Ep. 64: Optimizing Customized Packaging Solutions – James Malley, CEO & Co-Founder of Paccurate

Learn more about Paccurate at: https://paccurate.io/
Find James Malley on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jmalley/

JC: Welcome, everybody to another episode of The Future of this tech. I’m your host, JC Granger. And I have another fantastic guest on the show with us today. And listen, if you end up loving this episode, please show your love and appreciation by following this podcast, wherever you’re listening and, you know, get a five star review, put some nice comments in there, because that is how other techies like you and I find cool podcasts like this. And today I have the pleasure of interviewing James Malley, the founder and CEO of Paccurate. James, thank you so much for being on the show. Tell the audience a little bit about yourself and what it is that Paccurate does.

James: Sure. Hi, Hello, thank you for having me. Like you said, I’m the Co-Founder over at Paccurate. We are a carbonization software provider, which is kind of a mouthful, but it basically just means that the packages that show up on your doorstep, we help retailers and other shippers. Make sure those boxes are as efficiently packed as possible so they can save money and reduce their carbon footprint.

JC: That’s actually not a small thing. Right? I mean, here’s the I Am One those habitual, like every two days is Christmas for me, because my Amazon packages come now obviously Amazon does their own. But I also some of the best things I ever buy are from Instagram ads, right Shopify stores, essentially. Right? So do you work with more Shopify companies? Or is it individual wholesale retailers? Like, who’s your kind of your perfect client that uses Paccurate?

James: It’s kind of all across the board, honestly. And in terms of size as well. So we have some customers that ship, you know, 4 or 5000 packages, you know, a month, and others that do that every half hour, so it’s kind of all over the place.

JC: Now, okay, so then you guys are outsourced or you outsourced? I mean, like, for example, if someone is selling on Amazon, and they’re not using FBA, right, Fulfillment by Amazon, they’re selling it, but the packages could be packaged from you guys still. Is that an option they have?

James: Yes. So we’re pure software. So we don’t actually do any of the packing?

JC: I’m sorry. I meant can they use your software? Oh, yes. Initiate that. My apologies. Phrased that incorrectly.

James: Well, I only mentioned it because we do get that, that question sometimes. But pretty much wherever this shipment originates, is where our software runs, and it looks at what’s being shipped out and looks at, you know, the cost implications of picking this box, these boxes, etc. And then it shows packing instructions with a 3D visual on a screen typically at that pack station, so the operator can put it together.

JC: That’s awesome. Well, what motivated you to start the company? Did you work in an industry and you’re like, This is crap, this could be done better? Or was it just an idea you had over beers with a friend like, you know, just what’s that origin story. And it’s

James: kind of like all of the above. My Co-Founder, who’s our CTO now and kind of the architect of our core tech. We have been freelancing in the space for a while. So we would help shippers get their shipping systems set up and like integrate it into their other systems. And it was around that time that FedEx and UPS started penalizing poor packing more. So this was like 2017-2018, where we had some of these clients that we had had would say, Well, I’m getting absolutely hammered with these fees, you know, the features in my warehouse management system, etc, that are supposed to handle this are just like not working. What do we do? And Pat and I kind of at that point, we had been doing the freelancing thing for long enough that we were like, Let’s, we want to make something we own. We’re kind of tired of running around putting out other people’s fires all the time. And so we gave it a shot. And yeah, that’s kind of the origin story there. We didn’t get hit in the head by an apple or anything, it was more just listening to what our existing kind of customer or client base was telling us.

JC: I mean, that’s, that is more than one of the more common ways of course, right? I mean, a lot of people try to push something onto an audience or an industry, and they find it just falls flat. And they invest all this time and money. And the smart ones, like you were saying, you know, you listen first and see what people are asking for. Because they’ll tell you, right, you know, and you say, oh, okay, cool, I’ll just go build that thing. And then like, Great, thanks, you know,

James: we had, you know, kind of a few startup ideas in a prior part of our life. And, you know, they ended up being like, really kind of aspirational. And like, nobody asked for it. But we wanted to build something cool. This was very much the excitement kind of all came after once we actually got started to get data to start to get big users and see what the actual impact was of the thing we had made out of curiosity. So it was kind of a, you know, instead of like you said, sort of the eureka moment that kind of came later. 

