“We were constantly worried about the packages and ended up wasting a lot of time waiting at home and driving to post offices,” said Jiang, a former Hewlett Packard senior product manager.
Like many first-time entrepreneurs, Jiang found himself brainstorming to solve this real-world problem.
As a student in the Berkeley Evening & Weekend MBA Program he began exploring the concept of a worry- and hassle-free way to receive, track, return, and manage online purchases.
That idea led to the founding of startup Enchantin Inc., the maker of the uCella smart mailbox, an expandable, wirelessly-connected wall-mounted container that secures packages when they are delivered or returned.
Jiang asked a childhood friend, Donny Zhang, to help with uCella’s prototyping. He assembled a small team at Haas to help him work on the project, including Kelly Han, EWMBA 14, Susy Schöneberg, MBA 17, Jinpei Li, EWMBA 16, and Chang Li EWMBA 16.
Both the cohort and the MBA curriculum helped guide Jiang, who also participated in UC Berkeley LAUNCH, a startup accelerator and competition designed to transform early stage startups into fundable companies.
“A lot of classes I took really opened my eyes,” he said, including Strategic Brand Management with Lynn Upshaw and Entrepreneurship with David Charron. “To be honest, I don’t really think I’d have started my own startup if I wasn’t in the Berkeley MBA program.”
Enchantin is already well-funded. The startup received $1 million in January from unnamed investors. The company has also received several hundred pre-orders through its Indiegogo campaign.
Here’s how the uCella system works.Customers use a mobile application to track package deliveries.
The system synchs with popular email services to pull customer tracking numbers from order receipts. When a delivery person arrives, she scans the barcode that contains a tracking number required to unlock the customer’s box. The package is stowed in the expandable box, which automatically locks. Then the system alerts the customer of the delivery.
The uCella box can also be used to coordinate package returns.
Enchantin now has a 12-person team and the company will roll out a seed program in several Bay Area neighborhoods this spring.
The company is in discussions with major couriers such as Fedex and UPS and e-retailers to form potential partnerships, Jiang says. Couriers and e-commerce companies from Canada, Korea, and Turkey have also told Jiang that they’re interested in testing and rolling out the product.
He believes that going global is a real possibility.
“My vision is that uCella will be outside every house in the U.S and will become an essential package platform in the worldwide e-commerce ecosystem,” he said.