In 2013, Tony Xu was brainstorming ideas for a business school project when he identified a problem he wanted to solve: food delivery. For most restaurants, it was too costly and inefficient, leaving most of the market to pizza and Chinese. Tony and his partners believed they could use technology to connect customers to drivers, who would deliver meals in every imaginable cuisine. That idea grew into DoorDash, a company that's now delivered over 100 million orders from over 200,000 restaurants across the country. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we hear from the winner of our 2018 HIBT Summit Pitch Competition: Ashlin Cook. She combined her love for dogs with an entrepreneurial itch to create Winnie Lou: a Colorado business that sells healthy dog treats in independent pet stores and from a food truck.
United States


00:00:00support for this NPR podcast and the following message come from Microsoft technology is accelerating faster than ever and things that once felt far off are making a real impact in our lives today see how ARE is empowering business innovators at Microsoft dot com slash a high it's guy
00:00:18here just well you know that on November thirteenth I'll be doing a live weapon are with Gary Erickson of clif bar to be talking about how to build a business in the business culture that reflects your personal values the weapon are is free it's supported by go to
00:00:33meeting and it's just one of the projects that grew out of our first how I built this summit in San Francisco if you want to check it out go to summit dot NPR dot org slash webinar that summit dot NPR dot org slash webinars and one more little
00:00:50thing this Thursday we're gonna be running our first bonus episode from the seven it's my live conversation with Jennifer hi men of rent the runway so be on the look out for that in your podcast queue and now here's the show it was not very scalable I mean
00:01:09they've been all things that summer that we did were not scalable I mean we would take the orders as basically phone operators and we would do the deliveries ourselves and I remember graduating from business school and two days later while my classmates for flying out on their exotic
00:01:26vacations I was delivering you know Thomas in my Honda from NPR it's how I build this show that innovators and entrepreneurs dealings stories behind the movements built I'm guy rise today show the story of how student named Tony shoes went from delivering Thai food to dorm rooms to
00:01:57building one of the biggest meal delivery services in America a college student he's to roll a giant cooler down the corridors of the dorm and he would shout out Chinese food man get your Chinese food and every Tuesday and Thursday night this very enterprising kid would go to
00:02:21a local Chinese take out he'd order a hundred Bucks or shall main and fried rice and beef and broccoli and egg rolls market up by about twenty percent and sell it to hungry college students at ten or eleven PM that night this was kind of a big deal
00:02:38in the nineteen nineties when the only real delivery option was pizza but of course at a certain point the novelty wore off and the Chinese food man got a job somewhere and that was it dorm room food delivery wasn't scalable except that today this very concept pulls in
00:02:58an estimated thirteen billion dollars in annual revenue imagine the following situation it's ten at night you want me low for a burrito or some fried chicken or a burger enjoy watching some show and well let's face it you don't have to get off the couch you'll want to
00:03:15leave your house C. grab your phone you click on GrubHub uber eats or post mates are door dash and boom thirty minutes later the food is at your door that you might think all of these services get started to solve this exact problem but actually when Tony shoot
00:03:34co founded door dash about five years ago he wasn't really thinking about us about the eaters he was thinking more about the restaurants chefs and the owners who want to get more of their food out into the world but didn't have an easy way to do this someone
00:03:50Tony was still a student in business school he and some friends build a system that link local restaurants to hungry customers to the drivers who were available to deliver the food they started with a simple web page eight restaurants hand a Honda accord five years on door dash
00:04:09is valued at over a billion dollars and it's done more than a hundred million deliveries across the country but getting to that point wasn't so simple Tony didn't start out with lots of connections or money in fact he only started to learn English as a boy Tony was
00:04:27actually born in Nanjing China and what it was for his dad got into an engineering program at the university of Illinois at Urbana Champaign his mother left behind her career in medicine and waited tables and as a kid Tony got to work to trying to fit in at
00:04:44his new American school there wasn't a lot of diversity at that time not in the late eighties and early nineties and so I'd really two ways to learn English and and really learn English on my own one was watching the TV %HESITATION and that's how I got my
00:05:02name I am I know your name your name is attorney no my Chinese name was Shoucheng and %HESITATION when I got to the U. S. none of my classmates normally teachers could pronounce my name as the only Asian kid in school on the registration form said Shoucheng decision
00:05:18did and as I was learning English watching lots of TV to do it I saw many episodes of who's the boss starring Tony to at the age of five I walk with my dad to the immigration office and legally change my name inspired by Tony danza from who's
00:05:36the bus absolutely did you did you do any like any business is a kid just anything I did have a couple of businesses so so %HESITATION we didn't actually come with a lot of money and so will %HESITATION in order for me to you know by Nintendo games
00:05:55or a new basketball %HESITATION I started working at at a pretty young age of a note wash dishes inside my mom's restaurant the one that she worked at the one sure your dishwasher I was a dishwasher I'm a very good dishwasher today and and and have those days
