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How Ooni Pizza Ovens grew by 13X in 2 years

Ooni Pizza Ovens brought the world’s first-ever portable wood-fired pizza oven to market in 2012.

These wins are phenomenal and reflect Ooni’s commitment to applying what they learned, from rapid experimentation to user interviews. But this growth was sustained in subsequent years by the mindset shift that the entire team adopted as a result of being at SCS. 

Create (and dominate) an entire category 

Ooni Pizza Ovens brought the world’s first-ever portable wood-fired pizza oven to market in 2012.  They’ve carved out (and dominated) this product category, having sold nearly 1 million ovens worldwide. They’ve won multiple awards and continue to grow their international team of 300+ employees. But it wasn’t always like this. When we first met Ooni, they were a crowd-funded startup of 55 or so pizza lovers. 

 

When hard work doesn’t deliver results 

The founders — Kristian Tapaninaho and Darina Garland — had a remarkable product and a passionate team but were struggling to grow beyond £13M in annual revenue. The founders knew they’d hit a plateau but they’d also exhausted all the growth strategies they were aware of. Plus, there wasn’t a huge demand for portable wood-fired pizza ovens because no one really knew they wanted one simply because the product category didn’t exist. 

Snapshot:
  • Company name: Ooni Pizza Ovens

  • Industry: eCommerce (D2C)

  • Results since graduating: 13X (£13.5M in 2019, £200M in 2022)

The team was obsessed with numbers and finding hypotheses that were “right” instead of understanding their users or being bold. They worked in silos, with their own interpretations of what growth should look like. They weren’t short of good ideas (in fact, they had too many that were all over the place) but the team lacked execution, clarity, and focus. Overall, their marketing efforts were genuine but did little to nothing in helping Ooni break through its growth ceiling. 

Finding out what actually works 

Ooni joined SCS about 8 years after launching their startup, but initially, they had their doubts. After all, they’d already tried every growth hack and ran through a fair amount of digital marketing courses. Why would SCS be any different? 

“We asked ourselves if we had $5M in funding, would we even know what to do with it? That’s why we needed a program like Startup Core Strengths. To show us the proper levers and execution strategies for rapid, sustainable growth."

Darina Garland

CEO, Ooni

As Darina bluntly puts it

“We were worried it’d be generic like other programs and we wouldn’t learn anything new. But the principles we covered were directly applicable to our business. It transformed our failing methods into systems that successfully converted prospects into customers.”

One of the principles that impacted Ooni’s growth was how to run a metrics-driven process of rapid experimentation. Throughout the 10-week course, the team was given step-by-step guidance on how to prioritise, design and test their (fast) experiments, and leverage those findings into tangible solutions. They were able to expand beyond paid channels and successfully test other ways to generate leads. 

Working 1-on-1 with their dedicated growth coach, Ooni was also able to identify their North Star Metric, enabling “everyone on the team to sing from the same hymn sheet” as founder Darina Garland puts it. This clarity and focus allowed them to cut initiatives that didn’t lead to growth, and redirect those resources towards the main goal, helping more people enjoy great pizza at home.

Ooni learned to look past product features and strategic plans and think from their customer’s perspective. They optimised their online shopping experience to their customer’s needs instead of their own theories. From improving their landing page to finding celebrities to promote their ovens on social media, Ooni tested relentlessly and found levers that drove huge growth.

Rapid Experimentation
Intense Focus
Seeing past their own biases

The results:

  •  Over 5 million pizza ovens sold since 2012
  • 5X year-on-year growth after graduating from SCS. 
  • Ranked #1 in the Sunday Times’ “Fastest growing companies in Scotland” list (2 years in a row)

Snapshot:
  • Company name: Ooni Pizza Ovens

  • Industry: eCommerce (D2C)

  • Results since graduating: 13X (£13.5M in 2019, £200M in 2022)

Ooni Pizza Ovens brought the world’s first-ever portable wood-fired pizza oven to market in 2012.  They’ve carved out (and dominated) this product category, having sold nearly 1 million ovens worldwide. They’ve won multiple awards and continue to grow their international team of 300+ employees. But it wasn’t always like this. When we first met Ooni, they were a crowd-funded startup of 55 or so pizza lovers. 

 

Create (and dominate) an entire category 
When hard work doesn’t deliver results 

The founders — Kristian Tapaninaho and Darina Garland — had a remarkable product and a passionate team but were struggling to grow beyond £13M in annual revenue. The founders knew they’d hit a plateau but they’d also exhausted all the growth strategies they were aware of. Plus, there wasn’t a huge demand for portable wood-fired pizza ovens because no one really knew they wanted one simply because the product category didn’t exist. 

Quotation mark

“Before Startup Core Strengths, our teams were afraid of change and worked in silos. The program really helped unify the team and brought us under one North Star metric that promoted cross-functional collaboration. We learned to embrace failure as a path forward towards growth, not away from it.”

Emilija Hanna   | Head of Performance Marketing