Design At Odeko

Design At Odeko

Brian Lin 02.09.23

What is Odeko?

At Odeko, our mission is to create tools that make the small business industry more equitable so independent cafes, bakeries, and restaurants can compete with the mega-corporations of the world.

We now operate in over 10 cities across the US, and have thousands of independent cafes, bakeries and suppliers together into a single platform to provide small businesses a technology that now just mega-corporations are able to use of the world (looking at you, Starbucks). For a cafe owner starting out, we take out the guesswork by instantly giving them dozens of local vendors they can source from, directly from our portal. The baker and syrup supplier now instantly gets new business instead of having to spend time chasing down empty leads. We want to create an ecosystem around connecting corner-shop restaurants and cafes so the future of our neighborhoods stay local. And the key to that connection is creating elegant, delightful experiences that helps everybody in that ecosystem thrive.


What’s the role of Design?

As a designer at Odeko, you’ll have the opportunity to impact almost every single part of that food service journey, from when an item is picked in our warehouse, handled by our drivers, stored by the barista, and served in the hands of our sippers. In the past, much of these processes are handled on pen and paper, mountains of excel spreadsheets, and dozens of phone calls with their vendor. Design’s role is to think of creative approaches to solve the real life problems our users face every day, and reward them through a seamless experience which simplifies their lives.


Who we are made up of

Brand Team

The brand team works on creating an authentic and resonant set of values through messaging and a visual identity that represents the company’s mission and value propositions.

Brand works with all company stakeholders to ensure this identity and voice is consistent across every customer touchpoint. Consistency is key in developing brand because it evokes reliability and sets expectations for the type of service that will come from your interation with the Odeko product. 

Product Team

UX Research

UX Researchers spend time gathering insights and a deeper understanding of our customers. They conduct user interviews and tests to uncover opportunities to improve our current process while partnering with data science and engineering to bring these proposals into real-world solutions.

Product Designer

Product Designers at Odeko create end-to-end experiences for cafes, consumers, and our own internal logistics team. Each designer is also embedded in a product team and focuses on a strategic pillar for the company. You’ll also have the opportunity to collaborate with and strengthen your knowledge of other teams, such as branding, engineering, customer service, sales, and warehouse logistics.


How do we do it?

Our Design Values

Continuously learn

Maintain continuous improvement over time. Even when we acknowledge the wins we should always be looking for ways to reflect and improve the process.

Empower from each other

We value constant learning and growth. We support each other in our growth as designers.

Start with our customers

We co-create with our users and stakeholders and build their trust.

Work openly

Design is not siloed. Instead we are a product partner and collaborator.

Love people

People first mentality. We value kindness and compassion.

Build ethically

Create positive change that are socially responsible.

Getting out there

Our team is constantly talking with customers to hear about their pain points and how they’re using our products. We pride ourselves on being customer-first, and since we build products that exist both on the screen and the physical world, we want to get out there and talk to our customers first-hand (or during COVID, many Zoom calls).

Cafe Councils: We have monthly Cafe Councils in all of our cities where we hear about the cafe culture specific to their market and how they use Odeko, and we always have a designer in the meetings to collect feedback.

Ride-alongs: It’s hard to understand the experience of our delivery drivers delivering supplies through downtown Manhattan at night, so we encourage all designers to experience at least one ride-along. You learn about good user experience first-hand when you see our routing software pick the most efficient and safest delivery routes for our drivers, or when you’re lugging 3 boxes of Oatly down old NYC service elevators!

Cafe Interviews: We regularly hold interviews with the baristas, managers, and owners which we serve to learn about their day-day operations and work they do behind the counter. This means observing (both in person and over video) how they count inventory, train and manage their staff, and calculate their margins and operating costs to find the magic formula for success. These have led to some of our biggest findings, such as the effectiveness of night-time deliveries for a high-traffic area like NYC or the need for a reliable way for restaurants to calculate their margins and costs for supplies.

High ownership

Designers have one of the most important roles at Odeko when it comes to proposing exciting new features and carrying them through to fruition. It’s our role to steer the company towards a north star and craft the vision from a customer-first perspective. In the past, designers have led organization-wide exercises of what the company wants to achieve in the next few years, and using strategies like Amazon’s Press Release template to work backwards to understand how to achieve those goals. This also means working closely with product managers, stakeholders, and engineers to build an ideal solution that breaks down an ideal future state with achievable goals in the short and medium-term.

Learning at hypergrowth

In the last 3 years at Odeko, our entire team has grown by more than 1000% percent, from a small-but-mighty squad of 40 to more than 400 employees. Our design team has more than tripled during that time to 10 (and counting) people. Part of the excitement (and challenge) about working at a fast-growing company is that your work never stays stagnant and the feedback loop is short - you’ll be constantly working on an ever-changing product and adapting to build the needs of cafes and small-business restaurants who need our help the most.

As such, learning how to balance speed while also maintaining attention to detail is important by understanding how to have the biggest impact within a set of constraints. We have a philosophy here of building enough to create the minimal-viable-product (MVP) of a product so we can get it in the hands of our customers and figuring out what works.

Personal growth, personnel growth

Our design org is still small and nimble enough where we can prioritize both the professional and personal growth of each designer. We hold monthly career development meetings as well as semi-annual performance reviews with our Design Director where we chart out where we see ourselves professionally in the next few years. In addition to our regular design syncs, we have a weekly session called “Fresh Eyes” where we encourage everyone to share what they are working on, regardless of stage it’s at or level of polish, and solicit feedback! We host quarterly reflections as a team to also see how far each designer has come, and celebrating their progress. Furthermore, designers also have the opportunity to change teams, or switch to a new vertical if they are interested in working on a new opportunity. 

While professional growth is important, we also understand each one of us has personal interests we want to cultivate outside of work as well. Our team encourages designers to use the personal growth stipend allotted to everyone at Odeko to build on any skill they choose – over the months, people on our team have taken courses on climate action, conducting user research, and product strategy. We’ve also used the stipend to improve our Spanish, learn salsa dance, and try latte art! Some of our upcoming team events involve planning a design conference we can attend together as well as other in-person meetups.

Design at Odeko ultimately means working on impactful, industry-defining projects and in an environment where we encourage each other to be the best version of themselves. Looking back, we’re incredibly proud of what our team has accomplished in the last few years, and look towards 2023 excited about the new ways we can bring value to cafes and small businesses to help the local ecosystem thrive. If this sounds like an opportunity you want to be part of, please get in touch.

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