In 2014, two childhood friends from New Delhi, India, Dhruv Saxena and Divey Gulati, founded ShipBob, a technology company providing supply chain and fulfilment solutions to e-commerce businesses. Since then, the company has expanded across the country with fulfilment centres in Chicago, Brooklyn and Los Angeles, and has hired more than 130 people. For Dhruv and Divey, this is just the beginning.
Dhruv and Divey came to the U.S. in 2007 to pursue undergraduate degrees in engineering. At Purdue University, Dhruv received his Bachelor’s and Master’s in Electrical Engineering. Not too far away, at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, Divey majored in Computer Engineering as an undergrad and went on to pursue an MBA with a focus in strategy, operations and technology management.
After graduation in 2012, they both moved to Chicago to start their new jobs. Divey was a supply chain consultant at a Big Four accounting firm and Dhruv worked for a small startup company as a software engineer. While they were at their jobs, they began experimenting with different business ideas, one of them being able to send and print photos from a phone and mail them anywhere in the U.S. To do this, they created an automated photo-printing bot. Their customers would send a text message with a photo attachment and mailing address to the bot, and it would apply flattering effects and print the photo. For Dhruv and Divey, all that was left to do was go to the post office and mail the photo.
While their business started to grow, it was difficult trying to keep up with their full-time jobs and go to the post office to mail customers’ orders. Dhruv and Divey started looking for a company that could help their e-commerce business figure out the logistics but were unable to find one. While at the post office, they noticed other online business owners lugging around their packages and mailing them to customers. It sparked an idea that they could create a business that could help these online retailers package and ship their products.
The timing of their new business venture couldn’t have been better. They had just been accepted into very successful startup incubator called Y Combinator, which was a big dream for Dhruv and Divey. Y Combinator, which has funded companies like Dropbox, Airbnb, Reddit and Instacart, takes in two “batches” of companies who they believe will be successful each year. The companies receive seed funding, advice from partners and connections in exchange for 7% equity.
Dhruv and Divey were accepted into Y Combinator’s Summer 2014 batch with their idea of creating a shipping service for e-commerce owners to monitor their orders, called ShipBob. They also brought on their third co-founder Jivko Bojinov, whom Divey met while he was getting his MBA. During that summer, they stood outside post offices around Chicago and asked potential clients to use ShipBob’s mobile app, which would allow them to have their packages shipped without standing in long lines. The post offices became upset and called the postal police because they thought Dhruv and Divey were taking business away from them (when it was actually the opposite). However, they managed to bring in about 50 clients just from standing outside of the post office that summer.
Dhruv, Divey, and Jivko then began visiting businesses in Lincoln Park and Bucktown who had e-commerce websites, and asked how they handle their packaging and shipping. They would show business owners their mobile app, in which the owners would provide feedback on how to improve their system. As a result, ShipBob was constantly growing, which is essential for any startup.
From the feedback they received, Dhruv and Divey soon realised that they needed to expand beyond a mobile application. They needed to create a web interface for merchants to monitor their orders and packages across all platforms and marketplaces. Not only that, but they also needed to create a way for business owners to manage their inventory. Soon enough, ShipBob began taking in clients’ inventory and storing it in a warehouse. Ultimately, ShipBob went from being a pick-up and shipping business to a full-fledged solutions firm for e-commerce businesses with fulfilment centres across the country.
The key for ShipBob is to always keep growing, not just by bringing in more clients but to also grow internally. Dhruv and Divey continue to articulate the vision of ShipBob to ensure they attract potential employees and investors with the same philosophy. It is the focus and consistency of their vision which differentiates ShipBob from its competition, in which they put a heavy emphasis on customers and their needs.
From growing up as friends in India to creating a successful startup in the U.S., Dhruv and Divey have proved that the American dream is alive and well.
Interested in working for ShipBob? Check out our open positions.