Listen to Leaders, Go with Your Gut | Chelsie Lee at Shipsi

In part one of my conversation with Chelsie, she talked about her company, Shipsi, which gives any retailer the delivery power of large online behemoths like Amazon.

In this second part of our conversation, Chelsie discusses the resources she drew from to help get Shipsi off the ground, how she’s positioning her company for a post-pandemic world, and why she believes funding through venture capital was a mistake.

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Chelsie Lee is the Co-founder and CEO of SHIPSI, the delivery technology platform that enables retailers to offer same-day and scheduled delivery without managing any of the logistics. She’s a retail, technology, and supply chain expert who has consulted 500+ top retailers and brands on business strategy, growth, and execution.

Among her previous clients are Saks Fifth Avenue, New Look, UGG, O’Neill, Nike and more. In addition to being nominated for EY Entrepreneur of the Year, Chelsie is also a contributor to the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center, a mentor to emerging brands, a surf enthusiast, and a yoga instructor. She currently resides in Venice, CA.

DISCLAIMER: Below is an AI generated transcript. There could be a few typos but it should be at least 90% accurate. Watch video or listen to the podcast for the full experience!

Chelsie Lee 0:00
I think really, it’s about having the right people around you and sticking authentic to who you are as a founder and also to the company that you’re building.

Alexander Ferguson 0:17
In part one of my conversation with Chelsie, she talked about our company Shipsi, which gives any retailer the delivery power of a large online behemoth like Amazon. In the second part of our conversation, Chelsie discusses the resources she drew from to help get ships off the ground, how she’s positioning our company for a post pandemic world, and why she believes funding through venture capital may have been a mistake. From the beginning, you said it, you got connected with your co founder, you have this technology. And you you began this this journey? Did you have the business model figured out right from the beginning? How did that evolve?

Chelsie Lee 0:53
Trial by Fire? I can say.

Alexander Ferguson 0:58
I like that. If you had to share one hurdle that you had to overcome in the past three years that another entrepreneur or leader could learn from? What would you share? Just one, just cherry picking one, I’m sure there’s countless numerous. And it may be just that that journey of how do you go from from nothing to your first customer, and be able to then scale from there.

Chelsie Lee 1:24
Lean on mentors, is a big one. I think failing fast is a pretty cliche, one that you can say, and you can take or leave any of these for the write up. But I’m failing fast is a really important one. Really making sure that you have your ducks in a row before going to market or before trying to raise capital do it right from the beginning is another really thick line. I think really, it’s about having the right people around you and sticking authentic to who you are as a founder and also to the company that you’re building. It’s really confusing when a mentor or an investor or your co founders telling you we should go north, we should go north, no. And then the next one he talked to says we should go south More times than not. If I would have stuck with my gut from the beginning, in a lot of those conversations, it’s really important to get that feedback. But there are countless situations, whether it’s on product modifications, or it’s on investment, or it’s on hiring, stick to your gut and be authentic to who you are. And the the kind of company that you want to build and have the right people around you in every capacity of the team to support all of it.

Alexander Ferguson 2:43
If if there if it’s dichotomy of having lots of support and mentors around you to give advice, but to stick with the gut that you know of the direction you’re trying to get to balancing that ahead.

Chelsie Lee 2:59
It is certainly an art and, and a science to say the least. There’s a better line for that. But uh, yeah, for now, I’ll say it’s a it’s an art and a science and a challenge. And something you only go through that’s why when we get old, we get so wise, right? You only learn from some of these experiences.

Alexander Ferguson 3:20
If you had to, if you were to start this over again, in the past three years to start the company again, is there something you would change or do slightly different to either do things faster? Or more efficiently? Or or just do a different?

Chelsie Lee 3:34
I would have sold my way out of it instead of raising venture capital.

Alexander Ferguson 3:38
Okay, why why do you say that?

