Big hairy goal: from 49 to 250 developers in two years

Big hairy goal: from 49 to 250 developers in two years

07 September 2018

Fyodor Ovchinnikov

Dodo Pizza CEO

Fyodor Ovchinnikov

On September 1st, the search term “dodo pizza” made to the trending section in the Apple Store—along with “minecraft free download” and “” And we weren’t having a special promo that day. Parents were simply ordering pizzas for their kids to celebrate the beginning of the school year, and they were looking for our app. Just imagine it! Among all of the requests and products that such a big country has to offer, we made it to the top seven trends. We’ve become a part of Russia’s social life. And seven years ago, Dodo Pizza was just a pizza shop in a basement. Today, it’s the number one pizza brand in our country.   

I’ve been hammering it home so many times lately that you have probably gotten pretty bored with my bragging. But the question remains: how have we done it? What was the main contributing factor of our success? I buttonholed different people with this question and heard different things: the team, our openness, motivation…. But nobody pointed out the most important thing.

We’ve built a global pizza company because seven years ago, we set a goal to build a global pizza company. If we hadn’t done it then, now we wouldn’t have business in 10 countries. Seven years ago, people thought I was crazy setting such a goal while having just one pizza shop. Nevertheless, we set this target for real.

It’s a simple and practical method. You just visualize what you want and ask yourself: what should I do to achieve that? Say you want to launch a spaceship. Okay. It’s tough, but not unreal. You’ll just need time. And patience. You’ll also need a spaceship, tons of money, a team of engineers, etc. How do you get the spaceship, money, engineers? Thinking like this, you eventually come to the first step you have to take to achieve your goal. I call it “backward dreaming.” You can’t predict the future, but you can put together a plan. And then, your everyday routine and happenstances that occur along the way turn into a logical chain of events. You can’t predict the future, but you can make a map for yourself that will help you realize where to invest your energy today in order to be where you need to be the day after tomorrow.

Dodo Pizza has a real chance to build a global consumer business like McDonald’s or Coca-Cola. Nobody has done anything like that in Russia before. But do you know what our biggest constraint is? It’s Dodo IS, our IT system. It’s the towering advantage of our franchise—and our bottleneck at the same time. The system is huge. There is a e‑commerce part—a website and app, now used by millions of customers every month. There is a production system. Shift scheduling. Stock management. Contact center. CRM. Analytics. Cash-desks. And so much more. And all of this—in 10 countries. And it’s a service that has to remain operational 24/7.  

Do you know how many people develop this system today? Only 49 members of the team. And I know a few companies that develop IT solutions of the same scale or even less complicated systems that have 300, 350, or even 500 developers.

Within the last year, we almost doubled the Dodo IS team—from 26 to 49 people. Still, it’s not enough. We realize that our business has no boundaries, and to keep up with its growth, we need a breakthrough in IT. We have to move up to a new level as an IT company. We’ve come to terms with this fact and decided to set a new “big hairy” goal for ourselves.

This week, we publicly declared that within the next two years, we’re going to grow our IT team from 49 to 250 members.

It’s a pretty ambitious and in some sense even fantastical goal, though we believe this goal is achievable. Now we’ll need a plan. What should we do today to make it happen? A big office? A school for coders? Option plans? Money? How are we going to compete for talent with big IT companies? How will we preserve our culture with such rapid growth? I’ll talk about these issues in my next posts….

250 developers in two years. The game is on.

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