Interview with Jacob Corlett, CEO and Founder at Man & Van Services Company: Shift

Shift is a British-based technology company that I founded in 2017. Our aim is to transform the delivery and logistics industry through a tech-based platform, creating an on-demand marketplace. We are able to offer consumers and businesses a lower-cost service via smart algorithms that filter through the pre-existing routes of registered independent drivers and fleets of vehicles. This allows us to quickly locate best-suited drivers in order to facilitate jobs in the most efficient way – in terms of cost, time, and customer convenience – and with environmental benefits too.

Since inception, we have built up a strong team of c.100 employees, many of whom are software engineers, and have established a UK network of 12,000+ drivers on the platform, facilitating cost-effective deliveries for thousands of consumers and businesses every day. While we operate in the UK today, our platform is scalable, and we have global ambitions.
 
 
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How did you come up with the idea for the company?

 
The first business that I started was an asset-heavy moving company with operations solely in London. We learned first-hand the challenges these companies face, in terms of the downtime of fleets, empty-leg journeys and low margins. With my background in tech, I recognised that these challenges could be solved with a platform that aggregates the supply of existing fleets.

At the same time, it was becoming rapidly apparent that consumer expectations were changing and there became a need for an on-demand, bulky-goods delivery service. Today, this trend towards on-demand services is highly visible in our day-to-day lives, with many other areas of lifestyle being personalised for consumer convenience, from food delivery, taxis, healthcare etc. The logistics market is ripe for disruption and we have developed a unique business model that fits very well within the ecosystem and within today’s consumer expectations.
 

 

How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

 
Shift has experienced phenomenal growth in the last 18 months, and this has been driven not only by B2C demand, as awareness of our service offering among consumers increases, but also through our newer B2B operations. We always saw the establishing of a B2B service as part of the natural evolution of our operations, and therefore the longer-term plan.

Covid-19 forced retailers to reconsider their supply chains and logistics infrastructure, which are facing additional pressures given the boom in e-commerce. With our low-cost, on-demand logistics solution, established network of independent and fleet drivers, and the sustainability benefits that our algorithm allows by fulfilling spare capacity rather than putting additional drivers on the road, we were well placed to provide support.

As such we are now working with the likes of IKEA, which recognised the benefits of the Shift platform for fulfilling their customers’ delivery requirements.
 

What can we hope to see from Shift in the future?

 
As an ambitious technology company with first-mover advantage. Growth is our priority, and one of the benefits of our business model is that we offer an asset-light growth strategy. Both the B2C and B2B opportunities are significant and, as our brand becomes a household name, we expect to significantly grow Gross Marketplace Value, increase the number of drivers on the platform, and support an increasing number of businesses such as retailers.

Beyond myself, we have a highly driven executive management team that is supported by experienced senior team members recruited from the likes of Deliveroo, Gett and other successful tech start-ups. We already have the support of the well-known London venture capital investor, Fuel Ventures, and believe that the future is very exciting for our business and our shareholders.