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Why Did Shyp Fail?

Shyp was a pioneer in the on-demand shipping industry. It offered convenient pickup and delivery services for customers who needed to ship items.

Despite its promising start and innovative business model, Shyp ultimately failed and shut down operations in 2018.

This post will delve into the reasons behind Shyp’s downfall, analyzing the strategic missteps and market forces that led to its demise.

We’ll explore the lessons that can be learned from Shyp’s experience, offering insights for entrepreneurs and businesses operating in the on-demand economy.

The Rise and Fall of Shyp

Shyp was founded in 2013 by Kevin Gibbon and Joshua Scott. The company’s innovative approach allowed customers to schedule pickups for their items through a mobile app. Shyp’s couriers would then collect the items, package them, and ship them via major carriers like FedEx or UPS.

The concept resonated with consumers, and Shyp quickly gained traction, raising over $60 million in venture capital funding.

However, despite its initial success, the company struggled to achieve profitability and ultimately ceased operations in 2018.

Lack of a Sustainable Business Model

One of the primary reasons for Shyp’s failure was its inability to develop a sustainable business model.

The company’s revenue model relied heavily on charging a flat rate for pickups and packaging, in addition to the shipping costs charged by carriers.

This pricing structure proved challenging, as the shipping costs frequently exceeded the flat pickup fee, especially for smaller packages.

Additionally, the average order value was relatively low, making it difficult for Shyp to generate sufficient revenue to offset its operational expenses.

Operational Challenges and High Costs

Shyp’s operational model was complex and labor-intensive. The company employed a network of couriers who had to physically pick up items, transport them to warehouses for packaging, and then hand them off to shipping carriers.

This process involved significant overhead costs, including:

  • Courier wages and benefits
  • Leasing and maintaining warehouses
  • Packaging materials and supplies
  • Transportation and logistics expenses

Despite efforts to streamline operations and reduce costs, Shyp struggled to achieve the necessary economies of scale to make its business model financially viable.

Competition from Industry Giants

Another factor that contributed to Shyp’s downfall was the intense competition it faced from established industry giants like FedEx, UPS, and the United States Postal Service (USPS).

These companies had several inherent advantages over Shyp, including:

  • Existing infrastructure and logistics networks
  • Economies of scale
  • Brand recognition and customer loyalty
  • Ability to offer competitive shipping rates

As a result, Shyp found it challenging to differentiate its offering and compete effectively on price and convenience.

Expansion Woes and Capital Constraints

In an attempt to accelerate growth and achieve profitability, Shyp embarked on an aggressive expansion strategy, rapidly expanding its operations to multiple cities across the United States.

However, this rapid expansion proved to be a costly endeavor, straining the company’s financial resources and operational capabilities. Shyp struggled to manage the complexities of scaling its business model across multiple markets, leading to inefficiencies and higher costs.

Additionally, the company faced challenges in securing additional funding from investors, who grew increasingly skeptical of Shyp’s ability to achieve profitability in the face of mounting losses and intense competition.

Ignoring Investor Advice and Customer Focus

In hindsight, CEO Kevin Gibbon admitted to key mistakes like not heeding investor advice to focus on small businesses instead of individual customers.

Shyp insisted on growing around infrequent shippers attracted to the $5 fee, rather than exploring more profitable customer segments.

The On-Demand Economy’s Profitability Question

Shyp’s demise highlighted a major question facing the on-demand market – whether companies can achieve profitability while offering extremely low fees that attract customers.

As Gibbon noted, “the popular but unprofitable parts of our business” were mistakes. However, the path to making on-demand profitable remains unclear.

Key Takeaways and Lessons Learned

The failure of Shyp offers several valuable lessons for entrepreneurs and businesses operating in the on-demand economy:

  1. Develop a sustainable revenue model: Companies must carefully assess their pricing strategies and ensure that their revenue streams can support their operational costs and generate a reasonable profit margin.
  2. Manage operational complexity: Labor-intensive and logistically complex business models can be challenging to scale and maintain profitability, especially in the face of competition from established players.
  3. Differentiate and carve out a defensible niche: In highly competitive markets, it is essential to differentiate your offering and establish a defensible niche that cannot be easily replicated by larger competitors.
  4. Exercise caution with rapid expansion: While growth is important, premature or over-aggressive expansion can strain resources and lead to operational inefficiencies, potentially jeopardizing the long-term viability of the business.
  5. Maintain a disciplined approach to capital allocation: Companies should carefully manage their capital resources and avoid over-extending themselves financially, especially in the face of mounting losses and uncertain prospects for profitability.
  6. Heed investor advice: Investors often have valuable perspectives on strategic issues like target customers and revenue streams.
  7. Evolving the model: Continually assess and pivot the business model as needed to remain competitive and viable.


Q: What was Shyp’s unique service offering? A: Shyp allowed customers to get items picked up from their home, packaged, and shipped by major carriers for just a $5 flat fee per pickup, marketed as the “Uber of deliveries.”

Q: Why did Shyp’s $5 pricing model become problematic? A: The $5 fee often didn’t cover actual shipping costs, especially for small packages. Combined with high operational expenses, it became difficult to generate enough revenue to sustain the business.

Q: What role did investor advice play in Shyp’s failures? A: Investors advised focusing on higher-volume small business customers instead of infrequent individual shippers, but Shyp ignored this in favor of chasing rapid consumer growth.

Q: How did expansion impact Shyp’s downfall? A: Overly aggressive expansion across multiple cities strained resources and created operational inefficiencies before achieving sustainable scale in its core markets.

Q: What are the key lessons from Shyp’s failure? A: Developing sustainable revenue models, managing operational complexity, finding a defensible niche, heeding investor guidance, balancing growth and profitability, continually evolving the model, and disciplined capital allocation.

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