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Tony Xu, MBA ’13, Cofounder and CEO, DoorDash

stanford#stanford gsb#stanford graduate school of business#mba
55K views|3 years ago
πŸ’« Short Summary

Tony Xu, co-founder and CEO of DoorDash, shares insights on entrepreneurship, emphasizing learning through experience and adaptability. He discusses his immigrant background, scrappy beginnings, and the value of simplifying problems. DoorDash's operational strategy involves focusing on details and continuously improving processes. The company prioritizes truth-seeking, quality, and input metrics for success. DoorDash empowers local economies, dashers, and small businesses through food delivery services and tools. During the pandemic, DoorDash prioritized community safety and adaptability. The company aims to transform industries with last-mile fulfillment models and digital channels.

✨ Highlights
πŸ“Š Transcript
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Tony Xu shares insights on starting a business focusing on learning through experience.
02:11
Importance of adaptability and continuous learning in navigating the challenges of entrepreneurship.
DoorDash's success was not preconceived at its founding, highlighting the unpredictable nature of entrepreneurship.
Emphasizes the value of hands-on experience over following a set curriculum.
Discusses the challenges of building a business from scratch and the need for adaptability.
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Speaker's experience of moving from China to the United States at a young age.
04:02
Despite challenges and little structure in childhood, learned valuable lessons through trial and error.
Cultural shock from moving to different states, excelled academically and in sports, eventually becoming valedictorian.
Emphasizes the importance of unstructured time in shaping entrepreneurial mindset and acquiring new skills like language and earning income.
✦
Speaker's journey from struggling with studying to founding Doordash.
06:30
Confidence gained from adapting to new environments.
Influence of parents' entrepreneurial spirit on speaker's work ethic.
Reflection on immigrant parents' journey and their impact on business decisions.
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Importance of hard work, saving, and resourcefulness in childhood shaping entrepreneurial ventures.
09:05
Early lessons from saving up for video games led to starting Doordash as an online food delivery service.
Emphasis on seizing opportunities and embracing a mindset of potential gains despite initial setbacks.
✦
Importance of simplifying problems and testing ideas quickly.
10:25
Emphasis on focusing on solving small, manageable issues rather than large endeavors.
Value of learning through practical experience like doing deliveries and working alongside industry professionals.
Engaging in hands-on activities like customer service and logistics to gain valuable insights and develop necessary skills for projects.
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Development of the principle of 'getting to the lowest level of detail' at Doordash.
13:25
The principle was developed through hands-on experience and observation of efficient and inefficient practices among restaurants, drivers, and customers.
Doordash aimed to provide exceptional service and meet customer expectations by focusing on minute details and consistently improving processes.
The approach involved identifying and analyzing about 20 steps in the delivery process, addressing problems through root cause analysis, and prioritizing quality and consistency over initial success.
Emphasis on continuous improvement and attention to detail was crucial in shaping Doordash's operational strategy.
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Importance of Operating at the Lowest Level of Detail in Problem Identification.
15:22
DoorDash encourages employees to write down hypotheses to uncover underlying issues within the company.
Emphasis is placed on seeking disconfirming evidence to challenge biases and ensure accurate problem-solving.
Employees are required to engage in deliveries and customer service to gain firsthand experience and understand customer feedback better.
Hands-on work is valued at DoorDash for its role in problem-solving.
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Importance of improving audit mechanisms and measurement methods for enhancing operations.
17:43
Significance of focusing on inputs to different branches for successful outcomes.
Challenges faced by Doordash and the need for perseverance and continuous improvement.
Despite facing ups and downs, Doordash managed to overcome obstacles and achieve success.
Transforming traditional businesses takes time and effort, with doubters being inevitable along the way.
✦
Prioritizing truth seeking and value in the company's operations.
21:58
The company required capital to expand into multiple markets, some of which were not yet profitable.
Confidence within the company was built through transparency and preparation for any scenario.
Choosing optimism and creating a plan despite external validation was crucial during challenging times.
Demonstrating resilience and a positive mindset instilled confidence in the team to overcome obstacles.
✦
Importance of planning for variance and being prepared for difficult moments in life.
22:45
Emphasizing the significance of choosing optimism and truth-seeking to navigate challenges successfully.
Stressing the need for intellectual honesty and prioritizing inputs over outcomes for building a strong foundation for success.
Discussion on personal growth and learning as a CEO, drawing parallels to market share growth in business.
✦
Emphasizing the importance of improving inputs over outcomes in business.
25:23
Focusing on quality, speed, accuracy, and affordability as key input metrics for success.
Recognizing the relationship between inputs and outcomes, and the need for patience and persistence in achieving desired results.
Adapting leadership style and continuously learning to meet customer needs and evolve over time.
Making continuous tweaks and improvements to create a repeatable system for success.
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Importance of Learning New Skills and Learning from the Best.
27:21
Emphasize on building systems for decision-making as the organization grows.
Importance of mechanisms for speed, quality, and tracking progress for continuous improvement.
Challenge of scaling company culture intentionally and collaboratively with new employees.
✦
DoorDash's goal is to empower local economies through food delivery and support for small businesses.
30:11
They offer a marketplace app for consumer convenience and a platform for businesses to create their own digital channels.
Tools like DoorDash Drive and DoorDash Storefront enable businesses to offer on-demand deliveries and compete in e-commerce.
DoorDash aims to build a full stack service to support businesses beyond just logistics and ordering.
They emphasize their commitment to helping local businesses thrive.
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Doordash empowers dashers to work part-time, choose their hours, and prioritize time over money.
32:36
Dashers collaborate with officials to shape the future of work and receive necessary protections.
The platform helps dashers save for projects and emphasizes the responsibility of supporting their goals.
Changes to the labor system are being made to benefit dashers and create a sustainable work environment.
✦
Prioritizing community safety, supporting merchants, ensuring liquidity, and assisting organizations in need were crucial during the pandemic.
36:02
Emphasis was placed on taking action and focusing on controllable aspects to navigate uncertainty.
The importance of influencing outcomes rather than solely controlling them, as well as the role of luck, was highlighted.
Adapting to unforeseen challenges and making tough decisions were key leadership principles shared.
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Importance of being prepared for unforeseen consequences in the restaurant industry during the pandemic.
38:53
Shut down of restaurants in countries like China and UK impacting takeout and delivery businesses.
Trusting the team and the process is crucial in difficult times like a pandemic.
Building a strong team and empowering them to make decisions beforehand is key for problem-solving.
Reflecting on the value of responding effectively during challenging times in 2020, emphasizing grit, scrappiness, and a growth mindset.
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Cities as Resilient Organizations
40:19
Over 50% of GDP in the US is generated in local communities, showcasing the enduring nature of cities.
Cities have shown resilience through various economic and pandemic cycles.
Consistency across cities will lead to a greater distribution of convenience and job opportunities.
Transition to digital channels is essential for businesses to adapt to changing customer acquisition and service needs.
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Company's evolution from delivering restaurant food to convenience items from stores.
42:51
Emphasis on tackling difficult problems like digitizing physical world for efficiency.
Importance of structured cataloging of products and pricing information.
Challenges of post-pandemic urban logistics, like parking space availability in cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles.
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Speaker's favorite class, food delivery order, and advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.
44:57
The speaker highlights "Aligning Startups in Their Markets" as their favorite class at the GSB.
They enjoy trying new food places for food delivery orders.
Aspiring entrepreneurs are advised to find something they are obsessive about to navigate challenges.
Emphasis is placed on being maniacally focused on a project to overcome obstacles.