Chelsie Lee 3:42
If you have the right product at the right time, and there’s a big problem that you’re solving, and you can actually do it, it’s easier to post a contracts with potential customers. And it will only put you in a position to learn faster. It’s that’s what it’s really about. If I would have posted a contract, and got some, you know, maybe a front working capital from a customer, I could have built faster, I could have had them testing faster, I would have been in a better position to raise capital because I would have had those use cases I could have made product modifications sooner, because I would have just had them it’s it’s a balance of getting your ducks in a row and doing things right from the beginning. But also start learning as quickly as possible, so that you don’t end up wasting money on part of a product that you don’t end up using or that someone doesn’t need or doing a crazy customization.

Alexander Ferguson 4:47
Working with your clients getting their contracts have a problem that actually needs solving and using that revenue and that money to build it versus just getting funds and then building something that

Chelsie Lee 4:58
solve a big problem. execute on it and the rest will follow. Have your customers have enormous success, and everything else will follow the revenue will follow and building a great team around you.

Alexander Ferguson 5:11
Looking forward now, what hurdles do you see in your way of accomplishing your kind of next steps, your next goals, particularly maybe in the light of the current economic situation,

Chelsie Lee 5:23
there is so much uncertainty for everyone. And we are taking every precaution that we possibly can from cutting budget to, you know, getting early users on some of these new products that we can learn and grow. I think that the the biggest hurdle that I see for us over the next year is, is really about making sure that we are positioned perfectly on the other side of this, to just completely blow everything out of the water. This current environment I see as fuel to the fire of what our business looks like long term, it is setting a different consumer expectation, it is forcing retailers to move up these projects like curbside or delivery. It is absolutely a catalyst for our business. It’s just making sure that we’re making the right decisions and taking the right steps in the meantime, to put ourselves in a really, really strong position on the other side of this.

Alexander Ferguson 6:28
How are you continually to innovate? Where do you look for new ideas and new thoughts? Do you have any current books or podcasts or articles that you’re reading or in gaining insight?

Chelsie Lee 6:42
I find that I find that connecting with people that I’ve previously worked with one of the most helpful things or it’s an old customer. I mean, that’s really where a lot of the key learnings come from even for my team to utilize them as resources. I have old clients that I just sent a note to that said, I’m considering rolling out this widget or that one? Which one do you think would be more valuable for X retailer business? Like they’re the experts in it? Right? Um, so I I tend to lean on the people who are experts in those fields, more than anything, they know it far better, why would I pretend like I know the answer or try and you know, be smarter faster than them when they do it every day. That is one. And there is I also read for 10 minutes every night. And the it’s just kind of a habit that I think I developed in college. So I’ll send you a note after this and a couple of my favorites, but

Alexander Ferguson 7:50
great. Every 10 minutes every night. Now that’s a good routine.

Chelsie Lee 7:54
I mean, that’s every night. Yeah, Simon Sinek. And the Golden Circle are why is something I lean heavily on I think in a lot of ways. And I just started a new one a couple days ago that also did the name of it. I can’t I can’t even recall it offhand. And

Alexander Ferguson 8:12
that’s okay. You can set it to me later. But I love that concept. 10 minutes a day. I have a cup of tea. I love it. So close that with this last question. What kind of tech innovation do you predict we will see in the near term and the long term? So in the near term, like the next year or so. And then long term, 10 years?

Chelsie Lee 8:30
Near term? I think it’s about how do we use our resources in the right way. We are so wasteful, I think in the next year, there’s going to be a lot of you know sustainable type products or technology developments? Or how do we recycle resources that we already have? I think there’s going to be a lot in there. And then also on I mean, on the retail side, there’s going to be a lot of things around inventory and overstocking inventory. I even think that there’s going to be a lot of new technology startups in the next year that are trying to solve for this new massive inventory problem that retailers are facing. So that’s kind of in that in that landscape. And long term. I think about shipping and I think about our business and I fundamentally believe that all products will be on demand and that things will be automated and it’ll be more of a replenishment. If there is something that I can eliminate or automate, or delegate, I tend to, to ask myself some of those key questions. And we will continue as a society to simplify things because I think people are shifting back to really enjoying convenience and simplicity and really valuing life More in a different lens than we have.

Alexander Ferguson 10:03
That concludes the audio version of this episode. To see the original and more, visit our UpTech Report YouTube channel. If you know a tech company we should interview you can nominate them at Or if you just prefer to listen, make sure you’re subscribed to this series on Apple podcasts, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app.



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