Q: What’s a pirate’s favorite letter?
A: ARRrrr. But he spends years at C.
When you’re a business using Pirate Ship’s free shipping software you hear a bit of pirate speak and more than a few such jokes from employees.
“They inject fun into an incredibly boring task,” said “Cap’n” Bjorn Borstelmann, CEO of the Jackson company that recently became Silicon Couloir’s top corporate sponsor (see box).
“If you get to talk like a pirate and read some fun pirate jokes while you’re doing your shipping it can put a smile on your face every day,” he said.
The cost savings on shipping that the company offers through its partnership with the Postal Service are no joke, though.
“Pirate Ship is cloud-based software to buy postage from the U.S. Postal Service for shipping packages at the deepest discounts possible,” Borstelmann said. “We’re allowing small businesses access to the same rates that Fortune 500 companies get.”
Customers can print their own labels, so there’s no waiting in line at the post office, and import their orders from eBay, Etsy, Shopify and other e-commerce sites into the Pirate Ship software.
“We find small businesses when they are starting,” Borstelmann said. “We help advise them on what kinds of packing they should select and how to save the most money.”
Kelli LeClair said Pirate Ship has been a “game changer” for her jewelry business, Heritage Style (ShopHeritageStyle.com; @heritage.style on Instagram).
Most of the orders the 3-year-old Lander business receives come from outside Wyoming, so shipping is a big part of her life.
“I was doing everything manually, typing out all my shipping labels on PhotoShop,” LeClair said. “I was spending an hour and half at the post office every morning waiting for them to manually process each label. It was just inefficient.”
LeClair’s volume was so high the Postal Service office in Denver called her.
“They recommended Pirate Ship to me,” she said.
In addition to reclaiming her time, “I’m saving almost a dollar a package now,” LeClair said. That adds up “when you’re mailing out 30 packages a day.”
And, she said, “their customer service is really good. ... They understand that shipping is a really important part of our business.”
Bubba Albrecht, CEO of Give’r, said Pirate Ship played a critical role last winter when the Jackson-based outdoor clothing and accessories company (Give-r.com) fulfilled orders for its new pullover after a successful Kickstarter funding campaign.
Give’r sent out 2,000 shipments in seven days just before Christmas. With Pirate Ship the job went “from incredibly scary and virtually impossible to where we were able to swing it,” Albrecht said.
Give’r was able to generate scan sheets with 500 shipments each. That meant each package didn’t need to be individually processed, which Albrecht said “would be like paying for a vehicle in pennies.”
Give’r also achieved “huge” cost savings it passed on to customers, Albrecht said. Because it had worked with Borstelmann in the fall, Give’r had a good read on what postage would cost for its crowdfunding orders. Surprises about that expense hurt a lot of Kickstarter campaigns, Albrecht said.
“To not know what the cost is going to be and, wham, it costs $15 to ship and not $2 — that happens a lot,” he said. “That was an area where we had confidence in what we were doing.”
And the pirate jokes didn’t hurt.
“You need a chuckle when you’re about to pull your hair out because of a shipping issue,” Albrecht said.
When Borstelmann started the company in 2014 it was important for him that it be fun. In addition to going by “Cap’n” Bjorn — it’s on his business card and in press releases — he starts emails with “Ahoy” and ends with “ARRrrr.”
“Creativity is one of the most important traits you can have in business,” Borstelmann said. “Otherwise everything is very cookie cutter and vanilla.”
Inside every entrepreneur, he said, is a little bit of pirate: “You’re trying to rebel against the 9 to 5 and find your own freedom,” he said.
Borstelmann is excited about what Pirate Ship and other tech companies can do for Wyoming entrepreneurs and the state’s economy. He grew up in Alta and remembers the days when a 24K modem was a big deal.
Today the internet enables small or home-based businesses in rural areas to “access the entire world,” he said. But they can’t afford to pay the same postage rates as someone mailing a package to grandma.
“If you’re trying to start a business you can’t compete with Amazon or other e-commerce companies if you’re paying retail pricing,” he said.