Startup Grind recently announced their annual #SGWomen Month, which takes places every June. This month-long celebration recognizes the accomplishments of women within the startup world. From founders to executives to engineers and more, this month highlights the excellence of women in startups.
At Forager, we are fortunate enough to have some truly phenomenal women on our team. We’ve decided to take this time to ask them who inspires them the most and what keeps them going at our own startup.
Don’t forget to check up Startup Grind’s calendar of events to see upcoming fireside chats and webinars hosted by #SGWomen across the globe.
Jessie Essman – Chief Operating Officer, Co-Founder
How did you get your start in logistics?
I started in logistics right out of college. It was clear right away that I was born to do it! It’s fast paced, requires extreme organization and problem solving skills, and is a fun yet demanding job. And it’s all accomplished through careful teamwork. I fell in love with it right away and held several operational roles where I got a bird’s eye view of the entire ecosystem.
What inspired you to co-found Forager?
Forager is solving a real problem for its customers. Matt’s a very visionary person and when he called me to tell me about this idea I was instantly intrigued. I began writing notes and ticking through everything that would need to be done in my mind. Matt and I are very different people. A battery with strong polarity is supercharged, and that is how I like to think of our co-founder relationship.
What do you love most about leading Forager’s operations? Proudest accomplishment?
Our customer operations team is the heartbeat of our customer’s networks. We’re a lively bunch of high-energy, high-productivity people. I am so proud of my team but perhaps the thing that stands out to most is that in almost two years of business, we’ve never parted ways with a customer due to our service. It’s because we have the right people, a great team dynamic and a high sense of urgency that we have been able to accomplish this.
What advice would you give for people interested in working for a start-up?
Be prepared to work in an ambiguous environment that requires tremendous self-motivation, but if you are willing to accept the challenge, be equally prepared for a learning opportunity of a lifetime.
Jaclynn Kutzura – Carrier Relations Manager
What Initially drew you to logistics and, eventually, Forager?
It’s a funny story. My first job out of college (2 days after graduating, to be exact), was at a different logistics company. My best friend in college had an internship the summer before and I thought it might be something I liked. I stayed there briefly before seeking out a new opportunity in the tech sales space, which I was quickly not fond of. Two years later, I came full circle back to logistics and fell in love with it. No other industry is quite as exciting (but yes, also stressful). The fast paced atmosphere, the culture, the changes, and how every day is a new challenge is what excites me. After being a part of a large brokerage, getting extensive training and succeeding there, I wanted to seek out a new opportunity where I would be able to be more innovative and challenge myself – that is what brought me to Forager. I had known Matt from Coyote and I followed Forager’s web presence. The way he was trying to transition and evolve the cross border marketplace was intriguing to me: Forager was not going to be just another brokerage in the years to come, but had that tech piece as well, and I knew I wanted to be part of something that I could see grow and change the industry.
Are you seeing a change in the presence of women in this industry?
I am. When I started in the industry almost 6 years ago now, I was one of maybe 10 total females on the carrier sales floor, in a company of ~2,000 employees. The industry does not catch the attention of a large group of women as it does not look like the exciting, “sexy” career path to them. However, over the last maybe 2 years, I have noticed a larger percentage of women in the logistics space, as well as in leadership positions at those companies. I feel like many became more successful in their initial role and move up, which is a welcomed change to a largely male-dominated industry. As more women step up, more follow in that path, helping to push for that shift as well.
What inspires you the most?
There are two things that inspire me daily. Passionate people is the first. When I listen to someone enthusiastically talk about their company, their personal growth, their ideas, or anything really, you can just see the passion in their eyes and hear it in their voice as they converse. That alone amazes me and continues to make me strive to do better daily. Second, there is nothing better and more inspiring than watching others grow and succeed throughout their career. Watching reps I have managed strive to succeed each day to come out on top continues to keep me going. There are some that started out discouraged, knowing very little about the industry, and ended up being performers, mentors, or managers. It’s such a great transformation to see!
What do you think has been your biggest accomplishment at Forager thus far?
Being at Forager for the last few months has been nothing short of amazing. My biggest accomplishment thus far is being able to bring my experience from other companies in the industry and help transform the carrier department here. I have been able to use my own ideas, tweak little things that I thought did not work in the past in prior roles, and fit them into our growth here. To be able to see a large improvement in such a short period of time has been exciting.
Aurea Delfin – Customer Operations Coordinator
What made you decide to join Forager?
I was actually introduced to Forager by my former manager who insisted it would be a perfect fit for me. Forager’s dedication to cross-border freight sparked my interest, specifically their relationship with the country of Mexico. As a Latina, I have always wanted work at a place where I could utilize my Spanish-speaking skills and cultural knowledge. Forager seemed like a place where I could do that while being a part of something really groundbreaking and unique in tech.
Is this your first time with a startup? Is it different from your previous work experiences?
Yes, it has definitely been different from previous experiences. I have never worked in place where everyone really stands behind the product and works towards creating something great together. Every department works to support each other and it really feels like we are building something that is going to change the future of freight. It’s exciting! It inspires me to work hard to do my part. The work is challenging but at the end of the day we still find ourselves laughing and genuinely enjoying seeing each other (virtually of course). It’s something to be proud of.
The support I have found at Forager has been unique to the company. It is amazing how welcomed I have felt my first couple weeks, even with all of us working remotely. Recently, Forager has offered a mental health day to help employees decompress. These can be hard, stressful times for all of us, so having a system like that in place really makes a difference. I have also seen them address current world events and heard them voice their support for minority communities. This is something I’ve never experienced prior to working here. Forager has also been very welcoming and engaging, even with all of us working from different locations or even time zones. From their virtual “welcome” pizza parties to celebrating big wins for the company during our virtual meetings, Forager has really built a strong sense of community.
Stay tuned for part 2 next week, Friday June 26th!