JC: So, you know, I would imagine that someone listening to this podcast might be someone who’s thinking about getting into, you know, eat commerce and selling things online and stuff. You brought up something that I never thought about, that I hadn’t heard of before, which was that these major shipment carriers are penalizing for poor packaging. Can you clarify a little more about like, what does poor packaging look like? And how much does that cost companies? Right? Like, I mean, you’re helping solve a problem that some companies came across, I’m curious from the point of view of someone who’s about to get into it, so they don’t have that problem to begin with.

James: Sure, sure. So when you’re just starting out as an E-commerce seller, if you’re doing your own fulfillment, most of spent time starting out, you use a 3PL while you get things off the ground. But if you’re doing your own fulfillment..

JC: repeat for the audience who doesn’t know 3PL..

James: Third-party logistics company, like stored is a good example. There’s, you know, hundreds of these companies that you send them all your product, and they’ll pack it up and ship it based on the orders that you get. So pretty, like low startup costs, because you’re tapping into an existing network. And they’re a great option. But whether you want to try fulfilling yourself out of your garage, or, or maybe you’re coming out with like a big, huge overnight success product and you start opening warehouses, you might initially have the time on each shipment to like, be thoughtful about how you put it all together. But hopefully, you very soon hit a volume of orders, where there’s no time to really do these things carefully. And I think one of the things we’ve found is, it’s not really fair to put packing mistakes on the actual packing, the people doing the packing, because 99% of the time, their prime directive is to get all the orders out the door. That’s, you know, that’s really the most important thing these things have to get on a truck, especially because e-commerce customers expect speed now, thanks, Amazon. So having something in place that can provide a little instruction there takes the burden away from the people in the warehouse who would otherwise be responsible. Especially for a problem like this, which is so foundational to your kind of supply chain, it can be really important.

JC: So with somebody using your software be also be able to use and work with stored because you are saying that it provides instructions. So if someone was sending all their product to another company at 3PL, and they said, but hey, and then we run your software to say this is how to do it right so that we don’t have issues? Or do you find that there are barriers or walls in between that overlap?

James: We do partner with three peels and there are a couple of different ways three peels work, often you know, an e-commerce brand will pay for the shipping. And so there’s definitely more incentive for the brand to tell the 3PL like, look, I’m looking for any and all ways to lower my fulfillment costs here, you need to pack these things better, or in, you know, kind of the old school parlance. They might give them like a scorecard to say, you know, your average air per box is like 80%, you’re gonna need to get that down, or we’re looking for a new three PL. So it really depends on kind of the relationship and the deal you have with the three PL but we can you know, get plugged in pretty much anywhere.

JC: Do you have general average stats of you know, kind of like that one-liner, the elevator pitch of, you know, Paccurate saves on average x amount of cents or dollars per package sent with its efficiency and instruction?

James: Sure. 15% is the average saved on shipping costs, which is pretty good. And I don’t think we’ve ever saved any less than 6%, which is still you know, for a lot of our customers, that’s many millions of dollars, because transportation is incredibly expensive. For retailers so that’s kind of the headline number. But I think what we get more excited about is the material savings like other things that have more to do with scope three emissions reduction, I think our average cardboard saved is around a square foot per Carton, just by on average choosing smaller cartons. And you know, that can equal hundreds of acres of cardboard acres is sort of our favorite measuring stick for Material savings across you know, in the course of a month. So those are the fun numbers anyway. 

JC: So yeah talk about that then. So it sounds like you guys have an altruistic nature, obviously, as well, to your business. How much of that is a driver of the business? And is there any other than this being something that makes you happy? Is there anything that’s passed on to maybe not necessarily money-wise, right, cuz we already figured out the savings on the economic side. But I guess how important is the business on the environmental side? And are there any other benefits to focusing on that as a business?

James: Yeah, I mean, I would say our team is incredibly idealistic, and a lot of our kind of momentum. And energy is basically from those numbers looking at like, you know, pounds of co2 saved and all these things in terms of passing on, I mean, the emissions we reduce, would you say your audience is familiar with scope three emissions versus scope one and two?

