13
Sep

Shmuel RubashkinShmuel Rubashkin is the co-founder of Easybox, which connects the virtual world and the real world,  providing convenient pickup point for online purchases. Though many people just focus on the online shopping experience, such as UI, UX, and Web design, his idea improve the experience after the online shopping. He shared valuable information for current and future entrepreneurs with Masaaki Hasegawa, alumni of Master in Visual Media 2013. This is not something that you can learn from reading Harvard Business Review.

 

MH: First of all, thank you for taking time time today for us to learn about real entrepreneurship. 

SR: Thank you Masaaki for the interview. I’m excited to reach out to the IE alumni especially at this time as EasyBox is looking to other countries to provide the service and for local partners to lead the effort. I would be very happy to touch base with alumni members, receive your comments, and explore opportunities. Please contact me at Shmuel@easybox.co.il or via Linkedin.

 

MH: In order for the reader to better understand your venture, give us the most powerful important aspects of your service.

SR:In one line, we provide convenient pickup points for online purchases.

In order to get a good feeling for what aspects of the service are the strongest it might be best to start at the beginning.  When I was a student in NY I sold things on eBay to boost my income. As sales picked up, I found myself dealing with logistical issues more and more. Packages of supplies arrived at my apartment when I was out. Sending packages at the Post Office or waiting for pickups was a real hassle. I knew something had to change when packages started to get lost…

My brother David had a local store nearby. David’s business, like most businesses was accustomed to dealing with the mail. When David agreed to help, things got much easier. I was able to send and receive packages from the store without having to worry about missed deliveries or long lines. Here is a short and humorous video that demonstrates the issue.

Our mission is to make sending and receiving package a simple task that can be done from any place anytime and in line with ecommerce.

The major benefit of the service is that it is designed with the end user in mind. Customers don’t have to worry about being home or make changes to their schedules. Their packages wait for them at a neighborhood store that is open very early and late.

 

MH: To better understand, would you explain more about the revenue stream? Who pays for what?

EasyBox partners with websites and shipping companies to offer online shoppers convenient pickup points. The websites and shipping companies pay a per package fee.  Websites can now offer their customers an easier way to receive packages and improve the shopping experience and shipping companies can reduce missed deliveries and second deliveries needed.

 

MH: How did you come up with the idea of making small stores and shops your mailbox to receive packages.

SR: We realized that local grocery stores would gain the most by offering their neighbors the service as it would increase foot traffic and sales. From our pilot we confirmed that most people make a purchase when visiting a store. Consider the busy urban dweller picking up a package after work. There are always some basics needed at home like milk or bread.

 

MH: What was the first step to launch that idea?

SR: We had a chicken and egg dilemma: we needed stores to serve as pickup points but the stores wanted to see people coming into their stores. To get people we needed websites to start offering our service on their website for which we need stores. So we created a PO Box that allowed people to send us packages and we delivered those packages to the stores. This way we didn’t need websites and started with the stores. Once we had stores we were able to get the early adapting websites to join us.

 

MH: How did you convince small-size stores to partner with you?

SR: At first people thought the idea was crazy. “Informed” people said that shelf space is very expensive with major brands paying extra for premium space. While that is true our value proposition is more in line with products that bring people into the store in the first place.  But that’s not the really the pitch the works…

What really improved our pitch was when we found out that many local stores already receive packages for their best customers. They do this favor to keep their customers happy. We tell the stores we simply increase the number of people that they already do this favor for in order to gain more customers. It might seem like semantics but it’s very different than pitching a new concept versus something they already do.

 

MH: How did you negotiate with UPS?

SR: I went to an ecommerce conference and approached UPS’s VP of Marketing. I told him what we were doing and he agreed to a meeting.

I thought long and hard about why UPS would need us? Frankly the answer was not simple. UPS has more people, resources and technology than we can hope for.

At the start of the meeting, before I could make any small talk, the VP asks me so explain what you guys doing again? I tell him how I was an eBay seller and getting packages became frustrating… He tells me, “you are telling me about missed deliveries”? and starts sharing the averages about missed deliveries with me.  Suffice to say, most people aren’t home waiting for packages…

 

MH: What was the most difficult part of getting started?

SR: I think each point has its difficult challenges, first was getting a team of people that would go the distance. Co-founders need to share and own the dream and work to make it happen.

Why did you decide to be an entrepreneur instead of working for a company that would offer more stability?

I enjoy being passionate about what I do and the thought that we can improve things is exciting to me. More and more people I speak to these days are looking for work that satisfies them beyond the title and salary. We spend too much time working to ignore what we actually accomplish at our jobs. While this could also be the case in a large company, with a venture it is in our hands to make it happen.

 

MH: Israel is often described as “Start-up Nation”, do you think the location is an important factor to start a new business? Why did you choose Tel-Aviv?

SR: I think the location is important as people around you will be more supportive and willing to help. In Israel the market really needs a new service and it made it easier to launch. Additionally, the small size of the country allowed us to partner with local stores and websites without having to start by partnering with a major shipping company. On a more practical level we needed a proof of concept before we started exploring oversea options.

 

 

MH: Would you describe the three most important factors of being an entrepreneur?

SR:

  • Passion to see the idea come into fruition: regardless of reward. It is important to care that the concept happens from a deep place inside.
  • Self-starter: there are a lot things to do. The ability to stay at it and keep taking care of the most important tasks is essential.
  • Make it happen one step at a time: You need to excite people and get people on board because grand plans only go so far. Make it happen in small steps that will help build momentum for the next most important steps.

 

MH: For people who cannot take the first step to create their own business for the fear of failure, what would you say to them?

SR: Experiment: sell something on eBay or a service on Fiverr.com and see how you feel about it. Selling things online was exhilarating for me. Read The Lean Startup to see how to go about building a startup. Read the Innovator’s Dilemma to see why large companies need startups. Start a small project. Work at a startup. Ironically, starting a venture is the best investment you could make in your CV. You will prove to be passionate, motivated, able to take risks, make decisions and actually get cool things done.

 

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