INNOVATORS VS COVID 19
MasonHub’s Donny Salazar Tells Us About a Modern Fulfillment Platform Built By Retailers For Retailers
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Donny Salazar: I’m thankful that my family and my partner have been safe, so considering everything that’s happening, I’m happy that we have a healthy family.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded MasonHub.
Donny Salazar: I began working at a logistics company 20 years ago after graduating from college, and I quickly discovered it was a passion. After earning my MBA, I joined a fast-growing retail startup called Gilt Groupe, which exposed me to fulfillment as a service. It was clear that there was a gap in the market for innovation in technology and the processes for any digitally-focused brand. I then went to work for several other retailers and ran into the same problems. With front-end platforms like Magento and Shopify making it easier to get into e-commerce, nothing was being done on the back-end. That’s where we decided to innovate.
How does MasonHub innovate?
Donny Salazar: We come at it from a retailer’s perspective, building products that we always wished we had when we were retailers. We address all the pain points that existing incumbents had from a technology perspective. Some of our unique differentiators include our Fulfillment Automation Marketing Engine (FAME), which allows us to customize the fulfillment experience for any cohorts or customer data a brand has. We also built dynamic kitting and allocation. Our roadmap continues to be driven by what we are learning from our clients as they continue to scale their businesses across different channels.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Donny Salazar: E-commerce was already the fastest-growing channel in retail pre-pandemic. The pandemic has just accelerated that growth over the past several months. We were fortunate enough to have benefitted from many people moving purchases online. While we support retailers across multiple channels, e-commerce is something we excel in, so we have been able to grow faster because most retail is now happening online. We also very clearly abide by all the guidelines to make sure everyone is safe and healthy.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Donny Salazar: What was really difficult was that we were in an uncertain period when the pandemic happened where it was difficult to understand how it would impact our business. So we restricted our headcount accordingly, which was difficult for a fast-growing business. The lesson learned was that we have to continue to remain flexible and innovative and sometimes do things with fewer people. It forced us to truly prioritize and allocate resources to the things where we have a full buy-in, which is always important but more so when your resources are constrained.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and MasonHub in the future?
Donny Salazar: What I do is meditation. I recently discovered an app called Headspace that I listen to first thing in the morning. It allows me to focus on the things I have to get done that day and not be so concerned about things that haven’t happened in the future.
I’m very excited about the early success we’ve had after just two years. We are really hitting on a product-market fit. Where I see us going is being able to support any retailer across any channel they wish to expand into with ease.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Donny Salazar: There’s the larger incumbents that existed and a crop of new entrants coming into the market. Because our team comes from retail, we have a unique perspective of what is required to successfully scale an omnichannel business. Because we were all retailers, we can anticipate their needs. We also spend a lot of time with CEOs and founders to understand what their needs are and to listen to what they think.
Your final thoughts?
Donny Salazar: We are expanding onto the East Coast to provide great service across the country for all our partners. We’re also launching some great products to support inventory management across multiple channels.
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