JC: If any audience is going to know about it, it’d be mind because we’re all tech nerds. But maybe break it down a little bit more for the newer followers?

James: Sure, yeah. So there are different kinds of emissions that companies are responsible for. And scope one and two can happen inside your four walls. So if you’re, I don’t know, melting plastic and you’re in your office or something that’s probably one or two, as one does a scope three emissions are things that you do that cause outside of your four walls, there to be some sort of carbon impact. So yeah, exactly. So in shipping, it’s pretty straightforward. It’s, because I caused FedEx to use 100 trucks over this past year, which is still my scope, with three emissions. And that sounds, you know, like something, you know, we’re doing the best we can, we really are relying on our partnership with you know, FedEx in this case, to minimize those emissions. Legislation has come down in Europe, and that is coming here. And there’s actually a lot of momentum behind it to hold companies accountable for scope three emissions. So this is, you know, something that we’ve noticed, even in just the past few months, a lot of retailers looking for supply chain ESG initiatives, because that’s a supply chain is a huge source of social scope three emissions.

JC: Yeah, it’s interesting I look at it because like, you know, like when I’m buying an airplane ticket, right, I now see that though, there’s a line item for how much emissions now, I like transparency, just generally speaking, right? Regardless of the industry. I think the problem is that I think most people don’t look at that number, and that doesn’t mean anything to them. They don’t know, they’re maybe they’re happy to say okay, like, cool, but like there’s no real like, yet anyway, we’re not taught at an educational level, typically, by standard or even societally, you know, what is too much, you know, it’s this line on for carbon emission versus the other one, like, Okay, I know higher one is worse. Right. But if you just show me one, I don’t know if that’s good or bad. But I, I feel like with, with what you’re saying if the legislation is coming this way, whether people agree with it or not, it’s still going to create attention to it. And I look at it as a parallel to when nutrition facts came on to the food. Right? Yeah. People forget, like, I mean, I grew up with nutrition facts on food, you know, I’m 40 years old, but my parents probably didn’t, right? There was a time when it was just, here’s your food. And people had no idea. And even then, when those nutrition facts came out, there was probably a certain amount of time before people, they didn’t know what that meant, like, is that good? Is that bad? And over time, you start to get an idea, how long do you think it’ll be? Before an average person can look at a line item that is presented to them on something they purchase, where it shows carbon footprint, where they might actually understand how much of an effect that has, or how much it’s saved, or much better or worse.

James: I think that consumers that are already kind of sustainability-minded, probably within the next two years, will have a mechanism and might be, you know, regulated, like nutrition facts, where you know, not too long ago, or like 2%, zinc would, you know, or, you know, not understanding what that meant. I think, in general, the average person probably within the next five to seven years, will be able to tell anytime they order something, what the impact of that is going to be?

JC: Does your software, pass the positive impact stat to the seller, so that they can pass it on a receipt of some sort to the buyer?

James: Yes. And really, you know, what we do is twofold. So we do this real-time instruction. So you can think of this as like operational efficiency. The other side is analysis and simulation. So it allows our customers to, you know, select a big chunk of their shipping history, and then run simulations and say, Okay, what would it do to my, you know, cardboard, corrugated cardboard usage? If my flagship product was a quarter of an inch smaller? Or if I switched to these three PL or this carrier? How would my packing and emissions change?

So there’s, there’s like a planning element, but there’s like, here’s what is actually happening today. And all those stats, we, you know, make very visible and we’ll kind of actively point out, because, you know, if you care about sustainability, but you have, you know, bosses who are more about the bottom line, that’s what makes packing just like the great place to start because you are paying to pollute, like every cost associated with parcel fulfillment is also almost one to one associated with emissions. So you can keep it quiet that your motivation is, you know, being greener, and just highlight the dollar savings to your, your bosses or whoever it may be, or vice versa. You know, we have a few larger customers where we came in as part of an ESG initiative. And the dollar savings was kind of incidental. So yeah, that’s, that’s kind of why we nerd out about this specific problem.

