The Founder’s Story: Joe DiSorbo
Updated: Apr 25
It’s Joe here - the founder and CEO of Ship.com.
Today, I wanted to share my story with you. The story of how Ship.com came to be…
Why? Well, I don't want to be that “CEO guy”. You know, the one disconnected from his people. The one you only ever see in headshots on the company website.
I’m all about connection. Family is and always has been central to my life. That’s what you guys (small business owners) are to me - family. After reading this story, you’ll understand EXACTLY why.
Because really, this is a story about family. One of, if not, the most important things in life. And it all starts with my family…
The Small Business Queen: My Mom, Jeanie DiSorbo
My love for small business owners all started with my mom, Jeanie DiSorbo, the queen of small business.
My mom started out owning her own hair salon. Then she diversified.
And when I say diversified, I MEAN diversified...
Her ventures over the years included owning a wig shop, an exercise company, and teaching hairdressing. As different as these all were, she was really good at every one.
Then in 1989, my Mom quit hairdressing and started a small shipping store called Qwick, Pack & Ship. That’s right, it runs in the family!
Mom’s shipping store was her community's very own UPS store. It served her community and the small business owners in it. And guess what? She was pretty great at running it as well. However, she did make one mistake. Employing me…
The summer my mom fired me.
College was out. Summer was in. I needed a job. Enter, Mom. She was gracious enough to give me some work at the shipping store. And I was grateful. But I was also ambitious. A little too ambitious for her liking…
When I was at work (or home), I was constantly pushing my big ideas on her. Telling her how she needed to grow the business. But I did it one too many times…
And my mom FIRED me...
I mean who gets fired by one of their parents? At the time I thought…
“She doesn’t get it. If she just listened to me her business would grow? Where’s her ambition? Her drive?”
Later, I realized that it was me that didn’t really get it…
The time mom taught me what was TRULY important.
My mom knew growing her business meant working more hours. And that meant less time with her family and doing the things that give her life. So she kept the business small because she understood true riches.
My mom earned and provided for her family, but chose being present over ambition. She fought for work-life balance.
I think seeing my father’s lack of work-life balance also impacted her. Don't get me wrong, he was a hard worker and a great dad. He ran Cutco Cutlery’s shipping department for 42 years (yes - shipping again!). That’s to be admired!
But he would leave for work at 4:45am and finish at 5pm (or later). And he’d do that 5 or 6 days a week. Work took most of my dad’s time and energy. Work-life balance didn’t exist for him.
My mom didn’t want to be like that. Now, I understand why...
My experience in Korea that left its mark.
Ironically, my first job after college was for Cutco.
I became the Manager of Finance and Administration over in Seoul, Korea. Yes, I’m one of those nerdy number guys.
While I was there, I was actually heavily involved with direct sellers. Most of them were women who were all essentially small business owners. So basically, I was working with my mom again x1000. Except this time, they couldn’t fire me!
"I couldn't help but admire their boldness"
I loved it. I saw how these women were earning money for college or their family. How they made a career and did extremely well. And all the while, it gave them more control over their time. A better balance to their life. Exactly like my mom.
I couldn’t help but admire their boldness. Their confidence to carve out a life that works for them. One that includes passion for work, but also creates space for family and play. It left a mark on me…
The story of Silicon Valley success.
It was 1998, the dot com boom era. I wanted to be in the epicenter of all the excitement. So I quit Cutco and moved to Silicon Valley. I started a few companies. Some stuck, some didn’t. But one in particular was really successful…
Even though I’d moved to Korea and back, there was one thing I couldn’t get away from. A desire to help small businesses. That’s why I started Webgistix.
"These were the people that had my heart. But, we couldn't do enough..."
Webgistix provided software and fulfillment services to small eCommerce businesses. And we built a two-day delivery network so they could compete with Amazon. Yes, even back then, people were still trying to keep up with Amazon!
We were also constantly trying to help start-ups and micro-businesses. I mean - of course we were! I was a start-up entrepreneur once. I’d spent my whole life surrounded by small business owners.
They were the people that had my heart. But, as it turned out, we couldn’t do enough.
The decision that broke my heart.
We were receiving over 5,000 inquiries a year for our software. Which sounds great, however, only 500 of these fit our model. And next, we had to do something I hated.
Webgistix had to stop taking on start-ups and small businesses as customers.
"I wasn't about to let that happen again. I HAD to find a solution..."
Ultimately, the company ended up being really successful and was acquired by Rakuten in 2013. But this experience left me torn. 4,500 small businesses fell through the cracks. We couldn’t help them, and that stayed with me.
I wasn’t about to stand by and let that happen again. I had to find a solution to help them. And that’s what led me to Ship.com.
The solution to it all… Ship.com!
So, that’s the story. Now you understand why I considered small business owners my family.
Whenever I see someone like yourself, I see Mom, the trailblazer and pioneer, Jeanie DiSorbo. And all the people I’ve worked with over the years that were just like her.
The ones that had a passion to craft a life that worked for them. The bold creatives. The ones that were entrepreneurs yet understood the value of family and a balanced life.
Ship.com is entirely for YOU...
It’s designed to give you back precious time to spend with your loved ones. To allow you to be flexible and have more control over your time. To enable you to care of your family. And to make shipping more affordable for the small business owner and startup entrepreneur in the age of soaring costs!
My mom taught me that all of the above is WAY more important than profit and growth. Even though it took me a while to catch on. It’ll stay with me. And I’ll stick by it.