00:06:08to think about it but I I I mowed lawns %HESITATION and I realized actually at a very young age that wall because the lawns in Champaign or very large you can actually make a business out of that and I can actually charge money for different shapes along with
00:06:24you you invested in a lawn mower or %HESITATION we invested in a old lawn mower and I would go door to door to door in aspen couples grass and I started realizing over time actually if you cut grass at different heights you can come up with different shapes
00:06:39%HESITATION and patterns like live like the US flag like a moan of the US flag into someone's lawn so so at first use at first use the mower to to make the stripes and I could call him at different heights and then what I would do is and
00:06:52ask if I can borrow one of their clippers as well as %HESITATION I am blanking trimmers that are electric yeah yeah the lecture trimmers %HESITATION and effectively make different shapes in the lawn wow quite a line of China mereka flag %HESITATION many hours %HESITATION but when you really
00:07:11want to Nintendo and you have no money in the bank you deal with a text did you ever have any inkling as a kid that your parents are struggling I had a look maybe one a win to middle school had had small %HESITATION observations of it for example
00:07:32in a way we couldn't afford lessons for you know or sports uniforms we lived in a fairly small apartment comparison my friends who had single family homes I lived off of the no free lunch program for the much kindergarten through middle school so I think it's small semblance
00:07:52is of that but I think for most of my childhood I didn't think too much about that and just just just to be clear your mom was a doctor China right she was she was a doctor and she effectively had to give up her credentials because when she
00:08:08emigrated to the US no institution the US would recognize her credentials from China and so as a result she kind of had to go backwards so she worked as a waitress inside of a restaurant she worked as a babysitter she works at a hospice and and you know
00:08:28she did that for twelve years her for she could save up enough money to open up a medical clinic and basically re live and regain her life and try it am why your mom was doing all that stuff your dad essentially became an engineer and and I guess
00:08:45it is first job was in California so you guys move out there how old were you when you moved to California I was fifteen so you guys move out to where we're we moved to San Jose so you probably given where you move to all of a sudden
00:09:00we're a school where people there were people who looked like you were you felt right if you weren't the only Asian if for the first time almost like going back to China I'm one of the three kids now rated in it in Illinois in my grade that that's
00:09:14Asian and then I moved to San Jose and like wow this is it this is a surprise yeah and my opening conversation with %HESITATION the principal was one where he and other educators that says that I was like two years behind everyone and and and it's mainly because
00:09:33I had no idea how competitive the school system is here in the bay area you know in in the Midwest especially where I grew up %HESITATION you were recognized for athletic abilities at definitely wasn't cool to be the smart kid in class %HESITATION out here you know there
00:09:50were math competitions there were there were so many academic lessons after school and I worked my tail off I am I was miserable in my first year it was just to hear at night and all I did was pretty much all first catch up because I actually was
00:10:09behind and then secondly %HESITATION do a lot better sure and I remember looking that teachers in the eye and said I'm going to graduate as valedictorian of her class wow you said there is a freshman I said that it was almost an instinctual response looking back it was
00:10:28certainly a bit presumptuous but but but four years later that happened you were the valedictorian grad school I was okay so you go to college at UC Berkeley and then eventually you go to Stanford for business school right yeah and one of the things that you do in
00:10:46business school is you Crigler projects yes which spoiler alert with this is the sort of the beginnings of what would eventually become door dash but tell me about this project that that you did for for a class what was it well the the assignment was to work on
00:11:05a customer audience that you're passionate about and try a bunch of things and that was really what my co founders and I kind of gravitated towards you know my co founders and I we we all met really because of an inch shared interest for local businesses we're with
00:11:20a in a class with you but they were so you all sat around said how can we help local businesses like scale or just make their their operations more efficient we didn't even know what problem to to work on at first I was just that on is that
00:11:33we're passion about and and you know each each person has their own personal connection with a local business might was clearly to my mom's business I've watched her in the world of local business for twenty plus years growing up as right and so I've always been a fan
00:11:48and we started by talking to a lot of businesses in the bay area all sorts of businesses what were you asking them asking them about %HESITATION if there is a magic wand and we could take away any problem free this week what would it be so you would
00:12:03call up a restaurant say Hey we go in physically young guy Hey I'm Tony I'm a student at Stanford and we're working on a project and if your magic wand what's up one probably could solve that's what you guys to do yeah what do they tell you what's
00:12:15the problem Wilder funeral we it we had heard a few so with her challenges with staffing we had her challenges with how do we know where customers find out about us and and actually the first idea that we had worked on was really an idea towards helping them
00:12:31better understand where the customers are coming from is more of a marketing solution %HESITATION where we put a tablet at the check out and ask very simply when a customer was checking out what you are how did you hear about this business and that was actually the very
