When Carlos walked into one of our Club Investible social events last year, it was impossible to not notice him.
He carried himself with boundless enthusiasm and had a unique approachable quality about him. It took only a few short moments for him to be engrossed in a conversation, sporting a grin from ear to ear as he enquired further into the stories of those around him.
Carlos Ferri, the CEO and founder of logistics software company Shipeezi, has built a career out of being interested in people, spotting gaps, and saying yes to opportunities. Today, Shipeezi gives companies like Country Road and Maersk complete visibility over the entire supply chain from warehouse to door.
Shipeezi’s growth trajectory has been sloping upward, with 21 new employees joining the team in 2022. The company’s success springs from a concoction of teamwork, skill and insight, but the story really begins when Carlos took on a delivery gig and kept saying yes.
When recounting the company’s origin, Carlos wound the clock back to 2009 when he touched down in Australia after leaving his homeland of Brazil. He didn’t speak any English and everything around him was foreign. Carlos laughs when recalling a confused commute that ended with him walking 17 blocks to his first job.
Little did he know that this misshapen adventure would parallel the life of every founder launching an early-stage business.
Falling Upward into Entrepreneurship
Carlos bounced between washing cars, bartending, and studying until a friend noticed the effect of the 4am shift finishes and suggested a new job at a transport company. It was here that Carlos’s entrepreneurial itch revealed itself.
“I went to the CEO and said, ‘Customer service of your company is not good. Let me work in the office with you and I’m sure I can improve it.’ She didn’t believe me so three weeks later I bought my first truck and went to quit. When I did, she asked me to be a contractor for her.”
Carlos now owned a link in the supply chain. It was this foothold that sparked his entrepreneurial journey. Carlos went on to establish and sell a removals business, found a recruitment company for the removals industry, and develop and implement a warehousing system for one of Australia’s most recognised removals companies.
This significant business experience struck a chord with customers when he launched Shipeezi. He wasn’t a tech guy in logistics; he was a logistics guy in tech.
Could you start a company in 150-Hours?
After building his logistics business, Carlos was contacted by Maersk (the largest container shipping line and vessel operator in the world) to create an all-in-one platform to make their shipments visible easily. At 7 in the morning, he sat down with their team and the timeline for presenting an MVP was set for 72 hours.
Within minutes he was on the phone with two of his trusted developers and, after a visionary pep talk, the project began.
72 hours passed. The presentation happened. Maersk loved it.
“Can we start using it in another 72 hours?”
Panic ensued. Another phone call to the developers. Another 72-hour sprint.
Just like that, Shipeezi was born.
Building high-value partnerships early in a business’s life is a rarity but Carlos's experience set him apart.
“We work with enterprises. Some of them are present in 25+ countries. The staff come to us and say ‘We've got 180,000 shipments coming through Australia and we are paying 50 million in fees. How can we cut this?’
As logistics people working in tech, we know how to fix the problem. Somebody else in tech might look at adding more product features or leaning into what’s trendy. We focus on the problem.”
The Value of Mentors, Giving Back, and Your Support Network
Carlos has adopted a razor-sharp focus in his mentality when searching for his village of advisors and active supporters . “A good mentor is just as good as the quality of the questions that they ask.”
“They ask hard questions and they’re there for the ups and downs, but we always come back on a high note.”
It isn’t one-sided, though. Carlos also knows that good support structures are concentric. It’s about seeking support from mentors, creating a supportive experience in your team, and finding ways to give back to the wider community that align with your purpose.
This drive to create a positive impact and culture within his team stems from the tragic loss of his first son. Carlos recalled the experience of processing that grief while running a business.
“People wanted to comfort me but, to be honest, that wasn’t what I needed. We need someone like one of my employees who came to me, gave me a hug, walked away and said ‘If you ever need me, you know where to find me.’ I was thinking about giving up and going back to Brazil but then I walked upstairs and asked myself what my calling was.”
This was a catalyst for Carlos as a leader. He realised he couldn’t be two different people at work and at home. He embodies that in the culture of Shipeezi’s team, in his work as an Austrade mentor, and in his motivation to help newcomers to Australia make it work.
Breaking the Fragmentation in Logistics
The Shipeezi team have aimed to bridge the fragmentation in the supply chain since the company’s inception. In the last year, the companies that work with them have seen proof that their platform does exactly that.
Shipeezi are doubling down on this, opening their first office in the USA and beginning a search for a high-level US-based staff member. Stepping into 2023, Shipeezi have big expansion plans and are continuing to snowball the momentum and growth they’ve experienced.
For Carlos, he has his own passion projects in the work for the future. A lover of whiskey, he started producing a single malt down in Tasmania and dreams of releasing his own whiskey brand on his 50th birthday. He dreams of the day he gets to share interesting stories with people over a glass of his own whiskey; a way to honour the memory of his son and remember the value of quality time amongst the busy life of a founder.