Did you know that there are nearly 90,000 successfully funded projects on Kickstarter? Each of these projects has reached out to the public, raised the capital they needed, and achieved their dreams — well almost. The next thing that each of these companies will have to do is make sure the promised product gets shipped out on time. But that can get pretty expensive, especially with the current choices companies face.
Shotput thinks it has a better solution, and not for the crowdfunding market either. This Y Combinator-backed company wants to help small- to medium-sized businesses with their logistics challenges, based on what works for the companies. Shotput cofounder James Steinberg describes it as “Amazon Web Services for fulfillment” in that his service can scale to meet the needs of any company’s products.
Companies that need fulfillment assistance can go to Shotput’s website, enter in their product information–including the weight, size, and amount–and the service will tell you the cost. It’s pay as you go, so there’s no long-term contract. Steinberg claims that his service is better than a typical warehouse as the latter may give you a quote, but once your product arrives, that rate could change and end up costing you more.
Shotput will handle freight to and from the fulfillment center and shipping. Once an order has been placed, the company will pick up your product from the manufacturer and deliver it to the one of its partner warehouses in the U.S. — the closest one to the company’s bulk of customers. The average time for shipping from manufacturer to warehouse and then to customer is approximately 10 days — Steinberg says that the warehouses aren’t for long-term storage, just short-term distribution to customers.
Costs for shipping will obviously vary based on your needs, but Shotput charges a flat margin for every transaction (Steinberg declined to provide specifics).
What makes this service interesting is that it could provide first-time product creators an affordable way to distribute their goods and services without having to pay commercial rates with UPS, FedEx, DHS, or any similar offering that is more suitably priced for larger companies.
Shotput has raised some funding from Y Combinator and Idea Ventures. It has a staff of three people, including Steinberg and his cofounder Praful Mathur. The service operates within the U.S., but is hoping to grow to Canada and Europe within the year. If you happen to be manufacturing your product overseas, Steinberg says that ShotPut will pick up your product from a port and provide service from there.
The company integrates with Shopify and has an API, which should help companies quickly pass along their shipping orders to ShotPut for fulfillment.
If you’re interested in testing out Shotput, the company is offering VentureBeat readers a deal on shipping. Go to this website, snap a photo of your product, and Shotput will cover all the costs to deliver your product to five customers.