00:12:45first idea would break down all right so we're that idea go what happened to it we realize that while it's a helpful idea era %HESITATION that it wouldn't be the fastest way to help small business so to maybe we can help and tell you where your customers are
00:13:00coming from and you can deploy more dollars into those marking channels or maybe we can just came more customers and and that was when we started shifting our our shared interest and attention towards how do we do that so how do you do it cell while we started
00:13:16hearing about challenges with delivery and delivering like from restaurants florists some retail stores and this very bizarre because deliveries been around forever forever yeah and yet outside in New York City %HESITATION just been no one does delivery eighty five percent of restaurants in America don't deliver so you're
00:13:38hearing from from restaurants and delivery delivery delivery and then what salami Tyra one customer said that this is a a cake store owner and shook her store is five hundred square feet me me the size of your studio and she would say things about turning down ten to
00:13:57fifteen orders a week this is material this is very very special when you're making cakes especially when your expensive they're expensive and as I remember how many orders my mom would used to do in her restaurant in Illinois at like ten fifteen or is this a lot she
00:14:13was turning them down why because she had no way to deliver them she didn't want to do it herself K. she you know she was she was a one person show many of the days so she could not afford to hire cannot afford higher right and and and
00:14:26and when she did try to hire you know she had this challenge of world you know only it's sometimes with the drivers busy because %HESITATION you know when there was a spike in demand that then the maybe the drivers very busy but on most days the driver's doing
00:14:38nothing and but she had to pay the driver obviously for for both the up time in the down time she literally had copies of customers payment information and details that she can offer fill and so this is just crazy this is this is so on American to to
00:14:55to turn down all these credit cards and so that was really would turn our eye towards is there an opportunity and delivery if so what is it so at that point you guys start to do some research to find out that one we did research to figure out
00:15:11why his delivery not a thing outside in your city and the second thing we did was can we run a small pilot here at Stanford campus to test out ideas so it on the first piece %HESITATION we would you know do deliveries for what services like dominoes or
00:15:27fat acts and we would learn how to how does deliveries actually work what do you mean you would do to live she would go and would just be drivers you owe you you mean you applied to domino's friendship just be a driver you actually went to go work
00:15:40for domino's yeah so you guys were fewer students at Stanford graduate school of business but you also at these like part time gigs working as drivers for fed ex and domino's just to really to learn about how this works we were just trying to figure out how delivery
00:15:55works because none of us you know Nestle had background you know in logistics and so we learned a couple of pretty interesting observations that the first two US was is so hard as a single store to know how many drivers to put in the store you know if
00:16:10there is for example a football game at Stanford wait times would skyrocket sure you know we we would we would we wouldn't know what to do we know how to flex up the number of drivers in this would happen at a florist to if there's Valentine's day good
00:16:23luck you know we're call this the store owners are literally calling all of their families and relatives and friends liver flower delivery right because you can't you can't flex up okay but then think about you know a normal day of the week we're literally were folding pizza boxes
00:16:40the drivers because there isn't a volume and so you have this very difficult and inefficient use of expensive labor then it and so as consumption is becoming more last minute isn't it strange that the way these goods are brought to us require advance planning and is just this
00:16:59weird juxtaposition to us that says well maybe there's something here and and so we said well let's just let's just run a test let let's just do something on Stanford campus something simple let's let's pick one thing to deliver instead of trying to deliver everything we chose restaurants
00:17:16%HESITATION because more people eat twenty to twenty five times a week and we had research that eighty five percent of them did not do their own delivers in fact all the restaurants with spoken to in the bay area had zero delivery and so when we saw last we
00:17:30said well okay is that because he wants the deliveries or is that because of something else and so that's what that was really the crux of what we wanted to test when we were at Stanford art so you decide to test this theory out yes and and how
00:17:44and what did you do what what what we what were you offering and and how did you do it so on a Saturday we built a website called hello to delivery dot you guys all knew how to do this %HESITATION we we we did a whole building website
00:17:59fairly straightforward %HESITATION and what we did is we put eight PDF menus on call to deliver dot com and from local restaurant local restaurants K. there was a a Google voice number that I had signed up for that would ring the cell phones of all of my classmates
00:18:15and and now founders and me and and that was it to you and and did you partner with these Russians you call and say Hey we're gonna we do not do that did you ask for permission we do not and you didn't address beginning know what you just
00:18:27pick the restaurant we picked eight restaurants that we like and what went out %HESITATION there was Bangkok cuisine which is a Thai restaurant there was orange home is which is a common story middle eastern how much food there was a Chinese restaurant there there was an Indian restaurant
00:18:41and there was a salad bar and and people could call the number and just order off the menu and then yeah and so how are you going to make money if the restaurants to know like who is you're just going to hope that they tipped you like housing
