The Entrepreneur: Jacob Corlett, Shift

The founder of the UK's on-demand shifting service talks funding, global ambitions, and the potential technology has to revolutionise logistics

Founder: Jacob Corlett
Company: Shift
Description in one line: The UK’s on-demand shifting service for people on the move
Turnover: £1.7m
12-month target: £9.6m

Business growth:

Describe your business model and what makes your business unique:

  • Shift helps anybody move anything, anywhere, anytime
  • Our business simplifies everything and is designed to be flexible for busy people on the move; one of 2,300 Shifters can be booked and arrive at your doorstep a short 20 minutes later
  • We offer customers the quickest and easiest on-demand bespoke moving service, whilst empowering the nation’s self-employed workforce

What is your greatest business achievement to date?

For me, achievement is not only measured by financial success, but it’s about seeing all the positive feedback from customers, Shifters and businesses who have used Shift to help them with their everyday lives.

It’s a great thing knowing the business model that we’ve worked so hard on has such a positive impact on those that have used it.

What numbers do you look at every day in your business?

Everything – I run a real time daily P&L, which is broken down each day based on bookings, and areas. It’s vital for the company to be completely on top of this.

To what extent does your business trade internationally and what are your plans?

We are currently operational in the UK, but have high growth ambitions for the year ahead – with global expansion already on the cards.

Shift is revolutionising the way people think about moving items and in the coming months, we are focusing on continued expansion and development of our platform, while also growing the brand and learning how to best serve our customers.

We’ve achieved incredible traction within our first year and are constantly growing, with over 2,000 registered Shifters, 16,000 customers, and an annual turnover of £1.7million.

Describe your growth funding path:

Having started the company and grown organically, we were backed at seed stage by Fuel Ventures, headed up by award-winning global digital entrepreneur and founder of, Mark Pearson.

We are just closing another round now which will act as a bridge between here and our Series A in the near future. By that time, we intend to have brought together our growth team and be operating internationally with everything in place to take us to a position where we can float the company.

 What technology has made the biggest difference to your business?

Technology has the potential to revolutionise logistics through a marketplace model, making the movement of anything – from a single item or the entire contents of a home, take minutes rather than days for a few pounds.

We combine our technology with intelligent algorithms in real-time to find the best suited Shifter for any job. Without this, we wouldn’t be able to offer our bespoke service, tailored for each individual customer’s needs, wants and preferences, which we pride ourselves on.

Where would you like your business to be in three years?

We are looking to launch globally within the next year, with a soft launch approach, similar to the one that we have seen success with in the UK, in nine locations around Europe and the US.

In three years we expect to be in every viable region in the world, with turnover in the multiple hundreds of millions.

Growth challenges

What is the hardest thing you have ever done in business?

The transition from personally driving every part of the business forward, to building the right team that can be responsible for scaling it to new heights was a big challenge. Getting the right people in business demands continual effort.

What was your biggest business mistake?

In a prior company, I found that trying to scale a business with an outdated model was like trying to swim upstream. Taking advantage of emerging market trends to make business easier for yourself being the key lesson learned there.

Piece of Red Tape that hampers growth most:

At this moment, we haven’t come into contact with anything that’s hindered our growth as of yet. There really isn't anything getting in the way of us building our vision right now.

With so many innovative technologies popping up all the time, we're utilising everything we can that breaks down walls that may previously have been in our way.

What is the most common serious mistake you see entrepreneurs make?

Not knowing when to change direction. You need to be able to react quickly to market feedback and make a new plan that you believe in and which uses previous experience gained.

How will your market look in three years?

With the constant progression of technology, seeing drones in the sky, and robots on the road may be as normal as seeing delivery vans every day.

Consumers are constantly looking for faster and more resourceful ways to move, send and receive things, whilst at the same time remaining cost-effective, environmentally friendly and practical.

We have very ambitious plans for the future, and have ours eyes set on really interesting and innovative ways we can change the future of travel and delivery for good.

What is the single most important piece of advice you would offer to a less experienced entrepreneur?

A lot of people give the advice to think big, which is good to an extent but not many people know what that means in implementation.

When you actually plan to achieve a goal which is 10x bigger than the true objective of the company, the difference in scale forces your mind to open to completing changing your approach.

The idea being that even if you fall short of the big target, the plan is much more likely to allow you to easily achieve the true goal.

Personal growth

Biggest luxury:

Time is everyone’s greatest luxury

Executive education or learn it on the job?

Learn as you go

What would make you a better leader?

A device that could show me all of my experiences over the next 20 years and highlighting my mistakes

What one thing do you wish you’d known when you started?

Who the best people I could surround myself with for success were

One business app and one personal app you can’t do without:

Slack and Citymapper

Business book:

The Lean Startup’ by Eric Ries