Retail Worlds

Ben Askew-Renaut is CEO and co-founder at Packlink, an online parcel shipping platform which recently raised $12.6 million in Series C investment, led by Eight Roads Ventures. Existing investor Accel Partners and founding investor, Active Venture Partners also participated in the round, bringing Packlink’s total funding to date to $24.9 million. The startup was founded in 2012 and has operations in Spain, Germany, France and Italy. It currently integrates with more than 20 partners (including DHL, UPS and TNT) offering 300 different services. The investment will be used to further strengthen its marketplace and e-commerce businesses

RS: How did you get into the technology sector?
BAR: I've always been involved in technology - in logistics, distribution and ERP software. I thought it would be interesting to take that technology further to service consumers and online merchants. Our main focus is developing and building a technology platform that can harness hundreds of carrier services, and make them available to consumers as well as merchants wherever they happen to be selling their products.

RS: Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
BAR: No doubt who this person is in my mind…my father. He is a great businessman, the best salesman I've ever come across, and one of the nicest people you'll ever meet.

RS: Who in the sector inspires you and why?
BAR: I don't actually find the shipping sector has brought about inspirational leaders in recent years. The sector is really in need of innovation and disruption to live up to consumer and buyer expectations in terms of quality and transparency. I'd like to think that Packlink will be inspirational in the way it will improve the shipping experience.

RS: Which IT professional do you most admire?

BAR: I learnt a great deal from a former colleague of mine, Mark Hawksley, a great IT professional currently working at Tecsys, a Canadian ERP company. He would get my vote.

RS: Is there anything that you dislike or that frustrates you about the sector?
BAR: The shipping sector itself depends on physical networks, is labour intensive and tends to move slowly. Shaking up the industry to bring it up to speed with the expectations of e-commerce can be a challenge. Nowadays you expect the shipping experience to be as good as the buying experience. We want to enable merchants to meet those standards.

RS: What technology can't you live without?
BAR: Probably my internet connection! A recent survey I saw showed that when people were presented with the choice between losing a finger or never being able to connect to the internet again, they preferred to have their finger chopped off. When you think about it, it's not that easy a decision.

RS: How do you relax?
BAR: Spending time with my kids and doing some sport.

RS: What was your last retail experience both online and on the High Street and were they positive experiences?
BAR: The last thing I bought online was a pair of blue crocs that I wear around the office. I think they look very cool, even though I've been told otherwise. I don't remember my last offline purchase - I buy almost everything online and I think physical shops will for the most part disappear one day. Buy online and have it shipped!

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