Operators Ep 11 Transcript
TRANSCRIPT Andrew Munday (ex-DoorDash)
Delian: Hi, everyone. My name is Delian and I'm a principal at Founders Fund, a venture capital firm based in San Francisco. This is Operators, where I interview non-VC, non-CEO, non-founder operators that make the startup world go round.
Today I'm interviewing Andrew Munday, former director of operations and on the founding team of DoorDash. He has also started and ran operations at several startups, including Open, Future [Fit 00:00:32], and currently at Local Food Group, which he co-founded. I hope you enjoy the show.
Cool. Andrew, thanks so much for, coming on today for the podcast. Excited to have you.
Andrew Munday: [inaudible 00:00:49] to be here.
Delian: So maybe we can rewind all the way to the beginning of your ops career, i.e, a pi- pizza delivery driver, for which I imagine was like in high school or college or something like that.
Andrew Munday: Yeah.
Delian: What was that experience like, and is that what, I don't know, ultimately got you into the world of operations?
Andrew Munday: Yeah, it probably did. It was like my first job. I think I was four... I think I started at 15 washing dishes, and then once I could drive, I started delivering. I think it was like the first time I really understood like hard work and that hard work can actually get you to the top. Yeah, there's not a lot of like strategy and, delivering four pizzas at a time, it's just like driving really fast, that's when you should, and try to be friendly.
Delian: And from there, it seems like your first couple of roles were more project management, account management, that type of stuff. Like how did you decide to dive into that world, initially, and what attracted you to it?
Andrew Munday: So I, my background, like when I left college, I didn't go to a good college or a place that was well-known, and so it wasn't like I had a career fair where Bain and McKinsey were there like begging me to join their consulting companies and get paid, which, at that time was like a fortune, like 60, 70K, was like crazy. So I had two offers, one was for 32K, one was for 38K. I had done an internship in advertising. I thought advertising fit me a little better and that it seemed like a little more fun and less structured, and then pretty quickly realized like, people don't really like ads, and it's pretty slow moving. And I just picked the job that had, that paid 38K instead of 32.
So there wasn't a lot of thought behind that. And then pretty quickly, like a couple years in, I realized it looks like a VP and was like that, I don't admire that person and what they do, and that's not what the track I want. And so just being in the Bay Area, you hear about startups and autonomy and all this stuff and, I knew that was what I had to do. That was how I got into ops. And then actually the first startup job was in account management, because that was where I had skills. It wasn't what I wanted to do, but it was like they'll probably hire me to do this thing that they need and then from there, maybe I can do something else.
Delian: And so in 2013, for the first time, you got into operations, it sounds originally this company called Deliv, and then very shortly after that, DoorDash. How did you end up making that transition, and how did you find out about both companies, and then why did you leave Deliv to head over to DoorDash?
Andrew Munday: Yeah. I was at this company, Luminate, which died, basically six months in, we had a huge riff, I'll never forget. Everyone was getting called into conference rooms and people were coming out crying. And I'm pretty like a calm person so I just, I'm going to do my work until someone tells me otherwise. I get fired, laid off, whatever you want to call it. After six months, I got a sweet deal where they let me work for another month, and they gave me a month severance, and they let me keep my computer. I lined up the job at Deliv, so that my last day with Luminate was like a Friday and first day at Deliv was like a Monday. I was getting double paid, which was like, totally sweet.
And basically, someone at Luminate knew someone at Deliv and it was like a four person company at that time. And, I was really excited about the early stage and was just super pumped about it. And, Deliv was interesting. We started out delivering blood because that was where there was demand. We would deliver from like the Red Cross, someone would come into a hospital with some crazy accident and they'd need blood, and I guess hospitals don't always store all the blood they need. We had these crazy SLA's, it was like 30 minute deliveries, And so manually, I would have to watch it. We'd only do six or seven a day, but I would watch literally this, dispatch for 12 hours. And, and I'd call the driver and get it moving.
And so that was pretty great. And then Deliv was really focused on parcels, and I thought that was easier because it's not perishable, but it's not like where all the demand is. That, between that and then culturally, it was just like a huge miss. I decided I wanted to leave, and then one of my good friends was at GSP with Tony, and said that they were starting this delivery company.
And at that time I had used, what back then was Palo Alto Delivery, for a LYFE Kitchen in Palo Alto, and as a healthy person, I thought, I could get dinner delivered from LYFE Kitchen, which before it was just pizza or Chinese food, and when you're doing dispatch 12 hours a day, you need food. I thought it was great, and then Tony was "Yeah, this isn't like a healthy food delivery company," and I was like, "All right, yeah, whatever. But that's what I'm into."
