Dhruv Saxena is the CEO of ShipBob, which offers fulfillment services for online businesses. Saxena co-founded the company with Divey Gulati, and later they sought the help of Jivko Bojinov, who is sometimes cited as the third co-founder. While at the helm, Saxena has seen the business grow to have 150 employees stationed at the headquarters in Chicago and expand to 10 other locations. The company recently joined the unicorn club after its latest funding round, and with Saxena's entrepreneurial spirit, we can be assured that ShipBob is destined for greater things. Let's help you get to know the CEO more through these ten facts.
1. ShipBob is Not His First Business
After Saxena and his friend Gulati moved to America to study engineering, they still kept in touch. Therefore, once they graduated, they moved to Chicago for their respective jobs, but there was an itch to be entrepreneurs. They brainstormed different ideas and finally settled on printing photos then sending them by mail anywhere within the US. The two engineers came up with an automated photo-printing bot that would receive photo attachments and mailing addresses from customers. Since they had to mail them, they appropriately named the startup SnailMail Pics.
2. How the Idea of ShipBob Came to Be
Saxena and Gulati had to mail thousands of pictures through the post office every week. According to VoyageChicago, they would find long queues of other customers waiting to ship their packages too. The lines sparked a business idea in the young entrepreneurs' minds seeing that there was a gap in the market in the shipping industry. As a result, they decided it was time to think about how to help customers ship their products without having to stay so long in line at the post office. Thus, ShipBox was born to automate e-commerce fulfillment.
3. How He Found His First ShipBob Customers
The idea of ShipBob was great but getting the customers to trust them to help with shipping orders was a challenge. So in the summer of 2014, Saxena and the other two co-founders would stand in front of the post offices waiting to talk to those who showed up to ship their orders, hoping to convince them to use the ShipBob app. Unfortunately, the move was taken as a threat by most post offices who called postal police because they thought the young men were determined to steal the clients. It got so bad that even one post office banned them, but their efforts did not go to waste because they managed to get their first customers.
4. He Believes Hiring the Right Personnel is the Biggest Challenge in a Startup
Saxena opines that the most challenging thing when establishing a business is recruiting the right employees. Therefore at ShipBob, they have three questions they ask potential employees to determine if they qualify. First, Saxena and his co-founders need to know if the candidate is smarter than them for that particular role. They also check to see if the candidate blends well with the company culture and if they have exceptional strengths in their professional or personal lives.
5. He Came to America to Pursue Higher Education
America is referred to as the land of opportunity, and almost everyone across the globe hopes to land in the United States to realize their dream. For Saxena, his goal was to pursue an undergraduate engineering degree in a good institution, so he came to America in 2007. He joined Purdue University for both his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in electrical engineering, and after graduating, he sought employment in Chicago as a software engineer.
6. He Was Accepted into Y Combinator in the Summer of 2014
Since its founding in 2005, Y Combinator has helped many businesses get their footing by investing in them. Saxena and Gulati needed capital to get their idea up and running; hence had applied to join the Y Combinator. By then, they were already operating Snail Mail Pics. Luckily, according to ShipBob, they were accepted in summer 2014 just in time to fund the new e-commerce shipping company.
7. He Ensures Everyone in the Company is a Problem Solver
The Christmas holidays usually exert a lot of pressure on businesses, and ShipBob is no exemption. During that period, the shipping industry is a lot more hectic as people try to ensure their loved ones get the presents they have been longing for all year long. Therefore, to ensure that everyone is chipping in to make the operations run smoothly, Saxena told the YC blog that all employees, regardless of the position, must spend a week at a fulfillment center. As a result, they learn the core business, enabling them to help during the holiday rush.
8. Through ShipBob, He Has Learned Resilience
Having a business idea and seeing it come to fruition are two different things and most people are not patient enough to wait until the business grows. They give up at the first sign of trouble, but Saxena is cut from a different cloth; thus, even when ShipBob underwent challenges that had them thinking they would shut down, they persisted. He disclosed that in late 2015 and early 2016, the industry trend made it difficult to raise money, but they used the experience to learn more problem-solving skills.
9. He is Ambitious
In 2018, Saxena revealed that he planned for ShipBob to expand to 10 new locations and start same-day shipping for customers within the US. By 2020, that aspiration had already been achieved, but the CEO is not taking a break. He is determined to see the company operate in 12 other locations by the end of 2021. As a result, ShipBob can have more warehouses, cutting shipping costs and making deliveries faster and cheaper.
10. What He Thinks Supports the Company's Growth and Profitability
When he talked to TechCrunch, Saxena explained that one of the requisites for company growth is providing affordable and fast shipping across all channels. Therefore, merchants who have partnered with ShipBob get to enjoy 2-day shipping directly through their websites and marketplaces. In addition, the pandemic has also affected the profits because even the older population has been forced to adopt online buying.
Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee