By Ooshma Garg (Founder & CEO, Gobble)
Building Gobble has been the ride of a lifetime. In just six months, we have enjoyed a number of early successes: fundraising $1.2M from top Silicon Valley investors, launching on the front page of The San Francisco Chronicle, and seeing happy repeat use of the service from families and companies around the Bay Area. So what’s in our secret startup recipe?
We live and die by 5 core values that have helped us get this far and will now keep us charging into the future.
#1: Create happy experiences.
I believe that happiness is contagious -– if our team is happy, our customers will be happy. So, we prioritize not just preventing negative experiences, or providing general customer satisfaction, but also going out of our way to create a truly happy moment.
One time, we had a customer who had forgotten to pickup the meals he had ordered from us. We had reached the end of the dinner pickup shift and he still had not arrived, so we decided to call him and ask if he would like us to rush-deliver the meals to his home, at no extra charge. We learned that he was a father who was busy at home with his kids and couldn’t get away to pick up his meals that night. He happily accepted the rush delivery, and that evening, he was able to enjoy a Gobble meal with his children, without having to leave them for an instant.
In other circumstances, if we can’t get in touch with customers who forget about their orders, or if they are no longer able to enjoy their meals for that day, we gift the meals to nearby families or deliver them to a local food shelter.
It’s essential that each customer not only gets their dinner, but is so pleased and excited about his experience that he remembers it and can’t wait for his next meal. We maintain this high level of enthusiasm in our office every day, and it’s what keeps us all uber-excited and ready to tackle every oncoming challenge.
#2: Whatever it takes. Get sh*t done.
At such an early stage, each person on the Gobble team has a very independent and powerful role. The result is that each person is constantly pushed to perform at the next level, because everyone has such a huge responsibility all to his or herself, such as recruiting chefs, building our subscriptions product, or dealing with all customer communications.
Roshani is a brilliant example of a team member who never complains and simply gets sh*t done. Each week, Roshani works day and night to grow our number of available chef partners and meals by 15 percent. She is ruthlessly emailing, IM-ing, phone interviewing, planning meetings, and making fliers until the wee hours of the morning in our office…and continuing at 5:30am after a nap in her studio apartment.
Yet, as one of four team members at a crazy early-stage startup, she still has time to work out every day. How’s that possible?! you might think. Recently, I discovered the answer. As I was coming back from a meeting, I found Roshani chatting away with a potential chef on the office staircase with her Bluetooth headset on, cell phone in hand, pumping her fists up and down in the air as she trotted up and down the stairs. Roshani works out for hours every day as she paces up and down our three story building, all while screening new chefs to join the Gobble family. This is scrappy. This is productive. This is getting sh*t done.
#3: Focus. And, never give up.
A few weeks ago, we had a pivotal team meeting to discuss and determine the most important measure of success for our company. We decided to focus our efforts on maximizing the number of orders per week, which we chose to become the overall metric governing Gobble. This, in turn, led us to do two things to maintain our desired growth:
First, we broke down our core metric into several sub-metrics that influence the overall growth of Gobble’s orders per week: the quantity and variety of meals available, the smooth operation of our pickups and deliveries, the accessibility of our website, and the reliability of our community and customer support. Quickly, each team member stepped up to take full ownership of one or more pieces of the puzzle, understanding that each of our individual metrics will directly impact the company’s overall success.
Second, we set up a huge monitor in the office, visible to everyone on our team, that displays graphs of both our projected and actual Gobble orders each week and our projected and actual sub-metrics. With a physical reminder of our quantitative progress staring us in the face each day, we are always reminded to exercise complete concentration and perseverance in our efforts.
#4: Set the curve.
Our team at Gobble is incredibly driven, and that’s because we hire people with a crazy hunger for success. All of our team members have amazing track records of using their potential to the best of their abilities and consistently setting the bar in their endeavors.
Patricia was recognized as one of the top three writers in her entire 2000+ person class at Stanford. When Patricia stepped into the offices on her first day at Gobble, we had over 700+ emails in our customer support inbox. The rest of our team had been completely swamped with operations and individual responsibilities, and I suggested that Patricia take on our customer support emails as one of her long-term projects.
Patricia was cheery but quiet for most of the day, and I assumed that she was reading through emails, our blog, and our press while getting to learn the ropes at Gobble. Little did I know that she was actually creating an entire categorization system for our customer support inbox, swiftly picking up our professional writing style from previous correspondence with customers, and sending out quick but thoughtful responses to address all of the urgent questions and concerns from our customers.
Within 24 hours, there were only 300 emails in the customer support inbox. And, within 72 hours, Patricia achieved inbox zero. She attacked the project with pure self-motivation and it hasn’t stopped -– she has been learning more, taking on more responsibility, and speeding up
Gobble’s productivity every day since. She sets the curve, and it inspires me to be better every day.
#5: Wash the dishes.
As much as we have a laser focus on our individual responsibilities, we all have to remember the broader picture: If the product fails, we lose a customer. If we don’t respond to people’s questions quickly, we lose a customer. If we don’t deliver the food warm and on-time, we lose a customer. If we don’t find a reliable marketing channel, we don’t get customers.
I quickly learned that every person and every piece of the puzzle matters equally when trying to get a customer from Google-ing to Gobble-ing successfully. There’s no task too small for anyone, and each person cares about the company enough to do what we call “washing the dishes” -– stepping into any role or picking up any errand for the team, whenever necessary.
Melissa is a shining example of the ideal Gobble team player. She is a part-time driver for Gobble. Not only is she always on time (and often early) for work, but she also makes time outside of her delivery schedule to clean and wash her delivery equipment and the equipment of other drivers. When she comes early and has extra time, she often asks if we need any quick errands or tasks that day and helps the team prepare for the day’s orders with an incredibly happy and helpful hand.
At a high level, I’ve realized that prolonged success comes from building a company with expert people, guided by heartfelt and clear values. With an unyielding foundation, we are ready for anything and hungry for more. Isn’t it dinnertime yet?
Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.
About the guest blogger: Ooshma Garg is the Founder and CEO of Gobble, an online marketplace for fresh meals prepared by the best chefs in your local neighborhood. In June 2010, Inc. Magazine named Ooshma one of America’s Top 30 Under 30 Entrepreneurs. Prior to Gobble, Ooshma built Anapata, an online student recruiting platform. Outside of Gobble’s Palo Alto office, she enjoys singing with woo, a local band. Ooshma holds a B.S. in BioMechanical Engineering from Stanford University. Follow her on Twitter at @ooshma.