And so I basically begged them to let me join. I did a number of things, this was pre YC, when we first started talking, and they got into YC, and, I just really liked the vibe, they were working on a house, Tony's wife was like living in the house with them, and it was just totally like this savage like all for one environment, where I'm interviewing at 8:00 or 9:00 PM, because that's when they're free, and, the house is bumping and there's just so much energy that I'm like, "I got to be a part of this."
I found a shirt manufacturer that was way cheaper than the search for the drivers. I wrote like a 30, 60, 90 day plan, which is hilarious to read right now, because one of the things was, get a Mexican restaurant. I was like, "If you guys had Mexican food, you would crush, And Tony was like, "Yeah, that's a good idea." and then I just wrote a, probably like a two page, just all out, "You got to hire me," "We got to do this." And I remember getting nervous, because at one point, they posted an ops job on their website, so I was like, "Wow. I convinced them they need this role but they don't want me to do it," and then, yeah, eventually it worked out, and I joined.
Delian: And so you've described, at least on like your LinkedIn is, the deal of a lifetime. What were those early days like, and, why do you call it the deal of a lifetime?
Andrew Munday: It was. It was, it's even hard to put into words. It's like we had this team that was such a unit, so all for one, everyone had each other's back, I remember too much delivery demand, and I'd call Tony, and he was actually really good about... He worked nonstop, but Friday nights, he would like have date night with his wife, which, was probably something I should have done.
But, And, I'd call him and be like, "Dude, you gotta come down and deliver," and he'd be like, "I'm on my way." and he'd tell me he's in like Burlingame, and it's like he was in the city. He told me he's closer than he was because he wanted more deliveries. And that was just like the team atmosphere of just totally a family, and then tons of autonomy. Like I really got to realize my potential because he gave me so much rope, I could give you a million examples of, I remember early on I, one thing I did is I got an Obama impersonator because everyone was really stressed and I thought it would be funny to just bring an impersonator in. And so I hired this Obama impersonator that was really crappy, and he came to the office and gave a speech for 10 minutes, and then left, and I just thought, it'd be a fun thing to do. And, it wasn't like Tony was like, `, what's up are you doing? What's wrong with you?" He just let me do my thing.
Another thing was that we had this envelope called the [Benjalope 00:08:46]. It was an [enjelope 00:08:47]... Or not an envelope, it was an envelope full of $100 bills, Benjamins, and I would give the driver bonuses for referrals and stuff in cash, then we'd make them come to the office and give them a hug and all that kind of stuff. And, I would, I don't know how the bank would let me do this, but I'd go to the bank and just take out like five grand in cash. And it's not even like I was on the like bank account, I'd just say "Yeah, DoorDash."
And that kind of stuff where he just let me do it and like we created a lot of magic from that. And so that and like tons of fun. You work super hard, there are definitely moments of "I don't think I can keep this pace up, but I've no other choice because there's all these support requests coming in." And so I would think, "How am I going to get out of this?" And then I would just quickly go back to work and think, ``I just got to get back to work."
And it was just totally fun, right? To be able to learn all this stuff, be around all these amazing people, get a salary, and then have equity where like you could get rich down the road, and like I would have done it for free 100%. And I remember telling so many candidates like I would work here for free. Like they pay for my food, I'm learning, I'd never been more happy, And so it was any reason someone wants to do early stage, like I got it all, it's just crazy.
Delian: And, I feel like in comparison, let's say, to some of the prior roles that you had, DoorDash was, on the extreme upper end of like hyper growth, literally, like from day one. Were there times where like you maybe had to shift your mindset, let's say, or you've previously done, let's say, ops, or account management, or sales, or the way that you interacted with people, and then you realized that it just didn't work in this type of hyper growth environment, like really broke down and shift your mindset for that? Do you have any examples of that?
Andrew Munday: Yeah. I think you're making incremental changes, right? You're creating solutions that work for six months. That's like the timeframe, for drivers, it's like early on, you would have a driver shadow like a new driver, and then you'd pay... That was the best driver, so they're already making 25 an hour, so you pay him like 30 an hour, And then it's "Man, it takes us, it cost us like $200 to bring on a new driver." That's not good, But we took that hit because retention was so high. Driver retention, early days was literally like 95% because they were in and out of our office the whole time, they knew me, they, we had the Benjalope. It's just all this unscalable stuff.
But we did all these small things where Tony says "How are you going to onboard 100 drivers in a week?" And it's like I'm doing 30 a week, and that's working seven days a week, maybe doing an orientation on Sunday night, because I know I can get two more drivers, and yeah it's only two, but two more. And so Tony was really good about pushing on strategy. I think I was really tactical.
And when you're in that kind of a fight, it's hard to pick your head up, and that was like a big thing that I think I learned from him, among many was, I always remember him saying "You're missing the forest from the trees," because someone would be like, "What do you do?" And I would just start talking about things like support, and orientations. And then it's "No, what do you do? What's the big picture of what you do?"
