These are my notes from “A Conversation with Ooshma Garg” moderated by Adora Cheung. An entry of my Startup School series where I follow the curriculum in Y-Combinator’s Startup School
Adora is one of the partners at YC. These are notes on what I thought were the more interesting parts of her interview with Ooshma Garg, the CEO and founder of Gobble.
Gobble’s is on it’s 4th iteration of it’s original idea of a marketplace for personal chefs. Here are the iterations:
1. Looked for moms and dads to cook - “Peer to peer lasagna”
- Everyone loved the food, because it was authentic small batch home cooked by real people.
- It wasn’t scale-able. When we asked these same moms and dads to make 200 instead of 20 lasagna’s, it wasn’t fun for them anymore, they didn’t want to do that.
- We were supply constrained by amount of product we could get for each SKU
2. Catering - “Home cooked food for office”
- This was a catering business. I didn’t want to do it, to me it was easy.
- But investors wanted us to start making money
- When we pitched, everyone asked us about our catering because that was making 70% of our revenue.
- But I didn’t want to be a catering business.
3. Personalized meals - Meals personalized exactly to your tastes
- Wo we winded down our very successful catering business, which was a very unpopular and scary decision
- We got thousands of picky eaters, vegans that didn’t like lettuce or whatever
- We said no matter what, we can feed you
4. Meal prep kits - 15 min 1 pan cooking
We didn’t pivot, we were still trying to solve the same problem of giving people home cooked food.
1. You can’t just throw money into facebook ads. But you also can’t just talk to 10 individual people, that’s too unscaleable. We used promo codes specific to each location we would drop our flyers. We found one place that was much more successful than all the rest 2. I spoke to many meet ups, mom groups, and each group had a different offer code so I knew which one was working
This one person didn’t like my idea, who am I. blue ocean strategy - use this as my framework
Product Market Fit is the center of the venn diagram of ability to grow on one side, and high retention on the other side.
I made initial sales without a website. I proved the concept with an MVP. I designed sales packages in photoshop, and took a semester off to try to make a sale. I didn’t get a sale that semester out of 80 or so meetings. Three weeks in I got a check in the mail for $10k from a law firm.
How did you keep going over the 7-8 years, beyond the mission?
Mission is a big part. but regards to grit and determination. Most overnight successes are 8 years. There are a few exceptions of 1-3 year companies that media celebrates disporpotionately.
When should you quite?
The only reasons I have every quite:
- What I was doing didn’t have enough impact
- Fulfillment, meaning, purpose
I may need to quite if things are moving too fast, and I can’t evolve fast enough. e.g. how netflix evolved to survive. There were other similar titans that failed to evolve and died. That may be a hard look in the mirror moment. I may need to quite in that instance.
Are there decisions you made in the early days that were critical to your success?
we hired our executive chef to make consistent, good, safe food. What we gained though, was the ability to innovate in food. Innovate is getting diverse people together, diverse perspective. It’s hard to create something new with 10 homogenous engineers in a room. We had experts in different fields on the edge of their technologies and we created these new innovations in food prep work, food packaging, very non trivial problems. You need different experts to gain these little insights and create the tech that takes advantage. We didn’t have that room for that creativity when our suppliers were just contractor chefs.
Pricing strategy for gobble, how did it evolve?
Pricing is a big part of PMF. if you’re a very scrappy company, The best pricing tool is email. Email different clusters of people, 20 people each, “hey here is our beta wine feature”, or “here is our beta x feature”. Each cluster gets different prices. Or even send each person 3 different plan choices. And then choose whichever plan will make the most money.
How to work with people, asking questions, without feeling like pestering them.
Only ask people about things that are in there wheel house. Like. I know a little about enterprise sales, but I’m not an expert. So I would feel bad if I can’t help with. Have these three things
- what I did since last time
- what I’m working on now
- what’s my next biggest challenge
So they can see their advice coming around and helping. Don’t ask broad questions. Ask specific questions.
Practice your pitch with friends. anyone you can.
- Full video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tA5J79on7Vg
- Ooshma at Startup School 2016 - https://blog.ycombinator.com/ooshma-garg-at-startup-school/
- Ooshma’s Hacker News Q&A - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12648227