JC: I think you bring up a good point about where, like, where people’s motivation lies, right? Like, I think a lot of companies are trying to go green, as a money-saving thing. See, at first Going Green was more expensive. So like, I have this, I have this opinion that, like oil companies will have no problem going green, when the numbers benefit their bottom line. Right? And other any other, you know, take any other type of industry, chemical plants, whatever. I think once the technology makes the numbers go in their favor, they’re following the numbers because not the the ultras depart or, you know, the forward thinking. And again, we can all have our opinions on that. What I’m saying is that what’s interesting, and what’s what’s nice to hear is that technology is advancing in that direction, there will be a tipping point soon, and it has hit in certain industries, where it actually is more beneficial to go into “green route” financially. But that’s just what, especially in America, right, that that is a large motivator for how our infrastructure is set up. You know, we are the, you know, there are other countries that maybe look, that’s why we didn’t start the legislation starts in Europe, right? And then they’re gonna test it out there, and then somebody will bring it here. But here’s what I think is interesting. Your company, your software, specifically, I think, will absolutely blow up here pretty in a good way, very soon, if what you’re saying about the legislation is true. And it comes here, because what I’ve seen as a pattern in our government, regardless of the party, is that tax incentives come with certain legislations. And if this one in particular, you’re talking about from Europe comes over here, there will probably be some sort of corporate tax incentive to adopt greener ideas. And your software is something that’s already available to procure that, right?

So I think that’s good for him. It’s great position for your company. It also has the benefit of being good for the planet, obviously. And, you know, we’re not perfect. You know, a lot of people talk about, like electric cars, and I’m like, Well, look, you stopped in mind for the batteries like, Yeah, but that’s not great. But it’s still better than our current one. Like, like, no one’s saying it’s great. No one said, Absolutely. There’s there’s no harm to the planet by creating that lien or going and mining the nickel or whatever lithium ion, you know, whatnot. No one disagrees that the process sucks, right? Well, if you just put them side by side, one has a higher chart, you know, number than the other. And it’s just, if we keep going that direction, then eventually maybe we get to something that can be a zeroed out, right? And that’s the goal, right? A net zero for that. Right? Cool. Okay, so let me ask you, how are you getting the word out? Like, how old is your company first? And then what are you doing? I’m a marketing guy, as you know, listen to my podcast, I always have to ask this question. So beyond first, how old are you? And then also, what are you guys doing to tell companies that you exist?

James: Sure. So we’re about five years old, my co founder, and I were noodling on it for a couple years before that. The pandemic is when we started to get big brands using our technology. And we kind of leveraged the success there to raise a seed round almost exactly a year ago. And that allowed us to grow the team and, you know, get some more marketing funding together. So we have kind of a multi prong approach. We do some digital marketing, and I would say it’s okay. It brings in folks like when they’re specifically looking for what we have..

JC: More inbound.

James: Yeah. And, you know, it’s a fairly niche, you know, make right sizing boxes is not a massively booming industry yet. So people are usually looking for something like what we have, I would say, the most successful marketing initiatives are also always things we do with our partners. So shipping software companies, packaging distributors, and corrugate. Manufacturers send us a ton of leads, because they, you know, they care about their customers being efficient. This has been more of a recent discovery and kind of interesting revelation, but we reduce the amount of material that shippers use that has not stopped materials vendors from sending their customers to us. You think there there would be kind of some friction there. But it’s actually you know, some of these companies are serious about sustainability. A lot of my A lot of the pessimism that I used to hold in my heart has kind of been vanquished over the past six months or so, which is I’m happy to report. 

JC: That is good. That’s awesome. All right. Well, let’s let’s talk about, you see the last six months. Let’s talk about the future a little bit here. Right, future biz tech. So we always ask this question. First off, I’m gonna It’s a two part question. The first part is this. Where do you see the industry you’re in? So we’ll call it let’s say, you know, supply chain or packing software? And I don’t know how many competitors you have. But let’s just say your your, your general industry, where do you see going in the next five to 10 years, whether it be through technology, or legislation, like we talked about, or culture or anything like that? What’s the big picture that you see happening?

James: Yeah, definitely more. I mean, we’ve talked about it a lot, but definitely more emphasis on ESG. And I think, you know, you you mentioned, you know, trade offs. And I think that’s probably what the bulk of green solutions we’ll have attached to them. But, you know, packing, it’s one of those things where there’s not many trade offs, because it’s part of the maybe least sexy are of the three R’s, the reduce, and I think the more technology comes out that doesn’t have trade offs, that is just we just found a way to use less of this thing. That’s, that’s really what’s exciting to me reusable things, I guess that’s, that’s another art. But using less material using less space, we talk a lot about bandwidth and taking up less space in the supply chain network. I think that’s going to be a major focus.

