This year at Shippabo, Senior UX/UI Designer Cody Rainwater plans to travel to Iceland to spot the aurora borealis. Senior Sales Operations Specialist Alyssa Croghan is initiating a big move to Washington. Marketing Manager Melvie Gabriel doesn’t have a destination yet, but just knowing she has the prospect of traveling with her family after two years at home is kindling excitement for what’s ahead.
As they’re buzzing over their future endeavors for 2022 and celebrating each other’s personal wins, you would never guess that they weren’t in the same room. Or the same state.
That’s because, as employees at the cloud-based supply chain management platform, they’re able to pursue passions outside their work schedule thanks to Shippabo’s fully remote work culture.
“This flexibility has also increased my productivity,” Gabriel said. “I don’t have to stress about driving an hour and a half just to get anywhere, especially here in Silicon Valley.” Another key factor? Their tight-knit collaboration across departments gets the work done fast, efficiently and without isolation.
“Being a more introverted person, I can definitely appreciate the efforts that have been put into making sure that we all don’t feel secluded in our work,” Croghan added. “Our HR team really keeps us engaged.”
In fact, Croghan and Gabriel join forces weekly — if not daily — to ensure that sales and marketing departments are working together, aligned in goals and messaging.
That same engagement and sense of flexibility ingrained into Shippabo’s culture allows department leaders to embark on an essential project at the top of the company’s list: scaling at a rapid pace and doubling in size this year. The purpose? To better secure and supply capacity for their customers that rely on smooth supply chain functionality.
BUILDING BLUEPRINTS FOR THE FUTURE
According to Gabriel, doubling in size means at least 40 additional new hires, which creates a unique pressure for customer growth and company culture.
Pressure, meet diamond.
To overcome any potential stressors and thrive under these conditions, sales teams at Shippabo approach integrating new employees as a group venture. By taking an all-hands-on-deck approach to the process, not only are new hires being set up for success with an abundance of resources, but existing teams are scaling the intimate culture that’s already been forged.
“We really enlist a lot of our team to take part, so it’s not all just on one person,” Croghan said. “While I might help with preparing their onboarding plan and when they come in, some of our account executives will help train them. Then we have our sales manager provide coaching.” Additionally, through interactive tools like Notion, Gong, and Slack, freshly hired candidates can browse through informative databases, analyze previously recorded calls, or initiate an internal Slack huddle to answer outstanding questions.
With big hiring plans already underway and more looming on the horizon, Shippabo is gearing up to undergo a metamorphosis, but nothing that makes up their identity is getting left behind. Still, that comes with an imminent set of its own challenges. How will role responsibilities change? How will teams tackle a growing customer base? How do you keep people happy?
Rainwater, Croghan and Gabriel sat down with Built In to describe how they’re preparing for growth as they plunge into an exciting new future.
Tell us about the culture at Shippabo, especially as a remote-first company. Do employees have a chance to shape that culture?
Alyssa Croghan: I have been really impressed with the culture at Shippabo. I’ve come from a background of companies who are more set in their ways and hold to more traditional ideologies. Coming to Shippabo — especially because we’re all remote — our HR team has done a really good job of trying to keep everybody connected via Slack, hosting little games that we all can contribute in, scheduling holiday and work events for us like Thanksgiving, Christmas, special lunches or wine and cheese tastings via Zoom.
Cody Rainwater: We recently had a boba tea-making class with this Michelin-star chef. Being shown how to make it was really entertaining, and seeing everyone in their respective kitchens was just fun to experience. Everyone came together, and it was exciting and chaotic, like a busy kitchen can be. It was a great virtual interaction that I think is lacking in a lot of remote companies.
Melvie Gabriel: I noticed early on that empathy is huge at Shippabo. We all realize that we can’t work alone. We don’t know everything, and we’re all so willing to learn from each other and help each other. We do a lot of brainstorming sessions, for example, and are always trying to refine our processes.
How do you or your team approach major hiring goals, and how has that team growth impacted the work you’re able to accomplish?
