Expanding Your Startup in New Cities

by Wayne Webb, Director of Operations at Foodee 1 year ago

Guest post by Wayne Webb, Director of Operations at Foodee

Expanding your startup is not as easy as “open-round, close round, pick city, hire staff, set launch date, and get press,” although it can seem that way.

For Foodee’s most recent expansion, we’re adding three cities, launching in Austin, Denver and Philadelphia by the middle of August. We knew Toronto would be our second city, but we did not know what our third, fourth, or fifth cities would be.

Why did we not know? At Foodee, finding the right City Manager is as important and conscientious a decision as where to launch. We truly believe that by finding the right person, we will thrive in that market.

To ensure they are set up for success, we have flown all three new City Managers to our HQ in Vancouver to train with the team, learn the culture, and take home the Foodee spirit. But our business training philosophy is extremely hands-on and we don’t just bring our City Managers to Vancouver and then send them into the market. Both our CEO Ryan Spong and I fly into each city to support the hiring process, the restaurant on-boarding, and the launch of a new market.

Our goal is to ensure that every member of the new team knows what Foodee is about. This is how we create a company full of passionate and innovative leaders. We know this is the key, but only after interviewing hundreds of people, and exploring a dozen different theories on what will create success in a new city. That’s the hard work that few people see.

Cultivating culture while simultaneously training logistics is challenging work that requires thorough planning and time, but it is also incredibly exciting. Nothing validates your model more than having thousands of applications come in for a handful of roles, or on-boarding a restaurant enthusiastic about partnering with us.

If scaling up was easy, you’d hear about lots of Canadian startups crossing into the United States, but there is a reason you don’t. In expanding into the U.S., we’ve needed to source ways to effectively communicate information and transfer culture across timezones and borders, so we turned to Perch.co and implemented a digital water cooler in all our offices. We have sourced temporary desk space using PivotDesk in Denver and have used Benjamin’s Desk for longer durations in Philly.

While expanding into Toronto (where we work from HIGHLINE’s office) has been a success, there is still so much to learn as we scale up quickly. We have a 137-item checklist for each new city, up from the 93 items that were on the original Toronto checklist. We included the things we did right the first time as well as many iterative improvements.

Foodee is on track to launch our next three cities, and we expect a wonderful response in Austin, Denver and Philadelphia. We know it will not come easy, but at Foodee our mantra is that nothing worth doing ever is.

Foodee Wayne quote