It's a tough balance, because I feel like after you go through a DoorDash, you're super aware of what scale looks like and all that, and you probably get away from the unscalable things that are like crazy important. So i- it's in my nature though to do super unscalable scrappy things, so I'm probably lucky in that respect, but, [crosstalk 00:12:34].
Delian: I feel like one of the things that like startup founders always struggle with, especially in this like scenario where, let's say you're onboarding 30 drivers a week, in order to get to 100, I feel like you do have to have to pick up your head, and sometimes that actually, picking up your head actually makes you go down to 15 drivers a week so that then you can invest in the things that allow you to go to 100 drivers.
Can you talk about what that process was like what allowed you let's say, in that early day to go from 30, to let's say maybe 100, but all the way to 300? What were some of the processes that had to change? How is it different than obviously, in the early days it was just Andrew working seven days a week, 12 hours every day, versus how did it work when it was like, let's say 300 drivers a week?
Andrew Munday: I think it was two things. One, we didn't have product managers for a while, like maybe series A, Series B. So like having ops people who can articulate problems, and the pitfall of an ops person with engineers is like being very feature driven, so people that can actually explain... Because with engineers, it's like they want to, they don't want to just build buttons, right? They want to know that what they're building is meaningful. If you can actually explain why this is good for the business, then you can have things built that you need. And so we had ops people that were like, pretty good at that, and we were all really tight.
The other thing is hiring. I remember we hired two ops managers. So Ken Wong and Andrew Ladd, and they took over orientations. And I remember thinking, "I'm still going to do a couple of weeks because I need to stay close to it and that's what I do," but I ended up just not having time to do it. And so when you hire, you have a new person on the problem. And so they look at it like, "Munday, why do you have this crappy onboarding process? Obviously, we could get 60 people who just do these small things?" And I'm like, "Okay, yeah, you should do that." I think hiring and then just, getting your leverage is the way to do it.
And then you need to be comfortable with early drivers, we were doing like multiple hour long interviews like per driver, And so you got to be comfortable that you are trying to scale and it can work if you do, do it a little differently, And I think that only happens just because I wasn't doing it. Like these other two ops managers were doing it, so they don't know how comfortable I was with hour long interviews.
Delian: And can you just talk about, it sounds maybe, somewhat purposeful or a key decision point was that, the sort of, product roadmap was primarily just done with engineers and ops, that there wasn't this intermediate like product manager. Can you talk about, was that intentional or do you think that was what sort of contributed to the success of DoorDash in the early days? And then as a sort of part to that question is, as you were interviewing, let's say, these potential ops managers, were you looking for, let's say, that ability to not just do tactics but actually being able to like extrapolate and explain to engineers, "Here are the underlying problems, here's how this work"? And like, how did you assess that, let's say, in those interviews?
Andrew Munday: Yeah. Early on, we, I remember us, I even remember Stanley being like, "We'll never have product managers," And like we didn't even really know what we were saying, because that's crazy. And obviously, there's many product managers there now. It was definitely a strategy. We thought we can move way faster if we don't have PMs, And, choosing what to build is not super hard.
I'm manually paying... I remember I was manually paying drivers. We had this spreadsheet, it was so shitty. It was like this: find formula, but it was by first name. Once we had two drivers that are both Katie, they like to get double paid, And I was like, "Who set this up?" And so I like to fix that. But then remember I told our early engineer Alvin, I was like, "Hey, basically, every week, I'm up till 3:00 AM on Sunday night like manually paying people through SVB Bill Pay, and it just sucks, And he's "Oh, I could fix that in like today," early on, product roadmap, it's like pretty simple. We don't have an Android app for drivers, like we need that. You don't need it super early on. Obviously, now DoorDash, it's like consumers, merchants, stashers, like you totally need it in many different dimensions.
and then on the ops interviewing, yeah, we definitely hired for... We had this list of eight traits that we look for, and then across a four point rating system, the normal, strong, no, strong, yes. And part of it was like things 10X, that kind of stuff. And so we always looked for that.
Delian: You're saying the greatest arbitrage in, whatever it was, 2012, would have been to be named Katie, and just get a bunch of my friends named Katie on DoorDash Delivery?
Andrew Munday: You could write a book on all the fraud that we've experienced through having poor systems.
Delian: [laughs]. Yeah, as you said, it seems like that happens with these types of businesses. So you talked a little bit about, obviously, there's, one, one thing that I feel like a lot of people don't appreciate about the complexity of something like DoorDash is it's like a three sided marketplace. Like you actually have the consumer demand, you have the supply of the actual drivers, and you have the restaurants, you're constantly like managing all three of those. It sounds like you, primarily focused on the supply of the actual drivers, but I'm curious, how did you guys, in the early days, both convince the restaurants to get on board and then actually get consumer demand, and what was most effective there?
