Interview with Rajat Shroff
VP of Product at DoorDash
Hi Rajat, tell me about what you do at DoorDash.
I run Product and Design. The teams are responsible for developing product strategy and executing visions to help DoorDash achieve its mission of helping local communities and businesses reach their full potential.
What does the DoorDash Product team work on?
There are two aspects of the product team’s work. One is based on the audience group we support: Consumer, Merchant, and Dashers. Consumer team is focused on helping consumers get their food faster at a more affordable price. Merchant team is all about helping the merchants grow their business and operate more efficiently. Dasher team enables our Dashers to earn more on the DoorDash platform with flexibility.
Another set of teams is based on the new vertical products that touch on all three audiences in the DoorDash ecosystem. Some examples are Catering, Convenience, and Grocery.
What made you decide to join DoorDash 3 years ago?
I worked on several products that have helped small businesses find ways to grow over 10 years. It’s often harder for small businesses to capitalize on the ROI of online systems like SEO and ads. Most existing solutions require merchants to heavily discount or advertise their products, and merchants don’t have the flexibility they’d like to attain specific goals.
I’ve been looking for a company that lives by a merchant-first approach and found that DoorDash was exactly that. DoorDash provides the flexibility to merchants to solve their unique challenges, whether it’s about bringing new customers, creating loyalty programs, introducing new products, expanding to catering, building their own marketing channels, etc.
You’ve been leading the products in many other tech companies in the past. What makes our product org stand out?
First of all, we made an intentional decision to keep the product and design team small, so that each of us has a tremendous amount of leverage. The impact each of us makes should be visible from space.
Secondly, we don’t think about what we build as a “product.” Rather, we think about what we build as a “service.” We know that our customers come to DoorDash not because of the app itself, but because they need a service. For consumers, it means getting their food on time from their favorite merchants. For Merchants, it means getting more orders from more customers and growing their businesses. Dashers, it means earning more money as efficiently as possible.
To deliver the service-driven product, you have to collaborate with Sales, Support, and Operation teams closely. Every PM and Designer needs to understand operational challenges and then use technology to scale the solution. And a lot of times, this doesn’t happen while sitting behind the desk. A lot of our teams are experiencing each audience in the field. For example, our merchant team would work behind the counter or spend days in the kitchen to observe the merchant’s operational challenges. Our Dasher team would ride along with Dashers to understand the challenges around parking, pickup, and dropoff processes.
Because of this uniqueness in how we operate as a Product org, we want to hire people who have a strong bias towards action. They need to have ambition but should be able to break up problems into small parts to test their hypotheses faster. Curiosity is another important one as they need to know the ins and outs of their customers. As we are tightly knitted with cross-functional teams on all problems we solve, collaboration ability is also critical.
How would you describe the culture of DoorDash Product and Design?
Foremost importantly, a strong sense of ownership. The leadership team provides goals and then from there, how each team achieves their goals truly comes from bottom up. PMs and Designers obsess about their audience, define the strategy, and drive the solution.
Another unique culture about us is speed, a breakneck speed. We spend a lot of time prioritizing so that the execution itself can go fast. We create projects fast, launch them fast, and also kill them fast if they don’t work. Agility and resilience have been in our DNA from day one.
How do you work with the Design team day to day?
I’m quite closely plugged into the design processes end to end, from the product briefs to vet the problem statements as a team, the design reviews to iterate the design strategy and execution, to the ship review to ensure the quality of the product we’re shipping. I also closely work with the research team to understand customer insights.
Besides those recurring reviews, I also enjoy strolling around the design team’s area in the office. And this is when I hear a lot of interesting new ideas from designers in more informal settings. Often I’m impressed by the team thinking beyond what’s on the roadmap to bring more delight to our customers, and I feel excited to help bring those visions to come true.
What do you think the Design’s role is in the product organization?
The design team is the keepers of customer delight and customer love. They are the ones who are the closest to what the customer touches at the end of the day. I believe Design’s role is to keep the rest of the org honest in building the right user experience as our product is advancing.
At DoorDash, designers are highly encouraged to bring a strong opinion and challenge the cross-functional partners. I value some healthy friction in debates as it uncovers new areas and broadens our perspectives. Also, I look to the design team to the rest of the company about how to apply the customer love to drive a delightful experience end to end.
Looking back a year, what excites you about the Design team at DoorDash?
For the past year, the team has literally tripled its size and we have brought in many new talents into DoorDash. Now there’s a robust process that enables us to move faster while keeping the design standard high. The design team has also found a strong voice within the company, and they feel more empowered to bring perspectives in decision-making processes.
All of these make me very excited about where the Design team is now as well as what it’ll become in the future.
Do you have any advice to give to Design/Content/Research candidates who are considering to join DoorDash?
The problems we’re solving at DoorDash are difficult and complex, involving multi-sided audiences, online and offline. And we provide lots of high leverage opportunities for folks to come and invent new things and make an impact that’s visible from space. Adding to that, our mission of uplifting our local communities is very relevant for the current climate we are in. If you’re ready to learn a lot from amazing design leaders and make a massively outsized impact, this will be the best team to join!
Thanks, Rajat for your time! :-)
Please learn more about other leaders at DoorDash:
Christopher Payne — Chief Operating Officer
Tony Xu — Chief Executive Officer
Helena Seo — Head of Design
Erin Strange — Head of New Verticals Design
Blake Engel — Head of Logistics Platform Design
Cameron Wu — Head of Merchant Platform Design
Andrew Hahn — Head of Operations & Support Platform Design
Kathryn Gonzalez — Head of Design Infrastructure
Tae Kim — Head of Content Strategy
Zach Schendel — Head of User Experience Research