Melvie Gabriel: We use Notion as our tool for onboarding new employees, giving them the resources that they might need for access to everything from the company calendar to your 30/60/90 day plan. As far as hiring goes, you get a lot more candidates in the pipeline with the increased interest in remote work. In fact, I’ve had the issue of trying to choose which candidate is best because they’re just all very solid.
Cody Rainwater: We just hired a new product manager. I think that skill is very important, but so is making sure that someone is also a good culture fit — something Shippabo does really well. They get people who are part of the vibe, who come in and are also really kind, helpful, and willing to jump in and learn.
“I think that skill is very important, but so is making sure that someone is also a good culture fit — something Shippabo does really well.”
Alyssa Croghan: In regards to how growth has impacted the work I’m able to accomplish, the growth requires us to remain agile when new people bring in new ideas. It helps us foster that sense of camaraderie and say, “What are your contributions?” This can be challenging sometimes because there’s a lot to do, but they’re positive challenges. We’re not static in our roles, and we’re challenged with personal growth as well, which I always appreciate.
How do you promote working autonomously while still having a voice — especially as your team numbers start to increase?
Melvie Gabriel: Nobody likes being micromanaged. However, you also don’t want to feel alone when you need help or support. That’s why each department has its own goals. For marketing, we have our own KPIs that we need to meet every quarter, and we know that we’re working towards those goals. If you encounter any roadblocks or you just want to share a strategy with someone, we do a lot of quick Slack huddles to help, reference Notion or maybe schedule a quick Zoom meeting. I think the increase in productivity really is being impacted just by the tools that we have.
In my role and on my team, we try to make sure that we never let a day pass without addressing something that you have a question about. There’s no reason for us not to be able to get support when we need it.
What tools are you utilizing to expand your capabilities as you grow internally?
Alyssa Croghan: A lot of my focus is on lead generation, so we use sales engagement platforms. The sales engagement platform that we’re utilizing right now is primarily focused on outbound emailing, where we’re looking at adopting a new sales engagement platform that will allow us to expand into more omni-channel outreach: Think email, calling, social media, and more. That will help support our goals in growth.
Additionally, using Gong to be able to record our calls to use for coaching and training, to have those live recordings to help train our team. Within Gong, employees can highlight a section of a message and say, “Hey, I need some help on this. I didn’t phrase this correctly. Can you help coach me on this?” It really, really makes that aspect of it a lot quicker and easier to ask for that help and coaching.
Cody Rainwater: For design and working in product, we use Figma primarily. It’s a great tool that bridges design and development. When you hand off a design file, engineers can make comments on it or pitch new ideas. That’s been helpful not only for engineers, but we use it for our user experience workshops. It’s an easier, better, more efficient way to collect qualitative data working with internal teams and trying to figure out how they use the product, their behaviors and pain points.
Melvie, you joined when Shippabo only had an external marketing team. How did you analyze what was missing and approach building that internal function?
Having an internal team that really lives and breathes Shippabo — it’s a whole other ballgame. I believe an external company or agency is great, but there could be limitations. If you have messaging that you really need to make sure is aligned across the board, especially with multiple departments and stakeholders, you need that internal function. And if something changes and you have to change it quickly, you don’t have to wait for the agency to give you something to review and then go back to them again, refine it, and repeat. It boils down to having someone that’s inside Shippabo that knows our process really well and understands the value proposition, the messaging and everything in between.
“I’ve only been here eight months and we’re already growing our team so fast — it’s exciting to think about the things we could do and the campaigns that we could launch.”
We need to get things done super fast, and we need to change a lot of things rapidly because of the way the supply chain industry has been evolving recently. What I’m really most proud of is that when we took over the projects from the external agency, we were able to refine our campaigns. We’re actually converting past our opportunity numbers from last quarter, so it seems like we’re doing something right. It really boils down to how fast we can do our jobs and how well the team knows Shippabo, and now that we’re all internal, that’s a little easier to handle, and a lot more fun.