Andrew Munday: Yeah. It was hard, especially when we launched, because you'd go to a city and you would start trying to sell merchants, and you'd not live for a month, and they'd say, "Come back like when you're alive." But that was the trick. You need to get consumers early on. You have these dashers that you're probably going to pay, just to be idle, and so you need all these things to happen at once. It basically means the first couple months are rough, but, we set these goals in six months, the market breaks even. Here's the kind of volume you need to get. So we just did it all at once.
But, a big thing for us is we bet on selection, right? We were going to open a city with 300 restaurants. If you'd look at a Caviar and they have cities of maybe launching with 1020 restaurants, right? And, we just bet that consumers cared about selection, And that was like the thing against Grubhub too, was just Grubhub only has, delivering from restaurants that deliver- that already delivered. I think it's changed now, but back then, that was only 15% of restaurants. And there's another 85% that we like unlocked. It's basically like way harder, but it's way bigger.
Delian: And speaking of the various competitors, I feel like DoorDash has faced competition. Obviously, since day one, Grubhub was already a pretty large incumbent before you guys even came to market, Caviar has come online since then, and many others have as well. But it seems even, and this has been even more clear during COVID, but over the past like three or four years, DoorDash has been just consistently gaining market share and has really been like the out performer, across a variety of dimensions. Obviously, market share, or the economics, growth rate, it seems like on everything, they're firing on all dimensions.
What do you think? Was there something that you felt like was culturally distinct or unique at DoorDash early on that sort of set it forward? I, the success, I believe in that Bezos quote of "Don't congratulate me on the current quarter, that was already baked three years ago." what do you think what did DoorDash bake in the early days that has allowed it to succeed at this, at this later stage?
Andrew Munday: Yeah. Tony's like that too, It's like funding is a result of the work we did like last year, all those kinds of things. I think Tony is a perfect CEO for this business, right? He is like maniacal about measuring, even early days, where measuring unit economics, maybe we only made five cents a delivery, but you play the long game, and you're like, "If that goes up 10 cents every quarter, like this can be pretty good."
And he was like the p- he's a perfect leader for that company, you're in like a weekly business review and he's asking crazy questions like, "What's driver retention in, Minneapolis, like four months ago, where we have 20 markets live?" And someone's "I don't know." And he's "If you want to know that or if you want to be at this company, that's what you need to know." I've seen him ask someone the same question like four or five times in a row, and I'm like, "This is uncomfortable." but those meetings were like the Holy Grail. I would study the night before, I would study the morning of, like I had to know my numbers and I had to have a plan, because it was going to get just really uncomfortable.
So I think this kind of business where it's like a game of inches, having a leader like that where he's just nuts about it, is a big thing. And then just we never wavered from our strategy, which was like price, selection and reliability. And so we were big on, running our own race. I think Postmates was more like a brand type company, and that's why they've done so well in L.A, I think that resonated well there, but it seems like their leader is not like the crazy numbers person.
And then Caviar was the high end like food thing, so like that wasn't going to hit the masses. And then, Eats is probably the most similar to us, but, when they started, remember, they did the whole like 15 minute deliveries where they had 50 meals in someone's trunk and they only had three options, and then they realized like that wasn't right. So I think Eats operates the most similar but I just think we have... I'm biased because I like to hire all these people, but we have better executioners and it's a more, probably high performing and intense environment.
Delian: Speaking of the people that you brought on and hired, it sounds like you obviously really enjoy the process of hiring, assessing the roles, like assessing early performance. Give a framework that you think through in particular to like ops, and, how has that shifted maybe over the course of the stage of the company? And obviously, since then, you've worked at a variety of different companies, that have been in different industries, how did it both shift by industry, let's say, by stage of company, like, how do you think through, and then even just like how do you think through the assessing of, which roles are the most, critical in the short term, you need to be filling?
Andrew Munday: Yeah. I'd say one thing that's very good for me and I hope for others. I think I have a really good sense in general, and that's a great competitive advantage for me. But the process is pretty structured, where we would do a culture interview, a case interview, and then they would take some homework. And we had a panel that was basically right a lot, our close rate was super high in ops. It was like 90, 95%. And our profile helps. It's a YC company, Sequoia backed, like Stanford founders, I feel like once we had Sequoia invested, we had a lot of inbound that was pretty good.
But it was pretty simple. We wanted to see someone intrinsically motivated. That's like the big one because it makes your life so much easier. And then we ended up hiring a lot... This is like what happens a lot, but a lot of people that want to start companies, and most of them have, and so if you can acquire all these like kind of founders, then it's, it works out really well. And then we were pretty strict, like if there's not a strong yes, at least one strong, yes, then, we don't hire.