00:18:54who aren't we were not necessarily making money so we were %HESITATION so we would take the orders as basically you know phone operators and we would do the deliveries ourselves there was no there was no there was no act was just a website it was it Janke web
00:19:09page and you call the number and he called and he would say hello it's Tony from Palo alto delivery may help you yes and they would say sure I want a big bucket of homeless and some pizza and %HESITATION you know some she was a great %HESITATION and
00:19:26then how would you know how long it was going to take we will make it has had it in the beginning with gas and was that a forty five to an hour %HESITATION it's a forty five minutes and we could drive to the store originally was called or
00:19:37into moose first losing we would call on that please call on the way %HESITATION yeah we call on the way and we would place the order to pick up on behalf of the customer show up at the customer and use it so I I used to work at
00:19:50square as well so take a square card reader and using I like I like a summer internship is where I did a summer interest at square and it's so take advanced Curtis were card readers and with me so I would plug them into my phone and use that
00:20:03to receive the payment essentially meaning you were just being reimbursed for for buying their food at the homeless bar yes we weren't we weren't losing money which is for making any money and how quickly from the time you put it out there until the time your phones rang
00:20:17did you did you start getting orders we got our first order of forty five minutes after actually after launching my house and that was very pleasant surprise the only way this customer could have found this was by typing in Palo alto delivery into the browser hitting enter and
00:20:36finding us yeah and and you know this because for some places an order at a at a Thai restaurant %HESITATION who could deliver it at a microphone and me and then when you should address place did you say thank you so much work grad students at Stanford business
00:20:50school doing this research or did you just say here's your food but we actually did the former actually taped the whole thing we actually I'll ask for permission and that and and a video that we've %HESITATION with my phone and and ask them how you found out about
00:21:03us you know and and a few other questions gives like okay thanks for the food or what he was really friendly is actually a visiting author and he he was a bit of entrepreneurial spirit himself %HESITATION and and and he was very supportive of of what we're doing
00:21:19so you decide that you're going to keep this going yes so how how are you if your Google for voice phone was gonna rain presumably twenty four hours a day and that you and your co founders had to do all the deliveries how did that work well as
00:21:34a bit of a limited service so we we only offered service when we were not in class was really a lot techno great technology there yeah great killer at is is it I I never available from nine to noon you were available five eight PM does actually what
00:21:49we what we are available it in so this is this is certainly not the it is certainly not a venture but those are the early days so how long did you guys do this for what we did this we did this for five months and what reserved by
00:22:05what I mean every time you were doing delivery were you recording like how long it took you would you like a book or or like a spreadsheet the reporting numbers in there a few things said that the three major questions our minds at the time your number one
00:22:19was want to live free and how much are people willing to pay for it yeah number two %HESITATION we were interested in in our restaurants and shin working with us so as we started getting orders we talk to the restaurants and asking is this something that you know
00:22:33you find valuable is it you know would you pay for the service afterwards instead of a customer paying a premium with the restaurant pay you guys yes Kay and and then the final question was as you mentioned we were in class at the time so sometimes is difficult
00:22:49%HESITATION being in class and on the delivery at the same time and so we started trying to recruit drivers at Stanford and so we're trying to figure out what can we do that am people be they're willing to use their own vehicles would people be willing to know
00:23:04how much do they need to be paid things like this those are the three areas that were really interested and at what point did you knew cofounder say this is our business we're gonna look what what what what information did you get did you gather the convinced you
00:23:21this this was going to be the thing that I try to do gathered there wasn't there wasn't that moment we were to invest such little volume we we were delivering maybe five to ten hours a day half of whom from our friends at its home ID this certainly
00:23:35from the data it would have been too far a jump around to says Hey there's a business here but you know I I think two things kept us going one was just enjoying working with one another and and then second was we kept getting positive answers to the
00:23:52questions we are asking you know is this something that consumers wanted is this something that restaurants were willing to pay for is this something the drivers were willing to to to partner with and so it was more incremental then and it and it would there wasn't these you
00:24:07know step function jumps per se we're very small service still at the time did you strike a deal with any of these restaurants in that time to you you did with it so some of them look sure we'll give you like a percentage of the sale all of
00:24:18them actually %HESITATION well yeah but it's not like you were bringing them a whole lot of business no the first check I remember cutting to %HESITATION very popular store today was for twenty one dollars and some change said this the I mean at this point this thing this
00:24:34is not scalable it was not very scalable I mean even all things that summer that we did were not scalable mean I remember graduating from business school and two days later while my classmates for you know flying out on their exotic vacations I was delivering you know how
