Sendcloud is a leading European shipping platform that streamlines the shipping process for online retailers, offering integrated solutions with over 100 carriers and a wide array of shipping options
Could you please tell us about yourself and introduce Sendcloud to our audience?
I am Rob van den Heuvel, co-founder and CEO of Sendcloud, Europe’s #1 shipping platform. Founded in 2012, we are on a mission to solve shipping globally by automating the full shipping journey from checkout to returns. Connecting online retailers with 100+ carriers, 60+ integrations, and 4,000+ shipping options, we’re currently enabling over 25,000 customers to scale their shipping operations and deliver exceptional shipping experiences.
What inspired the concept of Sendcloud?
In 2012, the other co-founders, Bas and Sabi and I all ran an online store selling phone accessories. Things were great, and our businesses were growing. However, we all struggled with shipping: it was both time-consuming and expensive. After a few beers, we decided to come up with a solution ourselves and Sendcloud was born.
What motivated you to launch Sendcloud?
When we started looking for a solution to solve our shipping issues ourselves, we stumbled on various online forums where small business owners were complaining about the same stuff. Although payments were already automated at the time, this was not the case for shipping: you literally had to copy-paste every order, including contact details, addresses, etc, from the back-end of your store to the carrier’s software. When we figured lots of people were running into the same problem, we knew there was a bigger mission to accomplish than selling phone accessories online.
For e-commerce businesses, shipping costs rank as the largest expense. Meanwhile, consumers are becoming increasingly demanding, expecting to be able to decide for themselves when, where, and how to receive a parcel. Not only is shipping a complex and time-consuming process but consequently, merchants find themselves in a highly competitive environment where consumers don’t reorder if they experience any shipping issues. We believe we can close this gap and provide merchants with a shipping experience that is typically only reserved for the top 10 retailers in the market.
Could you share the core vision and mission of Sendcloud?
We like to set ambitious targets, so our ‘Big Hairy Audacious Goal’ is to annually process 1 billion parcels via our platform by 2025. The underlying idea is that parcel volume acts as a flywheel for our mission to solve shipping globally: with larger parcel volumes, we have a larger pool of data, allowing us to leverage AI and algorithms to enhance the efficiency and experience of shipping for our customers.
Can you talk about the initial challenges and difficulties you faced while starting up?
We started Sendcloud back in 2012, while we were in our early twenties and we had all just finished school. While we had our online store and knew what online retailers were up against in terms of shipping and expenses, we had no technical background or experience building a business whatsoever.
From cold-calling to negotiating contracts, we had to figure out everything ourselves. Along the way, we discovered that having a can-do attitude and the courage to make choices is exactly what has contributed to our success.
Who do you consider the primary audience for your services?
We are currently supporting more than 25,000 online stores spread across eight markets to deliver best-in-class shipping experiences. Examples include businesses ranging from enterprise clients like Boots and Intersport to marketplaces such as Catawiki, but also smaller merchants like Woodwatch.
What sets Sendcloud apart from other companies in the same field?
We believe delivering exceptional shipping experiences is key to building a successful e-commerce business. Most shipping solutions only solve part of the process, but we aim to solve the full shipping journey at scale – from checkout to returns. With Sendcloud, merchants get access to 100+ carriers, 60+ integrations, 4,000+ shipping options, and 390,000+ parcel points in just a few clicks.
Could you describe a typical day at work for you?
I get up around 4 a.m., take a cold shower, and start the day with a two-hour run. No, just kidding. I usually get up around 07:30, take a nice, hot shower, and have breakfast before heading to the office. I begin by carefully prioritising my calendar, making sure to tackle the top 3 priorities during the day. The rest of the day is filled with diverse meetings, ranging from job interviews and investor discussions to strategic planning sessions and customer meetings.
I end my day around 6 p.m., starting the wrap-up with replying to emails so that I can start the next day with a fresh inbox. Ideally, I squeeze in a workout into my calendar somewhere, as it helps to clear my mind from time to time.
Where do you envision Sendcloud and yourself in the next five years?
The industry has massive growth potential that we’re eager to tap into. The first milestone here is reaching our BHAG of 1 billion parcels by 2025, alongside the ambition to go public. An IPO would symbolise the company’s maturity, emphasising its ability to stand on its own. I’ve always aimed to build something big, mainly driven by the desire to learn and do new things.
As long as I keep evolving personally and contribute to our company’s growth, I believe I’m in the right place. Knowing that personal growth and development contribute to the overall advancement of the company, we aim to nurture these aspects within our team by promoting our three core values: no bullshit, grow & win, and fun.
What are three pieces of advice you would offer to aspiring entrepreneurs?
First, stop thinking about the things you want and just do them. Getting things done is an incredibly valuable skill. Too often, individuals try to make the perfect business plan and dedicate two years to it, when in reality, they should have implemented it years ago. Rather than planning it, you will learn more about your business and strategy while executing it. You learn by doing. If you’ve made a wrong decision, you can easily undo it, and making wrong decisions is better than no decision at all.
Second, make sure your founding team is in order. You’re basically married to your founding team and if you want to build a world-class company, you should treat them accordingly. We were advised early on to hold mediation sessions, which is basically a fancy word for the three of us having dinner and talking about all the things that bothered us in the past month. It’s crucial for us to stay aligned.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly: invest in a strong culture from the very beginning. People ultimately make your company. We, for example, value a “no bullshit”-culture, as open feedback is essential for growth. By acknowledging our mistakes and learning from the perspective of others, we aim to create successful teams. In the early years, I was therefore involved in all job interviews, but even after 10 years, the company culture remains a key priority for me as a CEO.
Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.