I think people that are inexperienced with hiring, they never want to put their name on something. They don't want to be strong, yes, and I did it like a million times. And I was going to be the one that had to fire him anyway, so it was like, it's totally full circle for me. But I think that...
And then we created this program called Team Red. I actually wanted it to be called Team Brita because of the Brita filter, but our head of recruiting was like not into it. It was Team Red, which is boring. And that was like the Amazon bar raiser thing where we had one person who had a track record of hiring really good people, and had fired at least one person, so they understand what it means to miss. We had them on every panel and they had, I think they had to be at least a yes or a strong yes on the hire, and that, that went really well.
Delian: And then how do you think about the sort of assessing the early performance stuff? Like it sounds one of your, let's say things that you feel like you differentiate on is, making that call, sooner rather than later, which I feel like is something that a lot of time founders struggle with, is just like letting a mediocre hire, stick around for a year plus, infect the culture, bring people down, and slow productivity rather than just like making the tough call in the first quarter.
Andrew Munday: Yeah. We were very good at firing, and that's broad. What that means is, we did it quickly, we did it really in a human way. I think most people you talk to who've been fired would say that, they felt like we were respectful and did a good job at that, which I think is super important. The fastest was we fired someone three days before, we did it in a week. Those are really obvious, those quick ones, it's this is a disaster. Like in two days, this is just such a disaster, culturally, and, I can remember an early person who, we have support tickets, like outrageous through this queue, right? Just hundreds, and I remember I was like walking by and this person, he was like, "Hey, look at this." And he tapped on his phone and it turned on his computer, and I knew like we had to let him go because it was just like, there's so many support tickets, what are you doing? So just like a lack of focus for that individual.
But the early ones are easy, and then I think, it is usually pretty obvious, I think, early stage to see if someone is effective because there's only one person responsible for one thing. It's one person on boards in Palo Alto, right? And it's is that number going up or down? That stuff's pretty easy. I think engineering is probably a lot harder to understand, but ops was generally pretty simple. And, we were good at setting goals. It's "This is your goal this week, this is your goal this month," and it was like super quantitative.
Delian: That makes sense. I know and, I feel both in this performance assessment, but I've also heard you across so many times that we've interacted, always talk about like your, strong belief in, work ethic and putting in the hours, which I feel like, especially in the 2020 woke, friendly, soft, Silicon Valley version of the world is, is not as kosher to say. But I guess yeah, can you, I feel like, I'd love to hear your work ethic philosophy and how you also assess that in the people that you potentially want to close on, companies with, work with, partner with, and how you get people aligned on that.
Andrew Munday: I have no choice, and DoorDash was the same, like DoorDash had no choice. That's just how much work there is. And, and I think people would think, oh, you just work hard to work hard. Let's look at what that is. It means that at 10:00 PM... This is great. At 10:00 PM at DoorDash we had this thing called the follow up log, which meant we couldn't actually process refunds or anything in real time because we had so many people calling us. If someone called and you're going to give them a refund, the phone is still ringing, so we thought it's better to talk to the other person. We had this whole spreadsheet called a follow up blog, it'd be like, "Refund to Delian," "Give this thing to Matt."
And so we started the... And so we could have done that the next day, right? We could do that. But what hard work means is that we're going to do it tonight and we're going to be up like pretty late. And so I feel like the anti hard work people don't actually see like what it produces, and so that was like... We didn't do it so we could post on social media and say that we like to work hard, we did it because we love our customers and that's why we want to do it. And for me, like I didn't go to a good school. I joined DoorDash and it was like four Stanford founders. I thought "I'm lucky to be on this team." And for me to have any kind of success, like I have to work hard, and I think most of life and success is around adherence, it's if you can adhere to something that's hard. Most people just don't want to do it, which is really totally great for me. So I think, yeah.
I do think today people want market rate cash, and they want big equity, and then they want a seed stage, and some founders probably give into it. I talked to someone the other day who was like, "I really want to be somewhere pre product market fit." And that's like a pretty crazy thing to say, if you've gone from no product market to product market, like it's the most painful time, it's just so terrible.
But then also, the harder something is, if you get through it, the more joyful it is, right? It's like that book, The Upside of Stress, it's like the best things in life come from crazy stress, so you experience extreme joy. So I think it's just like a weird narrative where hard work is sometimes looked down upon.
I think it's the people who can't do it's like people who hate on let's say like Tom Brady or Kobe, like, how could you hate on Tom Brady? He is the model of, perseverance, and he has no talent, and like no skill, and he rose to the top from this dogged approach that's like totally inspiring. And so someone that hates it, I think, maybe is just someone that can't do it themselves and they want to feel better about not reaching greatness.
Delian: You talk about the pain of reaching product market fit, I'd love to, let's say compare and contrast, two startups that I think you've worked out that obviously had product market fit or DoorDash, and I think at this point, I could claim that I think Future is a pretty damn good product market fit, given that I was one of the, early users, and I definitely, us- use the hell out of it, and was pretty damn happy with it.
Can you just talk about what was the process of, going from, let's say, like ideation, to achieving product market fit, and, when did you know? What was the moment when you were like, "Okay, like we've clearly tapped into something. There's for sure lots we've got to improve, but we have like product market fit"? And then do you think that there's like a common framework between the two that you could use to analyze okay, whenever I achieve that "product market fit"?
Andrew Munday: Yeah. I think it's this like the balance of being honest with yourself and intuition, right? Let's say like for Future, let's say you decided the average retention for fitness... I don't even remember the exact number, let's say it's six months, right? And let's say we only had three. How do you know that you have the wrong cohort of people actually using your product versus like they don't actually want this product? You need like the founder's intuition, which we had. Like I remember [Rishi 00:31:53] had this idea. I had used a trap on a coach for many years and I was like, fundamentally, like this totally makes sense. Coaches do improve adherence, right? This makes sense. This will work. It's just my questions were more like probably on the supply side, with trainers, and do we actually need trainers or can we just get people that are really good at motivating? The same thing, like with Uber. Do we need taxi drivers or can we actually just get people to drive cars? And probably, as an ops person, that's just more where my head goes.
For the future, we had, found a trainer online and had them train us, and, we, I don't think we had an app yet. It was like texting, and we just wanted to see fundamentally, are we working on more or does accountability work? And it did. And then we made it a little nicer.
And then the other thing I would say with product market fit is it's nuanced. It's not just do customers come back? But there's the economic component, right? Does economics work for all sides? So like at DoorDash, yeah, early on, consumers really wanted the product, but are drivers going to do the work for the pay that we can afford? Are merchants going to do the work for the commission that we need, right?
I think people sometimes aren't honest about it and there's maybe one component of product market fit that they like put off, especially in like the VC world, where you're, sometimes you don't break even or get profitable cash flow for like a long time. People think, "We'll figure this out later," and, you just need to be really honest about your business, I'm going through that right now, and it's every week we're setting goals of, we're trying to get product market fit, and we're setting goals of numbers that we think would equal that.
Delian: It sounds across some of your interests, you've made it pretty clear that you're a pretty big believer and like pretty data driven decision making. How do you think about in the early days, or it sounds like product market fit sometimes is a little bit more, tenuous or somewhat, more philosophical than purely numbers driven, like how do you use numbers to inform that, and then how do you... At what point do you start to become more analytical and purely economics, based, and how does that shift, as the company grows?
Andrew Munday: There's always numbers. I think it's weak when someone says, "We're too early stage or whatever." It's there's 10 customers, what are they doing? What are they even saying? How simple our economics were like at DoorDash, it was like, order volume, GMV, unit economics, and then there's all this crazy cohort retention and stuff like that we'll get down the road, but it's like fundamentally, we should be able to measure something.
So it's, data is it's just like fact, it's we don't want to go in circles. Can we just get this data and make a decision?
Delian: And so since DoorDash you've gone to, a couple of, a couple different companies, obviously, including Future, which we talked about, and it sounds like now you're starting your own thing or pretty early, onto the team. What sort of, process have you gone through of deciding what to work on since DoorDash, and then what do you feel are the sort of, skill sets or what's your pitch to people when they, want to come work with you, "Here's, what I learned at DoorDash, and here's the, value propositions that I now provide"?
Andrew Munday: Yeah, that's a good question. I was just doing this an hour ago. Yeah, so I've thought at this point, I've had some success and have, like freedom like money, where I can like, I don't need to think about it and I can work on any kind of whatever I want. And so it's pretty daunting to think about like racism, and like homelessness, having gone to high school in the city.
And, I would never leave the city. I like fight versus flight, and I think moving is not the solution. I think I want to stay and fix the place I love. And so it does become overwhelming like, why am I building another tech startup when there's this homeless problem that everyone's talking about, and maybe some people are doing stuff, but I should, this is what I love. Like my grandpa came here from Mexico and landed in North Beach, like this is, this matters to me.
And ultimately, what I decided was, the way change happens in the world is through big organizations, and so if I started at a problem that I'm not well suited to solve, if we don't get product market fit, then it just doesn't even matter, because then we die.
