Jul 30, 2014
Originally from Huntington Beach, Ca Neel Murthy studied in the technical field at Stanford University where he started his first entrepreneurial venture videocrank with a few other Stanford students as a front-end and back-end developer. From there he leveraged his experience to become a lead developer of mylinkpower a startup from one of Stanford’s top entrepreneurial programs on campus called StartX and in his latest venture he is Co-founder & CEO of Swapbox a San Francisco-based startup that’s received $800,000 in seed funding from the Y Combinator accelerator program. Swapbox has now become a trending Bay Area startup that’s led by a team of engineers from Stanford, Google, Microsoft, and Zynga. I had the opportunity to have a phone chat with Neel Murthy and talk to him about his entrepreneurial experience and Swapbox easy convenient way to send/receive packages.
QGITS: What exactly is Swapbox?
Neel: Swapbox is a fully automated post office that is located inside places you already go – grocery stores, convenience stores, laundromats, etc…it’s like an atm for packages. It allows you to send and receive packages in a fraction of the time it took before and at your own convenience. To receive a package simply sign up at swapbox.com and choose your closest swapbox (you can change it later) and we’ll give you a new address to ship packages too and notify you via text/email when it arrives. To send packages, just take your item to your closest Swapbox, answer a few onscreen questions and drop off your item (packaged or not – we’ll professionally pack it up for you if it’s not packages) – That’s it!
Photo credit by: Swapbox
QGITS: What inspired you to become an entrepreneur and start working on your own ventures?
Neel: I think I was just fortunate enough to go to a place like Stanford where I was exposed to a lot of good people that inspired me to do something that has meaning and purpose. Before going to Stanford, I was on this path to become a doctor and that’s what I thought I would do my entire life. Since going to Stanford I connected with some cool people, worked on a couple of projects there and tried a couple of my own ventures also while in school. Eventually, I came across the genesis of Swapbox and worked on it for quite some time in school but then it just took a hold; it became something that I thought about all the time. I ended up dropping out of school in the MSCS/MBA program to pursue Swapbox full time. That was a hard decision and I am pretty thankful that I was able to do that.
QGITS: How did you and your team come up with the idea of swapbox?
Neel: Swapbox was not actually the first iteration it sort of evolved into it’s concept. The initial inspiration for both me and my co-founder Nitin Shantharam who I have known for 15 years, was that we would talk about how we thought transactions were broken. There are two things: 1) the global transaction, you buy from an ecommerce site and receive your package; 2) the postal system that was designed for a different age and purpose. Family dynamics are different today. I still have a stack of missed delivery notices that we keep as reminders and inspiration of why we started Swapbox.
QGITS: Where we can find Swapbox locations?
Neel: So right now we have 21 kiosks in San Francisco area, we just got started a little bit over a year ago and we are working pretty hard to expand. We are targeting LA then New York next. We still have a small team and we want to make sure we get this right, to stay customer focused and make sure we don’t expand to quickly. We have locations in 7-eleven stores and also have plans to be in big grocery store chains. The biggest thing is we are so technology focused and we have algorithms for figuring out where the packages went, being able to dynamically route and store packages. It’s all suppose to be very hassle free and the biggest thing we like to do is make sure the interface is really easy to handle for our customer’s user experience.
Check out video by Swapbox: