Almost any new idea looks cool—until you start implementing it. Our cool idea was to sell milkshakes at Dodo Pizza. And back when we first started, the logic seemed cogent. Americans love milkshakes. Nobody in the pizza delivery business sells them. And most importantly, milkshakes perfectly fit our trendy concept.
Dodo Pizza has been working in Oxford for more than a month. That gives us the opportunity to perform an intriguing experiment and compare our actual results with our now half-a-year-old expectations. In a startup, such a task always brings the joy of discovery because after launching your business, you’re doomed to face something totally unexpected.
It’s been more than three weeks since we opened our first store in the US, and we’ve gotten some feedback from our customers. Almost every day, a few people ask if they can customize their pies. But they can’t. They won’t. We don’t allow that. Some people even get mad when they hear, “I’m sorry, but you can’t change the recipe.” Almost all pizzerias in the US have this option, but we have a whole bunch of reasons for not having it.
My father has never been to America and hasn’t met a single American in his entire life—and yet my dad is pretty sure that he knows everything about America and the Americans. He’s seen many movies, he’s heard some stories on the news, he’s read a few books—and now Dad is of the opinion that he doesn’t need anything beyond that to make his judgment. Here’s the thing. There are millions of people like him all over the world.
It was an obvious and frightening risk, but we plucked up our spirits and took a leap of faith. The Dodo Pizza grand opening was coming, and we had to decide how to let people know that there is a new pizzeria in town. We could place some ads in local newspapers. We could give away flyers on the streets. We could launch an online contest. But instead of all this common marketing stuff, we decided to try out just one thing: give a free pizza to each of the 500 people who signed up for our pizza trials.