And so it's like aligning my skills with where I can build a really big company so that we can take a stance, right? You can support DoorDash supporters like Black Lives Matter, right? And it's a huge company, and so it's actually like pretty meaningful for them to take that stance, and someone might look at food delivery, and say, that's not inspiring, but, it's inspiring to create this change, and then also you have, thousands of employees that you can like influence in your all hands or whatever.
And so I've shifted to, I want to create the most good in the world and I think the best way to do that is for me to get product market fit and build a really big company, and, just take leverage like, wherever you can get it.
Delian: You've obviously been, in, in the early team at a variety of different companies before starting the current thing that you're working on. What are some mistakes you feel like you made in the past in the early days of the company or maybe cultural things that you no longer agree with that maybe you used to agree with that you're doing, differently this time around, in comparison to the last couple of times?
Andrew Munday: Yeah. I think I've definitely made some, some like work ethic mistakes, I still go as hard as possible. I remember one at DoorDash where I was at a funeral, for a family member, and, there was like a burial after the funeral to put this person in the ground, and I was going to leave because I was going to go do a driver orientation. And, my mom just gave me this look like, "What the fuck?" And I was so in the zone, I just didn't even think about it. And I ended up staying and I was like, "Obviously, like Tony will just do this orientation for me," And I feel like I'm more conscious of what's important and you don't need to make... Like I don't make those crazy trades... Like I sleep eight hours a night, I work out every day, I'm a very healthy person. And, definitely some of DoorDash, I wasn't. We slept in the office a bunch, and, so still probably go harder than most people, but, probably more aware of that stuff.
And then just like all the small things, like better at hiring, better at, all these little things.
Delian: You're obviously in this COO role, which feels like the role that you're probably in for the rest of your career, since it's an area that you really enjoy. I feel like the scope of it can be like a variable, and so maybe in relation to your current company, and also maybe prior roles. What do you think about defining this COO role, what should be within the scope, how do they partner with the CEO or founder? what do you think about that?
Andrew Munday: You need tons of alignment with the CEO, I think And I would say also, it's like a head of ops role, like COO is like a heavy title for a five person company, It's just like that's what you write on like formal documents and stuff like that. Which is funny. If someone wants to be a COO, the easiest way to do it is to start your own company and be like the ops person because you'll just be the COO. So it's like a weak goal. Your goal should be more like owning responsibility or whatever.
But alignment with the CEO, like Tony and I were so aligned on like how to live like personally, right? Like we're both really frugal and borderline cheap. Like his car was like just such a piece of shit, Like you, whenever you get out of it, you're "Hey, make sure you like to lock the lock on your side," shit like that. And I would always lend it out to all the new employees to like do deliveries on the first day. But we were so aligned on just how to live, and I think that's actually pretty important, and then also how to work, humility and all that.
And then as you've said, the CEO role is pretty nebulous. There are some that are more like a CFO, they're like more financially minded. It also depends on the company. I'm more like people oriented, hiring and all that kind of stuff is my strength, and then also like extreme organization, and measuring things, and, and leadership too, like I am going to be the person that stands in front of company and gets excited, and, you know will plan an off site and like stuff like that. And so the strategy piece is definitely, like I just said, something that I learned, but, it's different.
My advice is just get an option, create value. Like at DoorDash, I took so many, like I didn't know anything about hiring or recruiting, ended up owning HR and all that, and I would just reach out to people. I emailed, Laszlo Bock at Google, who was like the legendary HR guy, and I just figured his email is probably Laszlo@google, because there's not two of them, and he just emailed me back, And so I would just ask experts like for help, and they would all reply. And so I ended up owning, insurance, and like legal, and all this stuff. And so it's like just, when you see problems, just take initiative and solve them,
Delian: If somebody were like listening to this podcast and maybe they come from a, maybe outside of tech, or a non traditional background, what do you think is the best track, let's say today? Obviously, maybe you took a different track seven years ago, but in the world of 2020, what do you think are like the types of, companies, stage, roles that they should go for to really start to become a master of, ops, people, hiring for the types of things that you've done? What do you think are the best places to go to, and how do you recommend they should go about doing that?
Andrew Munday: Yeah. I think, I don't think you should find like the best operator and be under them. The way I learned was like from doing. I think sourcing YC companies is good because they're all really small. They... My advantage was I was the best DoorDash could hire, right? I'm sure they would have loved to have someone better than me, but when you're only budgeting 70K for this role, guess what, "I'm here." And so that's your advantage, is that these companies are crazy under-resourced. And, so you can get in.
It's funny when people say they're the first employee somewhere. It just means like you squeaked in because that's when they were the worst at hiring and they had the least amount of money. That's all it means. It doesn't mean, it's not prestigious, It may mean, it might mean you're rich if like a company did well, but it's not prestigious. And find a small company with a team that you like, and you can grow with it because no one knows, right?
