Some of the biggest startups in recent years have succeeded by upending established industries: Think Uber and taxis, or Airbnb and hotels.

Now comes Shyp, a Silicon Valley venture that wants to transform the cumbersome shipping process by taking over the packaging, picking up and dropping off of parcels.

“Shipping is a $300 billion-plus, 220-year-old industry begging for disruption,” says Shyp co-founder Kevin Gibbon.

Like Uber, Shyp works via a smartphone app. Snap a picture of what you want to ship — say, a pair of skis you sold on eBay. You don’t have to worry about finding a ski-shaped box or the right packaging materials to keep them from getting damaged, because Shyp will do that for you.

There’s also no need to haul them to the nearest post office. Shyp estimates how much it will cost to ship the skis via FedEx, DHL, UPS or the U.S. Postal Service, picks the best deal and then sends an employee to your location to fetch the goods within 20 minutes. These couriers (Shyp calls them “heroes”) take your skis to a local warehouse, box them and send them on their way.

Customers pay the estimated shipping cost, plus a $5 pickup fee. Shyp makes money by getting volume discounts from the shipping services and pocketing the difference. Gibbon says shipping companies like it because instead of 15 separate pickups, they can load their trucks at fewer stops.

The service is geared to regular people who don’t have a stash of packing peanuts on hand. But Shyp says 70% of its customers are businesses, including eBay and Etsy sellers.

Gibbon saw firsthand the headaches of shipping parcels when he ran a business selling items on eBay in his native Canada. He paid his way through college by purchasing bulk goods internationally and reselling them on the retail site for a profit.

“The toughest part was packaging and shipping the goods. It was so painful I ended up being forced to close down my business,” he says. “I realized that if it was this painful for me, it was a miserable experience for millions of other people.”

He and software engineer Joshua Scott came up with the idea for Shyp while working together at another startup, and the pair’s first hire was a global logistics and manufacturing expert as their head of operations.

Shyp started pickups in March but has already handled 25,000 shipments, Gibbon says. The company has operations in San Francisco and New York and hopes to be running in Miami by the end of the year.

Source : Young companies, big ideas, Heather Kelly ( )


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