My interview with Phil Dumontet was interrupted by a police officer knocking on his window after he pulled over safely to the side of the road. As rare as an interview starting with a police intervention is a company starting with just a CEO and a bicycle. Dashed has grown into the leading restaurant delivery service in the Northeast. Dashed delivers for over 600 top rated restaurants in 6 cities who wouldn’t otherwise offer delivery. The company, founded in 2009 now has over 90 employees and was named to the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing companies in America in 2013 (#119). Their focus on the speed of delivery while being eco-friendly has set them apart from competitors and made Dashed a favorite among users.
Dashed was co-founder Phil Dumontet’s first job and entrepreneurial endeavor. I guess you could say it was love at first bike. The idea for the company stemmed from a conversation he had with his brother and an opportunity in the market after a would-be competitor in the area went out of business. “The opportunity to do something that is relatively simple (food delivery), but do it better and do it faster than anyone else is what really inspired me to start it.”
Phil had just accepted a job offer to work for AT&T and was only weeks away from going to Atlanta for training. Asked if it was a hard decision to leave an attractive job for his own startup, Phil said, “The opportunity seemed like such a clear one to me.” After deciding to start Dashed, the next step was to get out into the streets and start signing on quality restaurants. The quality of the restaurants the company chose to work with was a key component of its growth and success. “I knew that speed would be the #1 driver of my business from the start, but I also knew that if we were delivering for restaurants that people didn’t particularly enjoy or weren’t highly rated, it wouldn’t matter if we were getting the food there faster than anybody else.”
Expanding beyond a one bike operation
Phil started off as the only deliverer – personally bringing each order to a customer’s house. Phil was able to make 10-15 deliveries in an evening shift. “Once we hit our cap as far as what each individual cyclist could do in a shift without delivery time increasing, we would know it’s time to hire another cyclist to join us.”
Five years after starting with a plan to deliver food for quality restaurants, the company is now much more than just a restaurant food delivery service. Dashed now delivers alcohol, convenience items, and holiday related items including pumpkins, Valentine’s Day gifts, Christmas trees, and more. “As we continue to grow, I think there’s opportunity in other spaces.” Phil’s ultimate goal with Dashed is “to be the most respected delivery service in the US.”
Advice for your entrepreneurial ride
While a student at Boston College, Phil honed his relationship building skills, becoming a RA and the editor for the school newspaper. “I learned very early on when I started Dashed that it was a relationship business. It was building relationships with local restaurateurs and national chains.” Taking what he learned at Boston College and applying it to Dashed helped him build vital relationships for the business and build a strong team around him to focus on other aspects of the business. “Learn what you do best, do it exceptionally well and delegate the rest.” To build a strong network, going out of your own personal comfort zone is often a necessity. Phil recommends to join a local council or community organization that is related to your business, and to join one that is unrelated. “It’s very easy to get caught up in your own business and working in your business instead of on your business.”
Working on his business with a focus on growth has worked well for Phil, going from a single deliverer to nearly 100 and from delivering just food to pretty much anything. Pretty impressive for a first-time entrepreneur starting with an idea and a bicycle.
Don’t ride away, listen to the full interview with Phil Dumontet below!
- In response to biggest factor of success to date: “Having an incredibly strong and supporting and encouraging family has been the single most important factor for me.”
- Biggest mistake: Trying to do too much at once. “Real long term growth is only possible with delegating.”
- Although a foodie, Phil never pictured himself in the “food business” until the opportunity presented itself.
- “Leap of faith to delegate. Starts with having the right people on board who want to be with you for the long-term. It becomes easier and easier to trust.”
- 25% of the companies vehicles are bikes or scooters.
- How many hours a week do you work on Dashed? “About 60 hours a week.”
- How much sleep do you get a night? 7-8 hours a night.
- What’s the worst business idea you’ve ever had? “In terms of Dashed, overexpansion and trying to take on too many projects at once. Don’t spread yourself too thin.”
- If you could not be an entrepreneur, what would you be? “I would always be an entrepreneur in some sense. I wouldn’t choose anything else.”
- If you could add one entrepreneur in the world to Dashed, who would it be and why? On a practical level I would look to add somebody that has a different skill-set than I have. I would look to people like Richard Branson or Jeff Bezos.
Listen to the full interview here:
*Phil Dumontet is a member of the Young Entrepreneurs’ Council. Thank you to the YEC for the introduction. For more information on the YEC, visit: http://yec.co/