Laura Behrens Wu – When Digital and Physical Worlds Converge – [Founder’s Field Guide, EP.5]

My guest today is Laura Behrens Wu, co-founder and CEO of Shippo. Shippo started in 2014 after Laura realized with her own e-commerce start-up that shipping was an incredibly difficult task for most merchants, so she set out to fix the problem for everyone. Shippo let’s merchants small and large use its dashboard or APIs to simplify the shipping and tracking process. Our conversation focuses on Laura’s background prior to Shippo, how Shippo’s business and business strategy have evolved, the inherent challenges of building a shipping platform, and the intersection of the physical and digital worlds. I hope you enjoy our wide-ranging conversation.

This episode is brought to you by Microsoft for Startups. Microsoft for Startups is a global program dedicated to helping “enterprise-ready” B2B startups successfully scale their companies. If you’re a founder running a B2B company targeting the enterprise, you should definitely check them out.

This episode is also sponsored by Vanta.  Vanta has built software that makes it easier to both get and maintain your SOC 2 report, at a fraction of the normal cost. Founders Field Guide listeners can redeem a $1k off coupon at vanta.com/patrick

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Show Notes

(2:57) – (First question) – The story of Popout and how it led to Shippo

(7:40) – Challenge of working in a huge and crowded market

(10:36) – How Shippo changed shipping for small businesses

(12:30) – First big break in their favor 

(13:39) – Their master account with the major shipping companies

(14:39) – Why is the shipping industry so complex

(16:25) – Most painful part of building Shippo

(18:20) – Advice for people in early company building 

(19:26) – Pricing software in early days

(20:32) – The early days of Shippo and getting it to where it is today

(23:17) – Going to market and targeting new customers when they’re mostly small businesses

(25:48) – Partnering with a larger company, in their case Shopify

(27:52) – How they think about their long-term planning

(30:48) – Competing in a world where companies can own their own infrastructure 

(32:39) – How often they think about other competitive advantages

(34:20) – Worst question an investor asked her: what if Amazon tries to copy them

(35:17) – Her superpowers as a founder 

(36:41) – API vs dashboard and the difference in their customer bases

(38:52) – What businesses that need shipping today need to know

(40:14) – Changes in how businesses are being built today

(41:28) – What excites her most about the future of this business

(43:28) – Kindest thing anyone has done for her

Learn More

For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast

Sign up for the book club and new email newsletter called “Inside the Episode” at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub.

Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag