Inspired by Olo’s growth journey and steadfast commitment to helping restaurants do more with less, Priya Thinagar took on the role of Executive Vice President of Technology in late 2021.
Since joining, she has led our Product, Engineering, and Design teams to create best-in-class digital ordering experiences for off-premise and dine-in guests.
We recently sat down with Thinagar to find out why she chose to work at Olo, highlights from her first year on the job, the key to effective leadership, and more.
Why did you join Olo?
Restaurants are the stronghold of local communities. They act as impactful gathering places where people build relationships and make memories. But it's tough running a restaurant business—dealing with labor shortages, talent acquisition, and low margins. I thought of how cool it would be to help these local businesses thrive and do more with technology. Working in the intersection of two things I like the most, technology and food, is one of the reasons I chose Olo.
Additionally, as an aspiring entrepreneur, working in a founder-led organization meant learning from the best to focus on long-term guidance. A founder sees the company as their life’s work, so they are highly motivated to think about the long-term. I know from reading about successful founders that they have an owner’s mindset—speeding up decisions and a bias for action. Add a notch of purpose and you have this amazing formula that can drive individuals to impactful careers.
Lastly, when I started a year ago, Olo was going through a phase of intense scale. Having read “Blitzscaling” by Reid Hoffman and seeing the energy in fast-paced scaling to build sustainable organizations, I wanted to be at the center of the action-packed journey on this rocket ship.
Tell us a little bit about what you do.
I lead Product, Engineering, and Design for Olo’s core products and platform. Our mission is to remove any friction in the ordering experience, irrespective of the medium chosen to order. Our teams focus on reliability and scale, deeply embracing a data-driven culture to push our limits on being an elite organization.
Looking back on your first year at Olo, what are you most proud of?
First of all, I’m proud of the Omnivore acquisition, where we saw the potential of the data and sync with POS which unlocks new product opportunities and a strong technical team. In the last few months, bringing the Omnivore data together with Olo’s rich order data, and being able to drive insights for capacity, has been fun to watch. The best is yet to come.
The second is Borderless Olo Pay—from ideation to minimum viable product (MVP) in less than two quarters of bringing together a team. We set a clear vision and focus for them and let them autonomously deliver. To see guests saving credit card information so they can checkout without friction across Olo’s network of restaurants has been rewarding.
Looking ahead, what are you most excited about?
I see the potential of bringing the best guest experiences and operational excellence for our brands through our data science initiatives. We have seen accuracy in order promise times with just the order and make-time data. The possibilities are limitless.
The next generation of guests is technologically savvy, prefers personalization, and expects brands to meet them where they are. With restaurants investing in digital enhancements to appeal to this hyper-connected guest population, I see a lot of opportunities for Olo to help our brands revolutionize their business through technology.
Name three things you love about working at Olo.
1. The problems we solve with a ground ball mentality—there is never a dull moment. 2. The pace at which we operate helps our brands solve complex problems in a timely manner. 3. And, most importantly, my team and the leadership on my teams.
What makes a great leader?
Great leaders make hard choices in order to enhance the lives of others around them. They also have a blend of humility and unparalleled will to lead others in service of a cause that is bigger than themselves.
Any advice for aspiring women in tech?
My favorite woman leader, Eleanor Roosevelt, said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Remain positively curious and remember that the future is what you make it to be, so dream big.
To learn more about Olo and apply for one of our job openings, visit our careers page.