JC: All right, and where do you see your company? I mean, you got to seed round a year ago, the obviously been cleared and using the money well, which is good. Where do you see your your company in the next six months to a year like you got a cool roadmap stuff that you can give us a preview on like what’s coming here?

James: Some of the the kind of alliances that we’re working on at the moment I’m really excited about because, you know, we used to be just with the API is what we started with were the real time packing instructions. And so our, you know, a lot of our partnerships were pure, you know, operational software. Now that we’ve got this, you know, simulation capability, we’re suddenly got like a tow in the packaging space. So I’m really excited about making our platform kind of a little bit more involved in the way that packaging is procured in terms of like, what’s imminent, actually, this morning, cube scan, which is a, you know, one of the most successful companies that makes dimensioning equipment that actually can capture dimensions and understand what objects look like. They just sent out a press release about our partnership with them. So you heard it, you heard it here first. Yeah, that was the big thing that happened.

JC: That’s exciting. That’s awesome. Okay. I was like to ask a personal question. So I’m gonna ask you what you told me in the pre show that you’re, you’re a new father. Correct? Okay, you’re, you know, I’m a father as well. And it’s been a while since I’ve been a new father. But when I think about my daughter and my business, right, as far as a long term, like, what am I do? Is this something I want to hand down to her? Is it something that I want to sell and then move on to something new? So I guess my question for you as a new dad, have you thought long term? Is this a company that you or an industry that you want to stay in? And maybe have something to pass down? Or is it something that you want to eventually exit? And then take those resources? And is there an like, is there a next thing like what’s Is there a bigger picture that we don’t know about? I’m just curious.

James: Well, it’s only this is our second kid, and she’s only six days old. So Wow. Yeah, so you know, I had her on my chest sleeping during my last call today. But kind of when I’m looking at her, I’m not really envisioning, you know, pushing her towards supply chain in particular. But I do, you know, I do feel incredibly fortunate to be working on a problem, that it’s not going to solve climate change. But it might have a measurable impact on something related to a missions of supply chain, which is actually, you know, pretty impactful. So, I do think that, you know, the joy that I get from that I’m hoping that she find something that she loves, that is also satisfying in that way. And that helps me kind of with the fear of what, you know, climate will be like when she is at the point where she can start making those decisions.

JC: I think that’s a good word to fear. Because I think for any non parents that are taught to, you know, they was like, you know, what’s it like, I’m like, it’s fear all the time, but you still do it. Like, you’re not you’re not crumbled in a bowl in the corner, you know, in a cold shower, like anxiety and depression, but it really is, it’s fear and hope at the same time, which is interesting. It’s like this complete dichotomy of like, write down In the middle, like this extreme hope and happiness, on the other side is extreme fear. And like paranoia, like, you know, because you just, you can’t afford for anything to go wrong, you know. And so I think it’s an interesting place to come from. But I think what you’re doing is really great. As far as when it comes to legacy, I think that’s really cool. And not just legacy of reputation or name, but specifically, and like you said, you’re not going to solve the whole problem. But the whole problem is so complex that it takes a million small solutions to do and go in the right direction, you know, and I would imagine that feels really good being a part of that. And it’s an I enjoy interviewing you for it. Given the industry you’re in, there’s been a lot of material that has been written and created. If there was one movie or book or podcast, something educational, that ties into whether it be climate change, or, you know, is there anything that inspired you more that you could pass on to the audience, for any kind of intellectual purposes?

James: Oh, man, now that this is the spot.

JC: If you don’t have if you don’t have if you don’t have a book, or so if there’s a person too, I’m just curious, like, you know, where would someone find a little more inspiration other than just Googling, you know, stuff? Well,

James: I think, you know, I used to be fairly pessimistic, in general, you know, just kind of cynical, politically, you know, about the world, all these things. And over the course of, you know, starting this business and growing it, and talking to companies, even big companies that I, you know, and when I was a teenager, and in my 20s, I was like, you know, corporate, whatever, you know, I’ve just been so inspired by the earnestness that some of these folks have for being less wasteful, that there’s not a, you know, there’s rarely a huge marketing campaign associated with these things like they actually care. And I hope that doesn’t insult.. 

