uShip’s focus is bringing game-changing new tech and logistics to the old school game of getting stuff from one place to another.
So, in a sense, it’s fitting that the startup’s new headquarters on Riverside, just east of Congress Ave., involved repurposing an abandoned vocational school building, integrating used shipping containers and blending those older elements with a sleek, modern design that encourages collaboration and accommodates growth.
Founded by Matt Chasen, Jay Manickam and Mickey Millsap in 2004, uShip now has 220 employees in Austin. Until recently, the company was split between two downtown buildings.
uShip’s teams navigate a large swath of business types, including consumer shipping, commercial shipping and, now, following a big investment by European logistics giant DB Schenker, enterprise SaaS.
“When you’re separated across multiple buildings, human nature takes over and you’re not as interactive,” CEO Mike Williams told me on a tour of the HQ. “So, that’s what we’re going for with this space,” he said, showing a huddle area with a few soft benches, a smart screen and white board to take down ideas.
Now, the company is under one roof, which Williams says is already paying off as team members collaborate more across departments.
Williams said he recently set up an all-hands meeting, the first in a while, in which uShip brought in three of its investors. And Williams said he likes having everyone in the same building because it makes it easier to connect with employees more regularly and casually, often over lunch in the company cafeteria or by dropping into departmental meetings.
The new building, which is an expansion of the former Capital City Trade and Technical School, is 45,000 square feet and was designed by Chioco Designs.
It has 14 conference rooms, including three that are stacked like shipping containers and others inside of repurposed cargo containers. There’s a big room with bike racks, locker rooms with showers and a game room with ping-pong and a few retro arcade games.
The company has two surface parking lots, and it offers employees a $100-a-month green credit if they walk, take the bus or bike. There’s a bus stop a few yards from the front door.
The new HQ also has a full industrial gourmet kitchen where company chef Ella Adams and sous chef Denise Dawson prepare lunch Monday through Thursday and breakfast on Fridays. The company says it goes through 120 pounds of coffee, 10 cases of bananas, 250 pounds of carrots and 160 pounds of greens each month.
Meanwhile, Williams said one of the best parts of working at uShip is that employees are often hired for one job and develop interest in other aspects of the business and quickly move up or across departments.
Currently, uShip handles 15,000 bids per day by thousands of shipping providers. It’s working with eBay, Ritchie Bros and other players large and small that need to move things from one location to another. It’s most prominent new partner is DB Schenker, which invested $25 million in uShip in February.
“We’re a company of scale so we can develop that employee and provide an opportunity for them,” Williams said. “As long as you have good values are oriented for results and have high respect and integrity, we’ll work with you and find a great place to land.”
Photos by Brent Wistrom and courtesy images from uShip.