After investing in Instacart, I started hearing about many other food-related startups. I will admit that I wasn’t interested in learning more about this category, and even when I first came across DoorDash (as they were starting to raise their seed round), I used the service (and was very happy with it), but didn’t think it would be a suitable investment for me. I kind of dismissed it.
But, that was quite short-sighted of me. There was something going on that I didn’t understand on the surface, and because I didn’t stop to think about just how they were doing this, I let my biases take over the rational part of my brain. Luckily, one of the company’s seed investors is a friend, and we hadn’t caught up in a while — about 9 months earlier, I had a kid, and then he had his second kid. During that conversation, he mentioned that there was some room for individuals in DoorDash (which he invested in), and that I should meet the team..
I met with Evan and Tony, two of DoorDash’s founders (the other two founders are Stanley Tang and Andy Fang), and told them what I’ve already written in this post. They then shared more about the genesis of the business, and how they set it up all the processes and operations. It was very impressive, and I felt like an idiot for not using my imagination earlier. The imaginative piece I was missing was how DoorDash was building three different types of software products (for delivery people, for consumers, and for the restaurants), and then tying them all to their own custom back-end systems. Or, I didn’t think about how they could actually use data to estimate demand and help restaurants get more business. I slept on it, and then asked for permission to invest. They said yes.
Since then, DoorDash has been growing like a weed from its Palo Alto HQ, expanding in a more southwardly direction and operating on all cylinders to keep up with demand. The team has definitely figured out an operational model which works well for lunches and dinners — and now the even harder work awaits about how and where the company will expand its model. Tony, Evan, Stanley, and Andy most certainly have the potential the guide the company to a huge outcome, and I’m lucky to get a little seat to watch it unfold.
Some other interesting notes about this deal. One of the lead seed investors who broached the idea of me investing did not have to invite me. As venture capital resources increase, it triggers competition and more pressure for firms to take as much as they can in certain rounds. In this case, the investor and founders kept a small piece open for someone like me. That is an opportunity and responsibility that I do not take for granted.