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Advice Time

Advice Time

Limor "Ladyada" Fried

Image credit: Adafruit Industries

That moment is tough for entrepreneurs. That first time you have to acknowledge that you don’t know how to solve a problem based on your own experience. And, as a small business owner, you realize you definitely don’t have time to learn a new skill on the fly.

Limor Fried faced that moment with her electronics tutorial and learning company, Adafruit. The company grew quickly from Fried’s kitchen table into a 30,000-square-foot factory. While Fried loved to engineer and design electronics—and is good at it—she didn’t feel as comfortable with other essential functions, including finances, personnel and logistics.

“At Adafruit we're extremely focused on our mission, which is education and designing the best electronics,” Fried says. “When we needed help in areas we'd never be able to focus on 100 percent, that's when we knew it was time to look to an outside expert for help.”

It can be hard to trust even a small part of your company to someone else. But if you could save yourself time, money and have the function done better by an expert, then it is time to start looking for the right expert for advice. 

For Fried that expert was UPS®. The team quickly became an important partner in fulfilling orders and streamlining operations to get Adafruit’s electronics to its customers. They developed a variety of systems, all optimized for her specific needs. 

“Working with UPS we were able to ask what would and would not work, and now we're able to interface all the logistics UPS provides with all the software we developed to move things in and out of Adafruit efficiently,” she explains.

Blake Goodwin, director of sales and operations for Boston-based Artaic - Innovative Mosaic, also turned to UPS when his company started to grow. After completing the Boston accelerator program MassChallenge in 2011, Goodwin realized Artaic, which designs and fabricates custom mosaics, needed help.

SPLASH! Mosaic Design Collection

SPLASH! A series of free flowing patterns and rich textures inspired by the spontaneous movements of water.

“We knew we were about to enter a stage where we were going to expand dramatically and realized we’d need to enlist the services of an experienced provider like UPS who could help us get to that next level,” Goodwin says.

Artaic took advantage of services including negotiating discounted rates and whiteboarding sessions to help the company evaluate and prioritize its needs. Because Artaic has a complicated international supply chain, thanks to the procurement of its raw inventory of glass, stone and porcelain tiles, Goodwin says UPS’s global experience was extremely helpful in mapping out operations in the most efficient way. 

“We have 10 to 15 products that we’re purchasing the raw inventory from several countries across the world, and several suppliers within those countries,” Goodwin says, noting that when UPS rerouted the shipment of those tiles, Artaic saw fulfillment time drop by roughly 30 percent.  

At the same time, Artaic turned to UPS for the front end of business, in which architects and designers need to see and touch its product and present it to their clients. Goodwin says UPS’s small parcel service and tools such as its WorldShip® software help his company handle increasing volume and ship more efficiently. 

“Our clients often need samples right away, so it's really important that we have people we can rely on in that regard to help increase our top line,” he says. UPS's dedicated team and wide range of shipping options—including UPS ground, air and freight services—make that happen.

Goodwin and Fried agree that knowing how to identify their business strengths—and trusting partners to help with the rest—is a key to their growth and success.

“No matter how good we are at making electronics, if we can't move 20,000-plus orders across the globe each month, we're not going to succeed,” Fried says. “Having the time and freedom to focus on what matters most and what we’re best at is why our partnership with UPS is so valuable.”