ShipEngineer Spotlight: Komal Agarwal

What is your role at ShipEngine?

As the Product Leader for ShipEngine, my role covers a wide range of product responsibilities — from go-to-market strategy, planning out our roadmap, exploring market opportunities, and putting together requirements. In order to drive the highest priority initiatives forward, a major part of the job is coordinating with executives and prioritizing work for the development team.

Throughout this process, all decisions I make are driven by customer focus. I try to ensure that we’re constantly thinking about our customers’ needs and pain points, so that we’re building the right tools for their job.

What does your typical work day look like? 

There’s a running joke in the product community that there’s never a “typical” day in the life of a product manager, and it’s so true! No two days are exactly the same, and PMs are constantly pulled in all directions. 

On any given day, I might be meeting with a customer to learn about their pain points, chatting with our CEO about new opportunities, brainstorming with an engineer on a solution, or researching the industry. I love that this role is so fast-paced and that I get to work with people across the company to drive ShipEngine’s product forward. The few constants I always make sure to keep in my schedule are our morning engineering team standups, our bi-weekly cross-department meetings, and our engineering demo days.

What tech do you get to work with?

Personally, I don’t have too much software that I need to work with day-to-day. I can do most of my work in Atlassian Confluence, JIRA, Gmail, and Google Drive. Periodically, I use mockup generation tools like Balsamiq and make calls to our API with Postman. Most of my communication with the team is through Slack or face-to-face interaction. I also use Looker for most data analytics work, along with Kibana.

Komal Agarwal, ShipEngine Product Lead traveling in San Francisco

How do you spend your free time?

I love exploring our Austin hiking trails and enjoying the Hill Country landscape. My boyfriend and I are obsessed with cooking spicy food and trying all the new places that open up around town (I definitely recommend hitting up DipDipDip Tatsuya).

I also enjoy creating art. Right now, I’m struggling with getting the hang of acrylic painting. Nintendo Switch is another favorite pastime (currently loving Pokemon Shield and super pumped about the release of Animal Crossing). 

What’s one feature of ShipEngine you want more users to discover?

I wish more people knew about our incredible team! I feel so lucky to get to work alongside such smart, energetic, and fun people day in and day out. 

How did you get into this type of work?

I have always been drawn to entrepreneurship in all forms. Growing up, I ran all sorts of — from selling artwork, running lemonade stands, and teaching people to swim. When I was at Rice University, I managed a startup accelerator and mentored 8 different startups in vastly diverse industries. I think that’s when I fell in love with the process of building companies.

After I graduated, I moved to Austin and continued to mentor startup founders in the tech industry. It was during this time that I learned about product management and immediately knew that it was what I wanted to pursue.

Becoming a product manager took a lot of hustle and a lot of learning. I completed a web development bootcamp and learned as much as I could about full-stack development. I worked for startups on the side to get experience, I did a ton of online courses, I read a bunch of books about Agile, product management processes, business strategy, and human psychology. 

Most importantly, I networked. I reached out to successful people on LinkedIn to chat with them about how they got to where they are in their careers and get their advice. I attended multiple meetups in town every week. I volunteered for Product organizations. It was through this networking that I met my future boss, who actually reached out to me when there was an opening for an APM role at ShipStation.

The rest is history :)

What did you want to be when you “grow-up”?

My dream has always been to start my own company. Right now, my goal is to learn as much as I can on how to build a business so that I can do that effectively when the time is right.

How long have you been working on ShipEngine?

I joined the company back in 2017, when ShipEngine was still a product team within our sister company, ShipStation. It’s been a wild ride since then, as our team has continued to grow rapidly. Today, ShipEngine has grown out of the ShipStation product suite and is now a separate subsidiary of Stamps.com. You can say that our journey has been very similar to an early-stage startup, but with the benefit of having the backing of a publicly traded company.

Komal Agarwal Product Lead at ShipEngine

Do you have any hidden talents?

This is going to sound dumb, but I am scary good at estimating volume.

Give me a pile of something (beans, chocolate chips, rice, water) and I can figure out which container it can fit in, exactly. When I buy food in the bulk section at the grocery store, I can measure out the food by the exact amount just by eye-balling. When I take it home and transfer it to an actual measuring cup, I never have too much or too little. It’s eerie.

What is one of your proudest achievements? 

I have been creating art since I could hold a crayon and have always dreamed of becoming an artist. One of my proudest accomplishments was in 2011, when I won Grand Champion at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo Art Competition.

Komal Agarwal in 2011 after winning first place a the Houston Rodeo art auction
Source: Katy Magazine

My drawing won 1st place out of over 30,000 entries and sold for a world-record price at auction for $205,000. Looking back, this is one of my favorite memories, because it’s a constant reminder that I can achieve anything I set my mind to.

What are you most excited about when it comes to the future of ShipEngine? 

I want the world to know that we really are just getting started. I’m excited for you to try out all the new features we have coming up this year. We have big plans to make our product much more flexible and scalable for all of our customers.

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