Huboo, the software-led fulfilment company based in Bristol, is a British technology success story and a tech unicorn in the making, predicted to hit a valuation of $1bn later this year.

We sat down with Ben Shipway, Huboo’s Chief Product & Tech Officer, to understand more about the company’s innovative, human-centric approach to technology, and hear why Huboo’s radical and empowering culture makes it a compelling choice for local tech talent.

Constant evolution

Since its launch in 2017, Huboo has won over eCommerce businesses and investors alike with its software-led approach to logistics. While most companies rely on existing tech systems to build out their services, Huboo has developed its technology from the ground up, creating flexible bespoke software that serves and empowers its human workers (rather than the other way around), and that is both scalable and adaptable to customer needs. 

The custom-built technology that underpins Huboo’s services allows the company to offer a high-quality service to online retailers of all sizes, business models and product offerings. And its innovation-first, free-thinking mindset is attracting some of the best tech minds in the South West.

Ben explains, “Our success comes from the fact that we don’t simply offer a collection of services for our customers – we have also built a constantly evolving set of bespoke technologies to underpin everything we do. 

“We don’t believe in standing still as a business, and the same is true for our approach to technology, which is in perfect lockstep with our growth and recruitment strategy.”

Hub-as-a-Service

Huboo has turned traditional fulfilment – the picking, packing and posting of products – on its head. It uses a hub model that replicates the functionality of a complete warehouse within as little as a few hundred square feet, giving online retailers a personalised service tailored directly to their business needs.

The company is now working on its next iteration of its proprietary cloud-based software that mirrors the hub approach. ‘Hub-as-a-Service’ is a micro-platform providing each warehouse hub with its own fully-integrated tech stack. This approach can not only be adapted for each client’s specific hub needs, but it is also infinitely scalable, allowing Huboo to grow its warehousing capacity alongside the customers it serves – creating a more sustainable route to international growth and expansion.

Ben comments, “Businesses tend to be built on one uniform software system, which can restrict innovation. We’re reimagining this model by instead developing smaller, highly flexible systems that ladder up to a bigger whole – which is a completely different way to think about technology architecture in a business such as this.”

Innovative ways of working

Central to the success of Huboo’s software-led approach to logistics is its internal culture. The company has worked hard to create an environment that is supportive of independent thinking and collaborative working. Huboo strongly believes that product managers, engineers, and delivery professionals should be autonomous and accountable, while working together collectively to drive the best product outcomes. 

Unlike traditional companies, Huboo teams across different disciplines work closely together and collectively own the results. By breaking down silos Huboo creates a multiplier effect, leading to faster paced product development and quicker rollout of services. 

Ben explains, “I want every single team member to have skin in the game and be truly invested in the products they are building. I actively advocate against the top-down approach – where I give directions to the team on what they need to build and how. Instead, my team is supported to set their own direction and come up with their own ideas. They are given full ownership of the projects they work on – from idea conception to roll-out.”

This collaborative approach sees employees working hand-in-hand with teams with complementary specialisms. For instance, dev ops and engineers will often be guided by quality assurance experts, product managers and the data science team, all the while retaining autonomy over how to approach each problem and how to align it with the company’s goals.

The ‘Amazon of the South West’

As Huboo continues its journey from startup to scaleup, the need for experienced product and tech professionals becomes ever more critical to ensuring the company stays at the vanguard of architecture design and product innovation. The company hired 341 employees over the past 12 months, increasing its headcount by 133%, and plans to maintain this recruitment pace over the coming months.

To support its scaleup ambitions, Huboo is looking for more than just technically capable individuals: “We seek open-minded, creative people who want a challenge and can bring fresh thinking. Whether people have worked in logistics previously is immaterial – it’s their discipline skillset and their mindset that really matters,” Ben comments.

“The reason for our continued growth is the same reason we’ve been able to attract brilliant tech professionals to join our mission – we are constantly designing and evolving innovative software that is transforming the eCommerce space,” Ben concludes.

Huboo is not a company to rest on its laurels. The South West’s most ambitious scaleup is already being talked about as an Amazon rival in the making, and continues to eye up further software innovation as it seeks to build out additional fulfilment and eCommerce capabilities – for the benefit of the entire online retail ecosystem. 

Thanks to Ben for taking the time to talk to us today! Check out Huboo’s jobs page for current roles and their TechSPARK company page for more info. 

Shona Wright

Shona covers all things editorial at TechSPARK. She publishes news articles, interviews and features about our fantastic tech and digital ecosystem, working with startups and scaleups to spread the word about the cool things they're up to. She also oversees TechSPARK's social media, sharing the latest updates on everything from investment news to green tech meetups and inspirational stories.