How GrubHub Obsesses Over Their Customers (in a Good Way) 

Last year, GrubHub was weeks away from releasing a new product. But at the last minute, they decided to pull the plug.

“I actually felt pretty good about it,” recalled Sandra Dainora, director of product, at our Chicago Sessions event last week. “An important part of a good product development relationship is being able to know when it’s time to pull the plug and when it’s time to evaluate: is this meeting a problem that our user has? Is this the best way to solve the problem?”

At GrubHub, they’re always thinking about what the user wants and needs. To really understand how restaurants and patrons use their dining tools, GrubHub set up a restaurant in their office where employees could try them. Last summer, they spent weeks and weeks in actual restaurants just watching the staff use their products. 

“We’re really trying to build empathy,” said Dainora, who runs surveys and usability tests as well. “Take out the hypotheticals and actually watch your customers using your product.”

Another small example: at some point, Dainora realized that they were spending so much time writing copy about how to use GrubHub while savvy users were barely reading it. So they stopped fretting over every word and comma. 

“Until you understand why and how people are using your products, you can make wrong inferences,” said Dainora. “And that’s something that we feel really strongly about.” 

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Written by:
Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact
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