00:24:54much in my Honda when we come back in just a moment attorney she went from delivering Humm us in his Honda in Palo alto delivering just about every food you could imagine all across the country stay with us I'm guy rising you're listening to how I built this
00:25:13from NPR Hey everyone just put thanks to two of our sponsors who helped make this podcast possible first to American Express lots of people have great ideas but turning ideas into reality is pretty far fewer people do that even harder for them to do it alone whether those
00:25:49people need big strategic thinking dated a business help American Express believe support is part of the magic formula after all there's no I in week the matter what your idea big or small you don't have to go it alone because American Express has your back don't do business
00:26:07without it thanks also to twenty three in me twenty three in me helps you understand what your DNA can tell you about you and your family story is your loved ones get together this thanksgiving discover the genetic connections you share you and your family can learn where your
00:26:24DNA is from out of a hundred and fifty plus regions worldwide after thanksgiving twenty three and me ancestry service gets are fifty dollars off each kid when you buy two or more learn more at twenty three and me dot com slash built the story core podcast returns this
00:26:45fall with twelve all new episodes about reunions this week what it's like to spend years searching for a father only to find someone you didn't even know you were looking for here more on the story core podcast episodes are available every Tuesday welcome back to how I built
00:27:10this from NPR so it's twenty thirteen and twenty shoes company Palo alto delivery growing a whole lot and it's clear he and his partners need more money to make this food delivery service thing grow so they decide to apply to the why commentator accelerator program and well they
00:27:31get in so that's like comical take it right I don't know if we've used as a going to get as much as just the next step on the way to you know of our projects because they're still very small at the time we were you know were high
00:27:47fiving each other when we did twenty orders a day read this yeah I'm not a very large service so will certainly not obvious that that that there would be a business you so what is why coming or get you does it do they do they give you because
00:27:59I don't give you a whole %HESITATION cash right now they have a twenty thousand dollars at the time and then they get a small piece of ownership yes and but you're in this thing which is very prestigious and of course all these V. Caesar like vultures circling around
00:28:13why companies are looking for the next big thing then what with twenty thousand Bucks I mean was a still a webpage with PDF's of menus it was still web page egg a cattle are sophisticated we we wouldn't be involved from the P. S. and and into two actual
00:28:31store menu pages for a you know a customer can order it wasn't it was still all wet though nothing on your own so so at the end of why commentator it culminates into what's called demo day we catch yes were you pitch in and for and with there
00:28:46before companies in in our group and all four companies pitch in on stage to a group of investors so what Sam investor there I'm gonna listen to this and I'm gonna say Tony you're really smart and impressive guy you present really well I just don't understand what's the
00:29:04big deal like how is this going to be different than the elders GrubHub and there's this and there's that and I I I don't I don't get what you are offering what did you say I said the word building logistics business not a food delivery company and you
00:29:20know our goal is to not just to food but we need to start somewhere and we need to you know show value from day one and this is the best way to serve businesses so how much money did you guys would be able to raise out of those
00:29:37pitches so we raised two million dollars a two point two million dollars in our seed round in the seed round when the seed round that's as you said it was hard to raise money but that's pretty amazing it was it was a bit of a harrowing experience because
00:29:52our bank account was dwindling quickly to tends you know between ten and twenty thousand dollars I had that right and that you know from grad school as did my co founders yeah I had a wedding also upcoming my own wedding that I was struggling to pay for so
00:30:06I did take a loan should hello what should have let that's true so all right so what was that two million dollars going to get you guys what I mean you what did you need to do with that money all we needed to prove that the service was
00:30:21viable in a in a market right and and in one area and so we chose Saturday but you couldn't do that with a web page you had to at this point I'm assuming build a nap yes so so after graduating why commentator with launcher apps and some members
00:30:38of the month after it and and what were you called Palo alto delivery that pointer or gord ash ending in Y. commentator we launched as a door dash has come up with that name so it was a bit of a nerdy experience but we %HESITATION my co founders
00:30:53and I am with a few very simple criteria we wanted a name that's easy to spell a name that was two syllables or less whose domain name is available and there's a three pressure and we read a script across on the internet to crawl meal many third party
00:31:08services that lists websites that the go Daddy is of the world and found toward each and camps nobody on it nobody on it so for nine dollars and ninety five cents we were able to purchased or national out and who your drivers there mainly ourselves there was my
00:31:24co founders and me and the early employees at or actually did all of the deliveries for the first almost the first year to run the business and you are delivering yes home so it was a it wasn't exactly twenty four seven but it was very close and what
00:31:42was it that you were in that year trying to figure out trying what information were you trying to gather over realizing that the most difficult part of what we do with consumers margins and drives you three parties now not not just to %HESITATION is that you have to
