“I wrote our business plan in the New Venture Creation class and recruited my co-founders from the class. I got more out of my classes by thinking about how I could immediately apply the concepts to our business.”– Matt Chasen, MBA ’04
Wasted Space Sparks Idea
While they were still in their first year of the Texas MBA program, Matt Chasen, Jay Manickam and Mickey Millsap launched uShip, now the largest online shipping marketplace. uShip matches shippers who have large furniture, pets, livestock, vehicles or boats with drivers who bid to transport them. The company generates revenue through a commission on services and offers savings of 30-40 percent over a commercial carrier.
Chasen is now president and CEO of uShip. The idea for the company came as he was trying to find an inexpensive and safe way for his mother to ship a family heirloom dresser across the country. He found that shipping large or heavy items was very expensive and there were limited options. His business idea to match shippers with drivers via the Internet was further reinforced after he saw the empty, wasted space in the truck he rented when he moved to start the MBA program at the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin.
From the first day at McCombs, Chasen focused on taking the concepts he learned in class and turning them into practical applications for his new business. The venture was always top of mind in every connection he made, both on and off campus. After taking the basic core MBA classes in marketing, finance and operations his first year, Chasen designed his second-year course schedule to develop entrepreneurial skills by taking New Venture Creation, Small Business Finance, Opportunity Identification, Entrepreneurial Process and Private Equity Finance.
Chasen took advantage of the Venture Fellows program and practicum, where he had the opportunity to analyze a number of real deals for venture capitalists. He learned how the venture industry worked and was active in the Entrepreneurship Society. By the time uShip was ready to seek venture funding, Chasen knew the industry and how to evaluate and negotiate financing.
uShip officially launched in March 2004. The founders continued to refine their business plan and gain exposure. They were a semi-finalist in the 2004 Texas Moot Corp Competition and won first place in the 2004 Shirley Murphy Entrepreneur Contest at the University of North Texas. They also participated in the 2004 Venture Capital Investment Competition at McCombs.
While at McCombs, Chasen also tapped entrepreneurial business organizations and spent his summer internship with ventures. He raised angel financing locally and networked with the venture capitalists that came to campus as guest speakers. This led to an introduction to Bob Kagel, a member of eBay’s board and a partner at Benchmark Capital. In June 2005 uShip raised their first round of equity funding from Benchmark Capital. DAG Ventures led their second round of financing in September 2006.
Since 2004, uShip has brokered more than $125 million transactions in over 100 countries. The company employs 50 and in 2009 revenues were over $5 million, doubling over 2008 despite the recession. uShip has positive cash flow and a growing customer base with international expansion plans underway. uShip continues its close relationship with The University of Texas at Austin, hiring many graduates and summer interns.