4 acquisitions and over 1000 employees later, Grubhub hasn’t lost that startup feeling

Written by Tessa McLean
Published on Jun. 30, 2015
4 acquisitions and over 1000 employees later, Grubhub hasn’t lost that startup feeling


It doesn’t matter if you love tech or not — if you eat food or ride public transportation, you’ve probably heard of one of Chicago’s biggest startup success stories. Eleven years after its founding, the food discovery and delivery service is still growing, just this year acquiring two more companies, Dining Out and Restaurants on the Run. With these acquisitions the company employs over 1000 people and has raised over $84 million, but that doesn’t mean they’ve made a culture change. The company has made great strides to maintain a startup mentality, no matter how big they get. Here’s how:
Never stop learning
The best way to continue company growth, as well as keep your employees happy, is to make sure employees are constantly learning. Entrepreneur in Residence Michael Saunders said Grubhub leadership encourages employees to try new things and never get too comfortable.
“We want our employees to be customers,” Saunders said. “We want them to feel the same pain points as any diner would so we can enhance our products and make them better.” 
Stay focused 
It’s no surprise that you’ll never go hungry at the Grubhub office. Saunders said there’s food just about everywhere, especially in meeting places where pantries are placed. He said most employees have a passion for food one way or another, so there is plenty of talk about what trends are happening in the industry, how dining is evolving and more. 
Work hard, play hard
At Grubhub, the company hosts weekly happy hours and regular individual team get togethers. They encourage employees to work hard, but have fun too. 


Communication and transparency is key with any startup. Grubhub hosts regular town hall meetings and sends out a company-wide email weekly and as news happens. 
Aside from unlimited PTO, happy hours, free food at the office and wellness activities, Grubhub employees also get money each week so they’re able to use the service at home. They want their employees to have access to free food and also see their company through a customer’s eyes often. 
“Ultimately, we serve the diners and the restaurants," Saunders said. "The closer we get to understanding their pain points, it’s a unifying force and helps our vision to move forward.”
Foster community
The Grubhub offices boasts an open floor plan with many natural meeting places (many with free food!). They even hired a graffiti artist to decorate the walls recently. They also turn one conference room into a mini restaurant once a week, where different employees get to run the business and tailor it to their own desires. 
“We're looking for great people who can fit into our culture and work ethic,” Saunders said. "We’re still in that high growth phase and we're always looking for the best talent. It’s about people with a real passion for technology."
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