00:32:00build a lot of products that consumers don't see how do you get the order to the restaurant how do you reconcile orders if they go wrong what about payments how do you actually he tied to the accounting that restaurants are are you doing how do you know which
00:32:17dory should be entering if your driver delivering because of all these things save precious minutes which also saves money for it %HESITATION for consumers because if we can save costs out of the system we can lower fees to consumers so who was doing all of the coding and
00:32:35the the data analysis and sucking all that stuff in organizing it sue my co founders led the engineering team and a lot of her early recruits we had an unfair advantage of friendship we would happily hire a lot of friends right most of the that initial early engineering
00:32:53commercially still adore ash today %HESITATION but but that was really the early crew that build the product how did you get the word out about him and and yeah how did you even start well we %HESITATION we employ a a tactic that that that that work for us
00:33:08pretty well at Stanford campus which was at the time we %HESITATION we would print out flyers and would stuff take out bags at restaurants here's the here's the challenge the printing is not free and we and we you know that in that summer on when we were just
00:33:24testing this project out with printed out a hundred thousand plus copies of fires wow so I broke every single color printer on campus it and submit into mystery right schools out no no students are supposed to be on campus but yet all the color printers and the tires
00:33:40need to be replaced every day that and so what and SO when we launch centers a we did something very similar we printed out for years and we you know distributed them to the different restaurants in the restaurants got the word out on our behalf so were you
00:33:53on the phone all the time restaurants trying to explain what you did trying to get them to sign up with you or to partner with you absolutely I went door to door to door to sign up for first fifty restaurants and and and later who we we we
00:34:08we were involved and phone calls and and other other ways of reaching the restaurants after that first year in San Jose when did you decide okay this gonna work let's go let's go the next city not so says San Jose over a three four months of time is
00:34:24growing very very very fast and once we discovered that and that's when we decided to a raise our next round of financing to see if we can take this beyond the bay area and you need that money create new technology to create new technology were hiring people to
00:34:42have higher sales people %HESITATION when we launch into a city we have to make sure drivers on the road and so with the Hey dashers on the road we have to spend on marketing it was really %HESITATION to operate the business we needed the cap so let's just
00:34:58talk about this for me because my understanding of door dashes there's an app for the user like I have door dash on my phone and then the restaurant has a different app yes right ever has a different yes that's a really expensive too did do all that back
00:35:14in technology it's even more complicated in that we have to and then build lots of systems to figure out how long it's gonna take you know for this delivery what's it gonna be for deep dish pizza versus the salad what if they come in in the same order
00:35:27how do you even start to figure that out well you get into the lowest level of details you have to so this is this is why one of the best things that could have happened to our company was that every single person to deliveries and customer support every
00:35:41single day for the first year actually still do this today would we do this in a once a month instead of you know every day %HESITATION every single person in the company and so as a result you become an expert you learn about different systems you learn about
00:35:53the nuances of you know how difficult this parking verses if the food is in a different file from the drinks from a different I'll from the deserts you learn how to Coley those orders you learn how to build that into the software so that you can scale this
00:36:10across the country so it is a little bit like stitch fix which is yeah they sell fashion but ultimately you really a data company yes we're %HESITATION in many western applied math company right we we we are we are collecting lots of information we're trying to digitize the
00:36:25physical world we're trying understand where is every parking lot we're try to understand where is every construction zone where is every alley was every elevator inside of a mall and how does it work because the delivery fee is how much the delivery fee is a range from a
00:36:42dollar ninety nine to five nine nine so there's two ways that %HESITATION door ash makes money on Torres makes money from the consumer so delivery fee then door Ashman twenty from the restaurant %HESITATION right percentage of the order okay and so it's really you know the combination %HESITATION
00:36:57that makes the model work I'm curious like when you think about this dis aggregated world we live in right can this industries the logistics industry support door dash GrubHub uber eats post mates on and on and on do you think they can all coexist in that world or
00:37:19do you think there's ultimately going to have to be one or two winners so it is a very giant spaces you mention %HESITATION there are when we were doing a research during the company five years ago there were eight hundred plus companies just in third party logistics I
00:37:34know we know about the faxes in the U. P. S. is your horse and full service but there are eight hundred plus companies just delivering parcel that we've researched and I'm sure round the country %HESITATION around the country the offline world is so much bigger and disaggregated to
00:37:52your point no the second thing I would say is when you look at the our current industry the restaurant industry it is not yet even online ninety five percent of orders still happen through a phone call or an in person visit only five percent occurs through an internet
