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Building a Fast-Growth Marketplace: Stefania Mallett, CEO of EZCater (Part 7)

Posted on Wednesday, Jun 14th 2017

Sramana Mitra: Any other strategic moves that you made in building the company that are worth going over?

Stefania Mallett: We made the choice from the start to deliberately build a culture of insane helpfulness. I can’t say that we use that phrase. We didn’t articulate that into those two words. We focused on providing fantastic customer service to both sides of our marketplace. We’ve always taken both sides of our marketplaces equally seriously.

We feel that if you are a company that is extremely easy to do business with without being total pushovers, then you create no friction for yourself. We think that to be extremely easy to do business with is a useful tactic. We work hard to not create work for any of our customers or caterers. We work hard to remove hurdles or burdens for either side. We work hard to be really nice. It’s become a true differentiator and we chose that from the start. That was a strategic choice.

Corollary to that is excellence in everything we do. Our website is very well built. The user experience is very easy. We think that if there’s no friction introduced, you do things well. Excellence is a corollary of insane helpfulness which is a critical differentiator. A second corollary is you can’t deliver excellence unless you create a culture where the employees feel as well supported as is humanly possible.

If I am emotionally starved, I don’t have anything to give anyone else. If I’m emotionally nourished, then I can be outgoingly helpful. From the start, we treat our own people with the same decency and same excellence as we do to anyone outside. I’m on this experiment. We have 275 employees at the moment here in our Boston office. People say, “How can you keep this wonderful culture as you get bigger?”

I think we’ve done the right job of hiring people who value and care about our culture. We’ve been able to model it in such a way that each one is a steward of the culture to the point that the bigger we get, the safer our culture is. We figured out how to ensure that each person picks up their responsibility in maintaining the culture.

Sramana Mitra: Is everybody in the same office?

Stefania Mallett: The short answer is yes. We have many people who work form home. We just launched the 24/7 part of our service.

Sramana Mitra: Interesting. If you net it out, what are the metrics that you would be okay with sharing? On each side of the marketplace, how many users?

Stefania Mallett: We’ve hit 20 million people served. We also have north of 51,000 caterers and restaurants to whom we can send your order. We have 931,000 ratings and reviews that rate and review the restaurant’s catering performance. Our content has to do with a catering experience. We have left a million dollars of revenue in the dust quite a long time ago and it’s quite far behind us. We have grown quite a lot from there. 2016 was 2.4 times as big as 2015. 2015 was similar. This year we’re expecting to grow around 2.3 times. We’re targeting a billion dollars of GMV by 2019.

Sramana Mitra: What is the total amount of funding that you have raised?

Stefania Mallett: We have raised just under $70 million.

Sramana Mitra: That’s a lot of money.

Stefania Mallett: I know. I just came out of a board meeting that ended about an hour ago. We have very supportive investors who give us a lot of insights.

Sramana Mitra: Who are your key investors?

Stefania Mallett: Insight Venture Partners out of New York city invested in us in spring of 2015 for the first time. They’ve invested twice since then. The second big investor joined us in December of 2016. That’s Iconic Capital out of California. Insight was gracious in allowing us to bring in a second big player. Insight allowed us to get more diversity in the portfolio. We thought it was a good to have an East Coast and West Coast perspective on the table.

Sramana Mitra: Terrific story. Thank you for your time.

This segment is part 7 in the series : Building a Fast-Growth Marketplace: Stefania Mallett, CEO of EZCater
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