Jarell Habets, CEO of Shypple, on shaking up traditional industries and the ‘quantified self’
“Over the past years, we have built an organic growth machine. More than half of our people are working in a department focused on growth. Now it’s time to add another layer to the mix – acquisitions.”
Jarell Habets is the founder and CEO of Shypple, a digital freight forwarding scale-up, and as such, he knows what it takes to run a fast-growing, innovative company.
Founded in 2016, Shypple came about as a result of Jarell’s frustration with the lack of technological innovation in the logistics industry and so he took it upon himself to make a change. Today, about five years later, his company has a team of 80, more than 3,000 customers using its online platform, and a total of 28 million euros in external funding. Most of that funding, 25.5 million euros, has been secured in 2021 alone.
The growth potential is certainly there and it’s safe to say Jarell is on his way to achieving what he set out to do – disrupt an established, traditional industry.
Exploring and embracing new strategies for growth
The funny thing about Jarell’s entrepreneurial journey is that while he always wanted to run his own business, he never expected it to be in logistics. It was an internship that he did for a freight forwarding company that exposed him to the world of logistics, including both its inefficiencies and its potential.
“The idea of working for that firm was to get a first-hand experience from its CEO,” Jarell says, “a guy in logistics who was doing pretty well in a difficult market. Eventually, it was not only a learning experience but also the source of my new venture.”
Since that moment, Jarell has been working hard to realize the potential of his innovative idea and to keep adding value to an industry that is gradually moving towards a more digital future.
That being said, for the most part, the freight forwarding business is still highly fragmented and dependent on many ways of communicating and managing the trade, Jarell says. From spreadsheets and other paperwork to calls and emails, there is plenty of room for things to get mixed up or go wrong. With its digital platform, Shypple aims to bring all of the above together in one place.
“I believe the freight forwarding market is currently being disrupted, but it is still very fragmented. There are a lot of competitors, but I don’t see any of them getting a double-digit market share any time soon. We are educating the market together, so customers can understand the advantages of working fully digitally.”
Not too long from now, though, Jarell believes the competition would start to toughen. With the ambition to be at the forefront of the market, he is focused on growth and making sure that his team is set up for success. Last year, Shypple achieved revenues of over 20 million euros, and “our ambition is to double or triple every year.”
So far, the scale-up has been growing mostly organically and in order to achieve this accelerated growth, it sees the potential in focusing on acquisitions. To show just how seriously it is taking this approach, Shypple recently acquired Milestone, an expert in perishable logistics, thus taking the lead in the market for air and ocean freight perishables.
Your team is your biggest asset
Joining forces with another company has also meant entering a new market segment as well as expanding its global presence. Surely, growth is a good thing, but it also poses certain challenges. Finding the right approach to working with – and integrating – teams across continents is one of them, Jarell says.
The biggest challenge of all, though, is to be able to implement the company’s two strategies – organic growth and acquisitions – in parallel and with the same amount of intensity. “We do organic growth really well and I believe that we can do the other one also, but we need to find the right people. We haven’t built the capability in-house to acquire other companies, so what I have done over the past months is to look for that talent.”
Talent is indeed a keyword for Jarell and his entrepreneurial journey so far. He truly believes in building teams with some of the most skilled and committed people out there. “I may be the sole founder of the company, but I don’t feel alone in carrying the weight,” he says. “Once I had the resources to hire the best people I could get, I really felt like I had co-founders. If you have a team that is excited about the company and is committed and loyal, it doesn’t have to feel like you are the only founder.”
Perhaps without even realizing his own ability, Jarell has been able to unite a big group of people around his vision of a more digital and technologically-driven logistics industry. He has built a team that believes in what Shypple stands for and is eager to keep pushing the boundaries of the industry they’re in.
Listen to the Up!Rotterdam podcast with Jarell below, or check all the episodes of the Up!Rotterdam podcast here.