00:38:09connection I know we talk about a lot of these other services but the fact of the matter is that we are in the very early standings AB gigantic industry we really remember started this all started because of a wanton desire to help local business it's also given toward
00:38:27ash the clarity to go and get all the details right even the ones that don't seem scalable there's for example a cheese cake factory that we deliver from in San Francisco it's on the sixth floor of the mall of Macy's to make it out of town in downtown
00:38:46in the Union Square in the shopping district is a nightmare to drive and it's a night it is very hard to me his deliveries and to make that one deliveries from the one store happened with the fine dedicated parking that we negotiate with them all we have to
00:38:59find dedicated access to a mall elevator that only law flees indentures receive that we have to figure out how to get orders from different stations because that stores so large to to make the ones to were happen I am losing sleep just thinking about trying to figure that
00:39:18out this is one problem that's one of two hundred forty two cheese cake factors one of two hundred thousand businesses Charlie I am really interested in in just the pressure you know like I am I want to get into the movie in your head right you're you're the
00:39:33sort of like internal dialogue you guys ever raised enough money now from different major investors were your valuation is a one point four billion dollars if I'm you I am like hi I'm so I'm nervous I mean of course you've got a project confidence in you and you
00:39:54gotta believe in this thing but that's a lot of pressure does it feel like a lot of pressure it's a lot of responsibility but it's one that I feel very very lucky to have I mean if you think about it I just wide by users wired to think
00:40:11it over that way are you are you just kind of an even keeled diamine so I don't necessarily focus on you know some of those metrics your life we started this company again to help the businesses on the streets why are we doing that we're doing that because
00:40:28the business on the streets even in Silicon Valley produce sixty percent of the jobs inside every city and we need to help them we need help mortar stores we need to give them technology we need to offer them logistics I guess when my brain thinks about that if
00:40:46things a bit less maybe about you know the the company valuation or you know how much pressure necessarily we're under I think more instead about the future I think about how do we actually service that opportunity how do we make the job easier for you know the the
00:41:05dashers how do you think about serving other types of businesses that's where my brain goes where do you where do you see this this in ten years if if you if you are you know if you're building your serve dream house vision right like you've got your manager
00:41:20magic wand like US these businesses early on Hey your magic wand what's prompted you oneself you've got the magic wand and door dash is what in ten years is it is it the Netflix of of delivery is it the Amazon until it what what is it torn ash
00:41:38is biggest infrastructure for city that connects consumers and merchants we would be we would be your first phone call if you want to start a company %HESITATION we can help you start that business we can introduce you to customers on the business we would want to introduce all
00:41:57of the customers to all of your use cases delivery being one of them but certainly I I still envision even in ten years people going into stores we're still social creatures we're still going to go hang out with their friends or co workers or spouses and partners %HESITATION
00:42:14I want to do that in the physical world door national help you figure out which business is to do that with and will be the best way to grow local businesses when do you I mean I mean there's different sort of different measurements but from what I understand
00:42:31you're you don't have the biggest market share right even the biggest chunk of market share yet but I have to assume it's a goal right to capture the greatest share of the market I'm do you feel like you're heading in that direction we've been the fastest growing service
00:42:49in the space for the past year and %HESITATION or actually the biggest service in about sixty percent of the population in the US %HESITATION so we have ground to cover and as we were not the first service we feel very very good about the trajectory and we feel
00:43:06very very good about and the fact that the ideas that we had come up with a few years ago around servicing merchants in the best way have really prove proven out well yeah can you even imagine what you would do afterwards once this company goes public or is
00:43:26sold whatever happens you know once everybody cashes out what do you what do you think I haven't given that a lot of thought you know most of my days are pretty obsessed over the people that we have that and %HESITATION the plans for the future I am in
00:43:45the business we have haven't given much thought about %HESITATION what you know when I've worked so again I go back to my life decision framework of where my gonna have the most fun in the lease regret and that's what I'm joined today how much of your success to
00:44:04tribute to skill and hard work and intelligence and how much of of what was happening is do you think it's because of luck there's a lot of luck involved in in shaping a lot of the circumstances for me %HESITATION it's it's it's absolutely combination it's short answer but
00:44:21but when I think back in my life I've come a long way on the shoulders of a lot of great people who I was going to meet in school to %HESITATION things I studied in the past that somehow have magically made its way back into my life today
00:44:38%HESITATION to people in Silicon Valley who you know before even having a you know a a business partnership with with me or the companies who have more than a volunteer their time to help me %HESITATION there's been a lot of fortune circumstances for me on the flip side
00:44:57of course there's a lot of hard work and I think you know the hard work skil is is really not of one person and I think that's the thing that sometimes people forget I think we live in a world where it's easy to idolize this the stars %HESITATION
