How a Military Veteran turned her love of online shopping into a Promising Startup

I first want to thank everyone for all the support and encouragement I received from my little Facebook status update.

People had so many words of encouragement and support but with that a ton of questions, such as:

  • What was it like to serve in the Navy?
  • How did you decide to leave the Navy?
  • What’s Next?
  • And lastly, how do you think the Navy prepared you for your next endeavor?

As I began responding to these individual posts and messages, a friend suggested I just write a blog post incorporating all of these thoughtful questions. So this is my attempt to thank everyone but also thoughtfully respond to all of these insightful questions. So here I go:

1) What was it like to serve?

Well as an Intelligence Officer in the Navy…no day is the same. As a military officer you can start off pretty young, like right out of college at the age 22 or 23. After graduating from Spelman College; I joined the Navy and I can safely say…. I had NO IDEA what I was doing. I arrived at my first command whom were all eager to meet the new Ensign (lowest Naval officer rank) and test my leadership skills.  Everyone had more experience than I did and many were older… and all calling me ma’am and looking for my guidance.

I learned very quickly that the key to my success and the success of those I led was teamwork. The most senior to the most junior personnel had something to contribute and plenty of times their expertise was a mixture of formal education, life experience and intellectual curiosity. The PEOPLE or whom we call “Shipmates” were important from my first to my last day.

Great friend and mentor

2) How did you decide to leave the Navy?

I NEVER I mean NEVER thought I would be in the Navy for over 10 years let alone past five years. I joined thinking I would do my initial commitment of four years, get out and then go to grad school. Well one day, I woke up and nine years had passed, a few of them overseas and aboard ships.

Leaving the Navy for sure was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made but I knew my interests reached beyond the Navy. I did a ton of job searches, went to grad school and still didn’t know what I wanted to do. All I knew was that I had outgrown the Navy and needed a new adventure. Though I admire many women who have risen to high ranks in the Navy, I knew that was not my path.

Admiral Howard, highest ranking women in all of the Armed Forces. Though I admire her, this is not my path.

3) What’s Next?

So yep, I’ve been to grad school in one of the top programs in my field. But shortly after graduation, I realized I wanted nothing to with my previous career field. I wasn’t looking for a job, a career…I was really looking for a journey.

While I was figuring out what I wanted to do next, I transferred to the Pentagon. I was working long hours, never home and with little time to run errands especially during the week. In particular, I started online shopping a lot because it freed up the little bit of time I did have. I bought everything online from groceries and dog food to clothes and my household goods. But I had a hard time keeping track of my deliveries; many times I would have to go to the local UPS or FedEx store to pick up my items. And when I say local UPS or Fedex, I mean 30 minutes out of the way, which plenty of times closed before I could get there. I even had packages stolen straight from my doorstep.

So I decided to start doing some research to see what solutions were really out there. I couldn’t find anything that was right for my situation….sooooooo…..I decided to create my own. I put my head down for a little bit did some research, reached out to my network to people I thought would be interested in exploring this idea with me.

Well we made some head was, contacted potential customers and even were accepted in the Logistics Accelerator sponsored by FedEx. Spending three months in Memphis learning from FedEx and other logistic professionals was life changing not only for myself but for my business as well.

What we came up was a portable secure package delivery system. That’s why today I want to introduce you to Jeffrie, think about Jeffrie as your modern doorman. As a connected device, Jeffrie allows consumers to securely receive any type of delivery at their doorstep without being home. Jeffrie also comes with a companion app that helps manage deliveries as well as uses your smartphone to grant entry access.

Not only is it my pain we are trying to solve but last year alone over 50 million online shoppers experienced some type of delivery inconvenience with over 120 failed deliveries resulting in over $1.6 Billion in product replacement from retailers.

Feel free to check us out at www.hellojeffrie.com we will be launching our standalone app soon and are looking for beta testers so please reach out if you are interested!

4) And lastly, how do you think the Navy prepared you for your next endeavor?

The Navy challenged me in ways  where I continue to grow.  I learned the importance of collaboration but also having my own expertise. Early on in my idea, I reached out within and beyond my network. I knew that I had certain skills but to bring a product to market and build a company…I needed help.

I also learned to be uncomfortable but to learn quickly or as the military says “semper gumby” which roughly translates to always be flexible and adjust to your situation. No day is the same in a startup, as a founder my days are crazy juggling the multitudes of things that need to be done.

And lastly, its ok to take calculated risks. With a little bit of knowledge and help a risk can very quickly turn into an opportunity!

Again, I want to say thank you for all of the support and kind words I have received over the last 24 hours.

Feel free to sign up for updates on the progress of Jeffrie at www.hellojeffrie.com and reach out at Ashley@liloe.co

 

Carolyn Lowe