As CCO of the start-up Parcel Perform, Dana von der Heide and her co-founder Dr Arne Jeroschewski, enable online retailers to track parcel shipments correctly and in a customer-friendly manner.
he finds logistics “incredibly exciting", says Dana von der Heide. And the 32-year-old from Berlin, together with Dr. Arne Jeroschewski, wants to make the industry a great deal more customer-friendly, digital and faster: The two have founded Parcel Perform, a company that has developed a cloud-based delivery platform for e-commerce companies. This offers transparent tracking data in real time: E-commerce retailers such as Nespresso can use Parcel Perform to show their customers exactly where their shipment is and, more importantly, when it will arrive on the company's own interface. Financially strong investors also believe in this business model: Cambridge Capital and SoftBank Ventures invested a whopping 20 million US dollars in the company in the summer of 2021.
FIRST OFF: GET TO KNOW THE GROUP FROM THE INSIDE
Previously, von der Heide and Jeroschewski had built up the company very solidly over a five year period in Singapore. This is where Dana von der Heide ended up after her studies. She had studied journalism, communication studies, political science and psychology in Berlin and had taken several bachelor's degrees “purely out of interest". At the time, she was heading for a job at a PR agency. But one of her professors, a communications manager at DHL, recommended that she first get to know a large company from the inside. An international trainee programme at DHL brought her to Singapore. She then worked in the corporate strategy department of the company. “At that time, we initiated a change process in the direction of e-commerce. For this process, I gathered a lot of customer feedback and saw how much online retail success depends on orders actually arriving on time."
Traders usually work with several carriers – and they all have their own tracking sites. “Large online companies put a lot of emphasis on optimising their pages – but then they have to send their customers to the parcel and express service providers' websites for tracking, which are often confusing and don't always provide the right answers. This disrupts the shopping experience and is, therefore, a real problem from a marketing point of view.” At the same time, she became aware of how long change can take in a corporation: “There are so many good ideas. But change, I guess, usually has to come from outsiders.”
EXPANSION INTO THE USA
She spoke with Arne Jeroschewski about the potential of tracking. Together they founded Parcel Perform in Singapore in 2015, invested all their time and savings in the company – and it paid off: Today, the company operates profitably. Jeroschewski acts as CEO, von der Heide as CCO (Chief Customer Officer) and is thus primarily responsible for customer contact. Khang Nguyen, a CTO from Vietnam, joined the team early on; Parcel Perform now has one of three branches in the country. After establishing itself in Asia, the start-up looked to the European market, they set up an office in Berlin and are now expanding into the US. “This latest move is just technically straightforward for us, as Southeast Asia was the much more difficult market,” says Dana von der Heide. Different languages and time zones are a major challenge for business operating in the USA – and that there are around 300 parcel service providers there instead of half a dozen.
Dana von der Heide explains that she is “very much practice-driven". I am not a theorist, I just like to do things. I like to develop solutions and build teams. It's incredibly good fun and also gives me a lot of energy.” When her family reminds her once again that she shouldn't work too much, she thinks: “I think there is a big difference between: 'I'm working' and 'I'm really into this'.” She does not feel that her job, which of course can only be done with many hours per week and full commitment, is a burden. “But I am also someone who can never sit still. I could hardly stand two weeks' holiday on the beach. I always want to do something with my head, I'm just very busy.”
IT'S ALL ABOUT TRANSPORT FROM A TO B
She sees the transport and logistics sector as a “hidden champion” and says: “In the end, the world depends on goods being transported from A to B – in the B2B sector just as much as in B2C and C2C. And that from-A-to-B is a very manual, labour-intensive process that I have the utmost respect for.” Parcel Perform wants to support it with digital intelligence. “I increasingly feel that our impact grows the more successful the company is,” she explains. “What really motivates me is that you can actually drive change in this industry.”
Dana von der Heide Dana von der Heide graduated from the FU Berlin with a combined Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Communication and International Politics. After an International Management Trainee Programme at DHL, she spent three years as Senior Business Development Manager for DHL eCommerce Asia. She was also an eFounder fellow at Alibaba since 2018. In 2016, she founded Parcel Perform with Dr Arne Jeroschewski.
This builds on a secure foundation: In the first 18 months or so after its founding, the team virtually hunkered down to first build a stable, reliable product. Only then did they go out into the big, wide world with it. The founders attach great importance to developing the software in such a way that it meets the needs of their customers. And that work is done quickly: Both new customers and new logistics service providers are connected to the cloud within two weeks. “We are scaling strongly, in the Coronavirus pandemic we grew fivefold,” says Dana von der Heide. “But we always make sure that growth is stable, that our team is comfortable with it and that we grow in a healthy and sustainable way.”
It is also important to her and her co-founder that the teams are diverse: The staff members come from 17 different nations and speak around 20 languages; they have the most diverse backgrounds. “The best members of the sales team have never had anything to do with sales before,” says von der Heide. Women make up about half of the team: “We take our time to select suitable candidates. And where women are also in positions of responsibility, they attract more female employees as if by magic – they are role models."
The USD 20 million funding is a big milestone for Parcel Perform, says Dana von der Heide. “And at the same time, I feel like it's just getting started,” she explains. In the first few years, a start-up is usually always on the brink of failure. “But we are now established and profitable. After all, this shows that we can make money with what we offer.” She wants to remain loyal to the company and believes that Parcel Perform will accompany her personally for a long time – simply because there are still many exciting things to discover: "The company has an incredible amount of potential and we can still make a huge difference in the market.