Given the heartbreaking events of the last few weeks, this is an odd time to be making an announcement about a new business. There are far more important initiatives warranting your attention than a launch announcement right now—namely, those combating systemic racism—and that’s not lost on me. If you don’t have the time or energy to read on, I absolutely understand.
Today, my co-founder Sarah Siwak and I are introducing the world to Airhouse, an end-to-end fulfillment solution for ecommerce companies. Shipping again? Let me explain.
It’s been about two years since we shut down Shyp, a very hard experience to go through but one that was fruitful with actionable lessons about the logistics-as-a service product category. Shyp was beloved by many and I still receive messages to this day from former customers who express how much they miss it. While I miss it too, the consumer margins and unit economics simply did not work (more on that here).
Shortly before we wound the business down, we spotted an interesting trend: small businesses were leveraging our pickup feature, fleet of couriers, and regional warehouses to effectively hack their way through fulfillment. The product was in no way intended for that. But seeing a clear demand for it got Sarah (who was leading marketing at Shyp at the time) and I thinking about an opportunity for streamlined fulfillment for ecommerce companies.
The ecommerce growth of the last two decades has brought us to a fulfillment tipping point. Entrepreneurs are able to reach potential customers through channels that didn’t used to exist, completely upending traditional distribution. Consumer product companies no longer need to sell into buyers or attend trade shows to market their products. They can do so through their own channels. But as digital tools have emerged to run nearly every aspect of a consumer product business, the mechanisms for how those products get to customers have stayed behind. The traditional fulfillment format does not apply to modern businesses, so, we thought, isn’t time for one that does? That brings us to today.
With a software platform that automates the heavy lifting of getting products in the hands of customers, Airhouse lets entrepreneurs focus on what they’re best at. Onboarding takes minutes and there’s no need for a team with operational or engineering expertise. Once connected with a business’ ecommerce platform, like Shopify, Airhouse’s software evaluates store data to create a holistic view of the business and where its customers are. Brands are then matched with warehouses in Airhouse’s partner network that make the most sense for the business, with their inventory shipped to the partner facility as fast as the same day. Airhouse then creates a custom technical configuration for each business tailored directly to their needs and growth strategy.
From there, as new orders come in, the entire fulfillment process, from factory to front door, is efficiently and affordably managed by Airhouse. From a single dashboard, brands have complete visibility on inventory, so they know what products are where and which are running low in real time. It’s like having an all-in-one, cloud-based warehouse that maintains itself—an Airhouse.
Sarah, myself, and a small team spent the last year or so building the technical infrastructure of the product, acquiring partnerships with storage facilities across the country, and merging the two to create our automated partner network. We then began slowly onboarding customers in the fall of 2019. We’ve worked closely with these initial customers to ensure we have built the end-to-end functionality to effectively serve them. Since then, it’s been difficult to keep up with the demand: we’re already powering 100 percent of shipping volume for dozens of businesses. I’m beyond grateful to these early customers for taking a chance on us and giving us the feedback required to build a platform that helps them pursue their dreams.
I couldn’t be more proud of our small and mighty team who worked tirelessly to serve the needs of the small businesses and brands that we’re working with—especially with the difficulties the last few months have presented. I also want to thank Airhouse’s investors who believe in our mission: to make it easier than ever for entrepreneurs to create products and get them in the hands of their customers.
Starting a company from scratch right now is both a challenge and a beautiful opportunity. Sarah and I both care greatly about building an organization based on a value system that we’re proud of. That starts, of course, with forming an equal and level playing field. In honor of those we’ve lost and to do our part for the long road ahead, we’ve made a donation to Campaign Zero and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. As we create and grow our business and culture, we look forward to continuing to support organizations and creating internal frameworks that stop systemic racism in its tracks. If what we’re building and how we’re building it sounds interesting to you, get in touch because we’re hiring.