Blog Article 18 Jul 2019
Toast raises a glass to growth in Ireland
Toast raises a glass to growth in Ireland

In the restaurant business, technology is fast becoming key to delivering superior service for customers, and this has propelled Boston-based Toast to revenue growth of 148 per cent during 2018.

 
The company powers successful restaurants of all sizes in the U.S. with a cloud-based technology platform that combines restaurant point of sale, front of house, back of house and guest-facing technology with a diverse marketplace of third-party applications. Launched in 2013, Toast was recently named the third-fastest growing technology company in North America by Deloitte. Earlier this year, the company was valued at $2.7 billion after completing a $250 million funding round.
 
In 2017, Toast incorporated in Ireland, having set a goal to expand in a location with a research and development (R&D) presence. Hugh Scandrett, a veteran of creating and running engineering teams at both start-ups and established companies, happened to join as SVP of engineering just as Toast was considering its expansion plans in early 2017.
 
Scandrett contributed to discussions at board level, helping to align Toast’s choice of location with its long-term aim to build up its R&D capabilities. This line of thinking ultimately led it to Ireland.


“We have a very actively developed product as far as research and development investment. Our first task was to select a place with a high level of technical capability, and clearly Dublin is very high among those places – graduates are attracted to come here, not only people already based there,” Scandrett explains “Toast is a dynamic new product that needs first-tier talent and we thought we could do that best in Dublin along with our team in Boston”.

 
Scandrett recruited Robert McGarry two years ago to lead the Dublin office. He says choosing a leader is about identifying someone who can become “a remote ambassador and leader to headquarters, and who can autonomously represent the company in all kinds of situations, whether to customers, potential candidates, to the IDA, or to other stakeholders,” he says.
 
McGarry conducted many of the early interviews when Toast was hiring locally in Dublin. To support him, Toast managers back in Boston also took part in this early recruitment process using video tools like Zoom. As the company became more established in Ireland, its office no longer needs as much help from HQ. “Now, most of the interviews are local,” confirms Scandrett. As part of the employee onboarding process, new recruits do spend a week in Boston at orientation events in Toast HQ.
 Toast Offices Dublin

Toast is hiring across a wide range of R&D roles, from junior to senior principal-level engineers and technologists, full stack engineers as well as speciality skill types specific to Toast’s target market, such as payment processing. It recently hired for its first DevOps role in Dublin, while it’s also keeping watch on technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning.
 
Scandrett’s R&D team for all of Toast now numbers 230 people, with 35 of them based in Dublin. The company also chose to put a small customer support team in Dublin to continue offering best-in-class, 24/7 support, 365 days a year. “We expect to grow that from 35 to 170 in R&D over the course of the next two years or less and we may even go faster than that. They’ll be maybe 40-50% of our US R&D team, so it’s very strategically significant,” he says. 
 
Ireland has proved to be a fertile recruiting ground for Toast’s needs – a fact Scandrett attributes to the presence of so many other technology companies in close proximity. “I think it’s the flywheel effect – there are enough technical people in the SaaS marketplace in Ireland, and many of them are working with a very familiar technical stack to what we’re using, so frankly it is a good fit for us” he says.
 
Geography is also working in Toast’s favour. When any company expands internationally, it needs to strike a balance between giving autonomy to the local office while keeping a consistent culture with its US parent. “Because we’re only four or five hours offset in Ireland, that wasn’t as big a concern; there’s a large overlap with the U.S. East Coast,” says Scandrett. The time zone also swayed a decision to set up a small telephone support team in Ireland. Toast spotted a natural overlap with restaurant and bar closing hours on the U.S. West Coast, and business hours in Ireland. Scandrett believes it’s important for engineers in the Irish office to help on those calls and get a first-hand perspective on customer issues. “Very quickly you get customer empathy and you get a really nice cycle of support and engineering teams helping one another,” Scandrett points out.
 
For companies looking to grow outside their home market, he advises keeping some key principles in mind when scaling. “Pick your leadership model and your remote-to-headquarters onboarding very, very carefully. In Toast’s case, we’re building for the long-term, and we’re building for our culture. We don’t just want a job shop of coders; you can hire them anywhere. If you’re building strategically at a location you can count on, you make sure you have the right location and you have the right leadership. Be really clear on why you’re going, and why Dublin is the right choice.”
 
July 2019 - Restaurant Management Platform Toast Expands to New Office in Dublin

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