At DoorDash, obviously, we all got leveled, eventually, You're going to hire people above us, but, when you have founders that don't know... Like I remember when we needed to hire a general counsel and Tony's "What does that do? How much does it cost?" I'm like, "Dude, all these people are like trying to sue us, I can't litigate," And I tried to explain it. And so when you have that little bit of naivety where it's like you get to run with stuff, because when you...
And this actually happened at Deliv where these people have 30 years of experience, they don't want this young kid running stuff. And that was definitely a big reason I left. I saw people with 20, 30 years experience were getting hired. I'm like, "I have no growth potential here," I feel like you get a younger team, and it's definitely going to be a shit show, because I'm sure you look back at when you ran your company, and it's you just don't know anything. But that's your advantage, as an employee. I'd say just find the earliest stage company you can and try to run loose.
Delian: And how did you make the determination of, I feel like one thing that people don't talk about is, "Yeah, being the first employee just means that you were maybe the cheapest that they could find, not necessarily the best person that they could find." but you obviously got a ton of growth potential, but at some point, the company started growing faster probably than you could grow into and so you started to get leveled.
How did you like, let's say deal with getting leveled and then also at what point did you decide "Hey, since the company has now gotten so large or because I've gotten, this far away from, being as close to Tony as I was in the early days, it no longer makes sense to be here," like, how did you both deal with getting leveled the first time that it happened, and then how did you decide when was right to leave DoorDash?
Andrew Munday: It was super hard. I still, even today, I feel like, so tied to that family, and when I see them fighting, it feels like I should be fighting with them, and I think about it. But I'm on my own journey and I need to be a steward of that. Being leveled is tough. I was, running all sorts of ops groups, and it's you, like someone will tell you there's, you don't know, you don't know, and so it's like really hard to like even address that, because it's like you will show me the bullet points of what I need to do to be COO of this company, and, it's just they can't even explain because they don't even know, right?
And yeah, Tony just came to me and was like, "Yeah, we're going to hire this, or we're going to hire a COO." And obviously, I was super involved and all that. And once I started to interview people, it made sense of yeah, it's like, if you're talking to Keith Rabois, you're just like, "Okay, clearly this person like knows-"
Delian: They got a little more than me [laughs].
Andrew Munday: Yeah. A little respect here. So I got it, and Payne, Christopher Payne who was hired her DoorDash is like totally amazing, he did this thing that was super meaningful to me where, when we didn't have enough people on like chat support for DoorDash, I would email the company and say, "Everyone needs to like work chat support tonight." And, it was going on forever because we kept growing really fast, and people would come to me, recruiters would come to me and be like, "How long are we going to do this?" And I was like, me being me I was like, "Hopefully forever, because that means we're growing at an insane rate," But it's like they signed up to be a recruiter.
And so anyways, it was like a Saturday night, we're in the office doing chat support. And it's crazy, right? You're doing four or five chats at a time, people are like, "Where's my food." And, it was just like six of us and Payne drove down from, I think he lives in Salt Lake somewhere, and I know he's got a family, he's got kids like in high school, and, he knew that was really important to me. And, he did that, and that was like, he was like an expert there. That was the thing that got me to say "I have so much respect for this person, because like I don't know if I would do that, what he did."
And yeah, you just, you learn to deal with it. It is super hard, though. And luckily, Tony and I always stayed close, and so I could get any info I needed or wanted, but it was different because I wasn't in like the founder meeting, which I had been in for three years, And I mostly left because I wanted to start a company. It's just like, when you're in this environment, and you want to see, I just want to push it, "Can I do that?" And that was it. And I felt like the company was in a good spot. We had good leaders in the groups that I was running, and it felt like a good time, and so I ended up heading out.
It's funny. I actually talked to Keith about this when I was leaving, I was like, "How do I leave grace- gracefully?" Because it's like leaving a family. Like how could I tell Tony, how could I leave? Dude, we're in the trenches every day, "And then, what's the right way to do it?" And since like he'd seeing everything, he was just like he was, "Just leave." "You've been there three and a half years." Like for him, that's that's too long maybe, I think talking to other people too and normalizing it, it all worked out.
Delian: Thanks for sharing that. I definitely appreciate you being open about the toughness of being leveled. That's not a, not an easy thing to talk about.
But yeah, super appreciate you coming on the podcast today, Andrew. Great conversation. Thanks so much for taking the time.
Andrew Munday: Yeah, this was great. Thanks, dude.
Delian: Thanks for listening, everyone. If you'd like to support the podcast, please sign up for a paid Substack subscription which we use to pay for transcripts, mics, and other improvements. If you have any comments or feedback on what kinds of questions I should ask, who should come on the show, or anything else, please do let me know. Have a great rest of your day.