00:45:20to me the real heroes are are my teammates and the people whose collective hours skills hard work and drive art what has allowed me to be successful today Tony issue co founder of door dash to dash is now delivered more than a hundred million orders in cities across
00:45:47the United States and if you happen to live in the San Jose area and used toward ash on the right day of the month you might get your noodles or breakfast or how most delivered hi Tony himself in his Honda accord it is the same Honda what come
00:46:02under it's a two thousand one Honda accord to sweet Honda accord it's an amazing Honda accord great delivery via how many miles you have on your Honda accord nearing two hundred thousand live it today you're the CEO of a one point four billion dollar valuation company and %HESITATION
00:46:17you got two thousand one Honda accord center it's a great car great you should be driving that I will do it for as long as it lasts and please do stick around because in just a moment we're gonna hear from you about the things your building but first
00:46:39a quick thanks to one of our sponsors male champ it might sound like MailChimp only does email marketing but they can do a lot more to help your business grow with landing pages audience management and automation MailChimp they do more than male Hey thanks so much for sticking
00:46:58around because it's time now for how you build that and today story begins a few years ago in Miami with Ashland cook and our dog so my dog's name is when Stan and he is a German shorthair pointer he is liver colored anyway actually was working in Miami
00:47:15in the fashion business and she met a guy named dean who also had a pointer we started hanging out and running with our dogs taking the dogs to the beach and eventually it turned into more actually than dean and the dogs Winston and Louis bonded and eventually the
00:47:32humans in the story started dating now things were going great but then earlier this year dean got a job offer in boulder Colorado so Ashland decided that might be assigned to get out of Miami and head to the mountains so the four of them to humans two dogs
00:47:50relocated and actually had to figure out what to do next I really wanted to do something on my own I had had the entrepreneurial bug for over a year at that point and I knew I wanted to do something with dogs but with a little twist so we
00:48:05had bounced ideas off each other for dog food and honestly I just thought of a future for dogs just came out of my mouth and we looked at each other like this other thing well it turns out food trucks for dogs were sort of a thing the refuse
00:48:21scattered across the country but nothing in Colorado so actual Indian pull together their savings they get a loan from actual his dad and they bought a custom built trailer that looks like one of those vintage models from the nineteen fifties they have that iconic paint job where half
00:48:39of the bottom is a different color and it has that canned ham shape with the rounded edges and after she ordered the trailer actual and got together with the local chef to come up with a bunch of recipes for healthy dog treats with no salt no sugar no
00:48:54fillers and Winston actual pointer he was a good taste tester for us because he is a picky dog of finding out like okay he really likes this one he didn't like this one I remember I tried to make a dried banana tree but he would put in his
00:49:10mouth and spit it out so I realize okay Winston does not like bananas but Winston's did like some of the other treats actually came up with pumpkin apple spice cookies kini squash biscuits and one of his favorites bison burger jerky it is made with just three ingredients ground
00:49:28device in which we do source from a local bison ranch cranberries and organic flax seeds and I know this stuff sounds like food you might order at one of those farm to table restaurant right but of course actually target demographic was just dogs and the dogs centric nature
00:49:46of her business actually proved to be a problem when she started to apply for the permits she needed to launch the truck the most challenging part ways defining ourselves as a new category a lot of the city's would say well we only allow food trucks for humans other
00:50:03cities would say well no one's ever come to us with that type of business before we have no idea how to define you guys so we ended up going the route of just full on getting all the permits and a few human food truck so finally this past
00:50:18June Ashland started parking the truck at breweries dog parks in farmers markets all around boulder in since then things been going pretty well treats are popular and a major sign of customer by in a lot of the dogs are starting to recognize the truck %HESITATION absolutely they will
00:50:37literally jumped up to the counter with their two front legs and stand up at the counter it is hysterical the company is called the windy Lou it's named for actual inside Winston and dean's dog Louise and in addition to that one food truck when you lose ourselves treats
00:50:54online and it's six independence had stores in Colorado so there are thousands of pet stores in the United States and we would love to be and all of the independently owned smaller pet stores that we can to find out more about Winnie Lou or to your previous episodes
00:51:15head to our podcast page how I built this dot NPR dot org and of course if you want to tell us your story going to build god NPR dot org thanks so much for listening to the show this week you can subscribe where ever you get your podcasts
00:51:30could also write to us at H. I. B. T. at NPR dot org and once in a tweet at how we build our show was produced this week by James still who see music composed by Ramstein air Louis thanks also to G. C. Howard's could see the progress
00:51:45seven Mexican for Jeff Rogers interns and guy rise and you've been listening to how I built this from NPR

Transcribed by algorithms. Report Errata
Disclaimer: The podcast and artwork embedded on this page are from NPR, which is the property of its owner and not affiliated with or endorsed by Listen Notes, Inc.


Thank you for helping to keep the podcast database up to date.