If you ever visit family abroad, they probably ask you to bring a few United States products across the border. After observing this behavior for years, Karla Valdivieso, founder and CEO of Shappi, tried something out. On her way home to Ecuador from Miami, she posted to Instagram asking if anyone wanted anything—for a fee. She was quickly flooded with enough requests to fill her luggage allowance, and after a few more international trips, her company was born.
Shappi empowers Latin American consumers to obtain U.S. products in a faster, more affordable, and more reliable way than ever before. We’re excited to fund Shappi to help them expand as part of a $2M seed round ahead of their Series A. The future of travelogistics in Latin America is looking bright.
A marketplace connecting travelers and shoppers
Shappi delivers United States products to Latin American consumers, but they aren’t your average logistics company. Rather than using trucks or shipping containers, Shappi leverages individual travelers and their empty luggage space. They effectively turn international travelers into gig workers, with every flight back from the United States becoming an opportunity to earn.
How Shappi works
Shappi’s mobile app experience caters to both shoppers and travelers. As a shopper, you’re prompted to provide a link to the item you’re interested in purchasing. It can be from any reputable online store in the United States. Shappi then uses its fee algorithm to determine a delivery fee, which you pay immediately to submit a request. Your request is then routed to a Verified Traveler with upcoming plans to be in your home country.
Verified Travelers provide a shipping address, then shoppers go ahead and buy the items online. Once the items arrive to the traveler, they pack them up, get on a flight, and deliver them to a designated location in the shopper’s home country. From start to finish, this process typically takes about two weeks.
The delivery fee is the company’s current business model. Shappi takes a 30% cut of this fee, and the rest goes to the traveler. For shoppers, this fee is well worth it when compared to the alternative of buying locally or waiting to find someone who happens to be going to the United States.
Demand is clear: the company currently has over 250,000 users, up from 80,000 on the platform in January. They have processed over 10,000 deliveries. Currently operating in Ecuador and Colombia, Shappi projects over $1M in annual recurring revenue to close out the year.
Why Sweater invested
Last year, over 50 billion dollars of consumer goods were transported from the United States to Latin America alone. Shappi is operating in an undoubtedly massive market, but that’s not the only reason we’re excited to back them.
Strong Founder-Market Fit
Karla Valdivieso, the founder and CEO of Shappi, has been heavily involved in the LatAm startup ecosystem for more than 10 years. She started KOMLEP, a product factory in Ecuador, which helped entrepreneurs go from idea to execution. Through her experience there, she built a competitive understanding of the obstacles surrounding international logistics.
On top of her entrepreneurial background, Karla has personally faced the struggle of international shipping. She has unique insight into the logistic behaviors of LatAm residents. Leveraging her knowledge, Karla has made it her mission to make LatAm a better place by improving international logistics.
Innovation in Travelogistics
As we noted above, Shappi is tapping into a massive market. What makes it interesting to us is the intersection of consumer demand and international logistics. The team is capitalizing on touchpoints that already exist between travelers, products, and their home countries with simplified logistics, technology, and trust. This creates a substantial growth opportunity with an innovative step forward in the developing ecosystem around travelogistics.
Shappi is pioneering a whole new world of travelogistics, and this latest round of funding is just the beginning. In the upcoming quarters, they plan to expand geographically within Latin America, in addition to developing new products that will make international shopping even more convenient. If you have family in Latin America, save your luggage space and let them know about Shappi.
And if you’re interested in learning more about how you can invest in Shappi and other early-stage companies poised to shape the future of how we live, download the Sweater app today.