Margarita with a side of tech: this is the story of Dodo Pizza

Dodo Pizza isn’t your typical pizza delivery company. What started as just a single restaurant in Syktyvkar, northern Russia, is now 218 stores in nine countries, from Romania to Kazakhstan, to the US and China.

Back home, Dodo Pizza has recently overtaken Domino’s, Papa John’s, and Pizza Hut to become Russia’s market leader in pizza delivery – all this from a company that is just six years old. The man in charge of this success? Fedor Ovchinnikov.

“When I founded Dodo Pizza, I set out to combine technology, the Internet, and pizza to revolutionise the food industry,” recalls Fedor, CEO of Dodo Pizza. “My idea was to create an IT company that makes pizza. A next-generation pizza franchise.”

Fedor had a bold vision for the future of pizza delivery. Even before the first Dodo Pizza store opened, he was investing in the chain’s proprietary digital system, Dodo IS. Fedor’s dream was to create a more efficient pizza delivery model, built on the cloud, which could be easily scaled through franchising. As it turned out, Dodo IS was the secret sauce that would propel the Dodo Pizza franchise to global success.

“Today, it’s as easy to open a new restaurant on the Dodo IS system as it is to set up a new Facebook account,” Fedor says. “From China to the US, all users can view data in all stores in real time. We can make informed business decisions based on accurate sales forecasting, from staffing rotas, to how many kilos of tomatoes need to be sliced every day.”

As Dodo Pizza expanded, so did the capabilities of Dodo IS. Today, every part of the business from individual pizza orders, to marketing, to warehouse management, are managed through the platform. The system is also absolutely free to franchisees, making it easier to find entrepreneurs to partner with in new countries.

Cooking on the cloud

Fedor’s mission to make Dodo Pizza international is deeply personal. Back in 2010 he was living in Syktyvkar, picking up the pieces of his last business and dreaming of creating a company that would make an impact on the world.

“Back then, I was a failed entrepreneur. I had to sell my shares in my existing business, a chain of bookstores, for basically nothing,” he recalls. “But I had gained a lot of experience. And I had a lot of drive to move forward.”

Dodo Pizza was launched the following year with $15,000 of funding. The company’s first investor was an avid reader of Fedor’s personal blog, where he recorded the ups-and-downs of his old bookselling business. Impressed by Fedor’s honesty, the investor decided to help fund his new venture.

Fast-forward to 2014, when Dodo Pizza completed the largest crowdfunding effort in Russia’s history. The company raised more than $2 million from 180 private investors, many of whom were IT professionals and engineers that recognised the potential of this new, technology-first franchising model. The money propelled the development of the Dodo IS and, as a result, the company’s rapid global expansion.

To run a seamless global platform like Dodo IS, Fedor needed a cloud service that was flexible, good value, and could expand rapidly to meet demand.

“When we first started developing Dodo IS, we counted every penny. We joined Microsoft’s BizSpark program, which provided us with our first taste of Azure. Once the franchise took off, we decided to make Azure our primary cloud platform.”

The sky’s the limit

Fedor’s dream of making Dodo Pizza one of the giants of the fast food industry seems closer than ever before. His ambition is to open more than 2,000 stores by 2020, and to continue to develop Dodo IS to support better customer service and ensure his employees are the happiest in the industry.

There’s no end to Fedor’s wild ideas for transforming the fast food industry. With drones already delivering pizza to customers in Russia, nothing seems impossible for this entrepreneur.

“This may sound cheesy – pun intended – but we do want to change the world for the better. With the help of technology, we will be able to deliver restaurant quality food and service at an affordable price for everyone.”