very sound on, like the fundamentals of a business and he knows what good looks like and he is able to provide that advice, which I love.

going a bit further out, like founders that I, I look up to are probably, Mike Ford from SiteMinder. Like he's did a really great job with that. He's in a great place now having done their I P o, I think 12, 24 months ago. Richard White is the wizard, right? What he's done with WiseTech.

It's a 27 billion listed business, started off at 750 million at the I p O. He's an example of combination of, organic growth, and growth through acquisition, knowing what the end state has, what he wanted to get to, and really building towards that, irrespective of what shareholders wanted.

and then I would say, Satia from Microsoft, like, man to pick that up off Bill Gates and then do what he is done over the last however many years.

Like hats off to that, like seeing what he is done with the company. Move the move to cloud new products like teams, like it's incredible.

What they're doing now with ai, incorporating some of that, open AI stuff is like next level. All right. And just even in terms of the deal they did to tie up what they needed to tie up.

It just feels as though he is like skating to where the puck is going. Right. Like he is 

Yep. 

head of the game on that. 

I like it. what about business books?

(show notes)

the hard thing about hard things, 

uh, don't know if you've seen Yeah. 

Ben Horowitz. Yeah. Good book.

yeah. Good book. Because like as a founder, it answers all the questions that you need answered. And, and it says them brutally honestly as well. Like things like, you hired your friend, how do you get rid of them? Like that's a, questions like that.

and then I also really liked, uh, good to Great. I think that was a 

good book as well. Yeah. Um, they're 

That's, that's a great one. 

my two. They're my two books.

Top two like them. what about quotes on business or leadership life? Anything that, you sort of live by or like to go to when the chips are down? Anything?

yeah, definitely. Like if you don't ask, you don't get. But the other philosophy that I've always, myself and Rob have always lived by are like, there's not too many one-way door decisions, like to take an Amazon view of the world. Like there's not too many decisions where you can't reverse. Right. And there is never a like situation that we've never been able to get ourselves around.

Right. And so like knowing, I think it might be a, a mindset thing that knowing things will always just work out is like a level of positivity that myself and Rob have always had. But what that also means is sometimes you just need to like get through it and it's gonna be painful and it's gonna be hard.

But there's light at the end of the tunnel. And like at the end of the day, we've seen enough and we've done a, a enough in terms of decision making over the last 20 years in our careers that now we're like, should be pretty confident that the calls that we are making are the right calls.

And so not to say that we're never wrong, like we're wrong many a time.

but it's really the, the framework of knowing that you can spend too much time on trying to decide on a decision that can be reversible.

It's like it's a waste of time. So

Well, you, you, you, you're backing your ability then to then, if you do make the wrong decision, is to correct it.

exactly, and like there's this huge human aspect that people fail to recognize when it comes to business and strategy and. Like, just have the conversation, pick up the phone, like, customers shitty at me because our system went down. We're gonna talk to them. What can we do about it? Right? Like that human aspect is what I think a lot of people in business fail to keep top of mind.

And something, myself and Rob prioritize quite a bit.

Okay. That's, that's a good philosophy because at the end of the day, that communication, keeping it open, it sometimes just can eliminate an issue just from being able to talk about it. Something 

that could 

be 

management.

Yeah, absolutely. what's next? for Shippit.

we have a pretty good, like we've got a really healthy balance sheet. I'm really focused on growth in Southeast Asia. It's like sub 5% of our overall business. and I wanna try and get it to 20%. And it will be through a combination of acquisition, which we've done and organic growth. We've done the product integration already, which is great.

As I mentioned at the start of the core, my ambi, our ambition as a company is 200 million shipments without waste. That means annualized 200 million shipments on our platform without waste because we truly believe that we can impact the impact of, sorry, we can truly impact the, carbon emissions as a result of e-commerce.

And we can do that through creating more efficient logistics networks by pushing parcels into areas which have got capacity. And what that means is our carrier partners don't need to build more warehouses and they need to buy more trucks. They need to lean on other logistics partners to fulfill their deliveries.

And so like we've got pretty ambitious plans around that. and the goal is to really create what we call the global distribution system for the logistics industry. So not to dissimilar from airlines where you've got one airline ticket that can work. Cross carrier like logistics should be able to do the same thing because there should be one API that does all of that.

Yeah. Okay. Well, William, thanks very much for your time. I've really loved talking to you and, and hearing about your journey and, and your insights, and really looking forward to seeing where the company and, and your career goes. It's, it's really exciting.

Awesome. Dion, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it.

Thanks, William. Cheers, mate.


Thanks for listening to this episode. I hope you enjoyed the show. If you did, we would really appreciate if you would leave a five star review and share with family and friends. Thanks.

Highlight Clip
Introduction
Introduction to William and what Shippit does
Has Shippit deviated from it's original vision and if so in what way?
How Shippit grows both organically and via acqusition
Shippit's North Star of 200 million deliveries without waste by 2025
How much money Shippit has raised and it's current valuation (2023)
The importance of choosing the right investors when raising capital
William On's biggest weakness and how they overcome it when running Shippit
William On’s best decision they ever made in Shippit and what resulted from it
The biggest challenges William On faced when growing Shippit
The advice that led William On to make Shippit successful
William On’s biggest business inspirations
William On’s favourite business books and how reading them impacted the success of Shippit
William On’s favourite quote on business, leadership and life
What’s next for William On and the future of Shippit
Outtro