At the DataDreamers lab, we’ve been experimenting with some new ways to help you create a successful RDS. This week we’re introducing two new restaurant delivery resources – one human, one digital. We’ll start with the human.
Phil Dumontet is the Founder and former President of DASHED, the Restaurant Delivery Service (RDS) acquired by Grubhub in 2017. He was named on Forbes magazine’s 30 under 30 in 2016 and DASHED won numerous awards under his leadership, including:
- Being named the leading restaurant delivery service in the Northeast by Inc. Magazine, who also ranked DASHED as one of the fastest-growing companies in the U.S. for two years in a row
- One of Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top 30 Startups to Watch and Best Entrepreneurial Companies
- Best in Biz Silver award for Fastest Growing Company in the country
It’s safe to say he is our resident expert.
Here are some highlights from some recent back and forth with Phil:
Welcome, Phil! Tell us a little bit about yourself and share some highlights
from your DASHED experience.
Thanks! Glad to help.
I’m married and my wife and I started up a couple of restaurants in the Denver/Boulder area after the Grubhub buyout. The irony is I’m on the other side now, relying on an RDS to help me create and keep happy customers. I also do some consulting.
When I can, I escape to run the awesome Colorado trails, sometimes I make it a bike ride.
DASHED was a wonderful ride. It was a literal ride at first – I started on a bike in downtown Boston, partnering with my brother’s company, Foodler. I eventually graduated to a Vespa motor scooter. From the beginning, I was focused on fast delivery.
Many of the delivery services were just too slow and some were going out of business, so I saw an opening and jumped on it.
Right before the Grubhub acquisition, we had about 800 drivers and 1000 restaurants. So it took about nine years, from bootstrap to buyout, and more than a few sleepless nights.
I’ll be sharing more about the DASHED experience as we go along…
So, do tell! What’s it like to have Grubhub come knocking?
Yeah. Pretty mind-bending. When I first heard about it, I was surprised. I didn’t set out to build a business to sell. I was just focused on being the best and fastest in my locale and then moving onto a new locale once we’d established ourselves.
Another reaction I had initially was that DASHED was my baby. I’d spent nine years raising it and I realized I had a lot of my identity wrapped up in that business.
This is one of the realities of Entrepreneurship. It takes a huge amount of energy and effort to break inertia. It’s like an airliner taking off, you’ve got to go full throttle for a bit to get a successful business off the ground.
All in all, of course, it was a fantastic experience and I’m very grateful.
It’s been a minute since you started DASHED. What’s changed in the industry?
No doubt, there’s been a lot of change. It’s much more competitive now, for sure. So, you have to find a way to stand out, and it’s not just about being different, it’s being passionate about what you do and how you do it.
There are way more tools and tech options now, and that can be a little overwhelming. But I still think the game is about hustle and learning by doing. It’s being obsessive about excellent service and creating the systems and processes to be consistent.
What hasn’t changed, is that you have to be laser-focused about providing the best service in your five-mile radius. Think local, don’t try to have a huge footprint at first. Getting solid and building relationships in your locale is essential before you start thinking about the next market. I see RDS owners trying to take too big a bite of the market too soon.
Another thing that hasn’t changed is that people still have their favorite restaurants. At first, I had this notion that my favorite Italian restaurant would be everyone else’s favorite too. It doesn’t work that way. There are always those local favorites, figure out what they are, and lock on to them.
Ok, please tell us about this new digital restaurant delivery resource
We’re calling it Phil’s Field Notes, a monthly newsletter with a mix of topics to help RDS’s scale and grow their businesses. It’s mostly about business, but with a little personal wellness mixed in. It’s important to take care of yourself while you’re taking care of business.
It’s a newsletter that’s as much letter as news. That means I’ll be sharing my perspective along with some links about what’s happening in the field and what it means for the busy RDS owner. Here are the categories we’ll kick it off with:
- Industry news
It’s important to stay informed during this volatile time in the restaurant industry. The reality is that for many restaurant owners, figuring out the delivery side of the business is crucial to survival. As an RDS, you have an opportunity not just to deliver food, but also deliver some much-needed hope.
Having built a successful RDS, and opened a couple of restaurants, I’ve experienced both sides of the industry. This is a unique opportunity for me to share what I’ve learned and to help our readers make sense of what’s happening.
How about a preview of the first issue?
I’m going to share an additional revenue resource that I discovered almost by accident when I was running DASHED. It falls under the topic of innovation and provides an example of why it’s important to be open-minded about what’s possible. It also highlights the service obsession mindset I mentioned earlier.
We want this newsletter to be a relevant resource, so we’ll be hitting up our readers for suggestions along the way.
Thanks, Phil! We’re looking forward to sharing our first issue with the
DataDreamers community this month!