JC: Like it’s not all it’s you’re not seeing like, everyone’s they’re not adopting it for a PR stunt is what you’re saying? Yeah, like, although there might be some PR, you’re not seeing what you would expect, that they’re just doing it for the good look.

James: Right? Yeah. And I think that, so I guess my advice would be to just keep talking to, to people, if you’re, if you’re feeling like there might not be a market for your sustainability solution, you might be surprised if you’re able to keep talking to people. And the other thing, and the, the name escapes me, but I did read a book a while back about optimism, hope, maybe we can put it in the show notes, if I can’t remember later. But optimism is far more useful, particularly for entrepreneurs than is pessimism. And so one of our kind of company values is micro pessimism, macro optimism. And I think we stole that from stripe or some other corporate, some other startup page, but we talk about it a lot. Because, you know, when we’re when we’re solving a problem, we’re like how, you know, this won’t work. Because of this, this won’t. But the grander kind of vision of what we’re trying to do, it has to be optimistic, you have to have a belief that what you’re doing can be achieved. That would be my parting thought, with no specific book attached to it.

JC: I like that, you know, I’m going to put you in contact with. So she’s a client of mine, actually. And I liked her a lot. Her name is Lisa Foster, she is the author of a book called the bag lady. And you never heard like the term like with a crazy bag lady or whatever, you know. And so she turned that into a book. And what it was, is she was one of the first ones to actually convince corporations to get away from plastic bags. Like she was one of the starting people like, and a lot of these companies started doing it. And then it became this big thing. And obviously, you know, I mean, whether again, whether whether some people listening, agree with it or not, it doesn’t matter. She had a big impact. I’m gonna put you in touch with her, I think because she does. She does coaching and consulting for big companies when it comes to a more green initiative. And I feel like if she knows about your software, that could be something maybe she even talks about, with when she comes across the right client.

James: That’d be amazing.

JC: Yeah, I’ll put you guys in touch. She’s really cool. You’ll like her a lot. How can people who are listening if they want to reach out and either use your software or any other kind of, you know, bigger deals, how can they get a hold of you in particular? And then also, how do they get a hold of the company in general?

James: Me in particular, I’m pretty active on LinkedIn. So just look for me on there. James Malley talk mostly about putting things in boxes. So as long as you’re willing to have that in your feed, we should connect and Paccurate.io is our website. If you’re technical, you can sign up and start using it really quickly. We haven’t talked to maybe a quarter of our customers because they just came on board and started using it and there’s Some cool ROI calculators and stuff there as well.

JC: You know one question I didn’t get to ask, I want to make sure I squeeze in before we go. Who is this software for? And who is it not for as in, let’s say size of company or where they’re at, or, you know, if they’re starting up versus they’ve got 10,000 packages a month? Is there any range where it’s probably not a good fit, and you specialize in a certain size or type of company?

James: Yeah, I would say our sweet spot is, you know, between 100,000 and a million shipments per month. So..

JC: enterprise level, big stuff?

James: That’s pretty large, but we priced it in such a way that, you know, if you’re only doing five to 10,000 a month, you will get, you know, even a higher percentage ROI, than some of those larger customers. You can absolutely use it I mean, the API, all the documentation is there, it’s pretty much good to go. If you’re small, like if you’re an Etsy store, probably not a good fit, if you’re packing things yourself. And just, if that’s the case, just you know, be mindful about the materials you’re using and, and try to pack each shipment with care.

JC: Awesome. Well, listen, I appreciate it. And for everyone listening out there. Again, if you like what you heard today, be sure to subscribe to this podcast give it that five star rating with a little bit of kind words behind it. So other techies like us can find it and enjoy learning about all these other amazing and helpful. b2b software’s on the market today, just like Paccurate. James, thank you so much for being on the show. And like I said, after we get off your all I’ll give you a shout and intro to Lisa.

James: Awesome. Thanks, JC. Thanks a lot.

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