Ilir Sela took his passion for pizza and created a delivery app, Slice, that targets the tens of thousands of under served small town pizza shops nationwide trying to hold their own against the big guys in food and pizza delivery. Alva French reports.
Ilir Sela has a passion for pizza. (SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) ILIR SELA, FOUNDER & CEO, SLICE, SAYING: "I'm third generation in the pizza industry. My grandpa, father, uncle owned pizza restaurants in Manhattan in the 1970s." Back in 2010, the Staten Island native worried that giant national pizza chains Domino's and Pizza Hut were crushing his favorite mom and pop shops. So, Sela launched a pizza delivery app, called Slice. (SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) ALVA FRENCH, REUTERS CORRESPONDENT, SAYING: I'm Alva French in New York, home to hundreds of pizzerias. Pizza delivery is kind of taken for granted here, but the Slice pizza app isn't just going after Big Apple pizza joints, they're actually going after under served pizza shops in Small Town, USA, where those mom & pop shops are trying to battle and hold their own the lucrative pizza wars. (SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) ILIR SELA, FOUNDER & CEO, SLICE, SAYING: "There's about 45-50,000 local pizza restaurants that have been around for generations. We partner with local pizza restaurants to make them more efficient, bringing tech and marketing to restaurants that are more or less off the grid today." It's a strategy that's attracting interest. He says he's secured seed funding of $20 million dollars and hired Ryan Scott, former CMO of Seamless and Soulcycle, to be his new chief marketing officer. (SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) ALVA FRENCH, REUTERS CORRESPONDENT, SAYING: The Slice team also leverages the consumer data to help pizzerias get to know their customers, so they're even able to notice surges in delivery around popular Netflix premieres for shows like Black Mirror and Master of None. True to his roots, Sela still keeps close tabs on some of his earliest pizza partners. Billy's Pizza and Pasta in Crown Heights, Brooklyn is one of them. (SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) ILIR SELA, FOUNDER & CEO, SLICE, SAYING: "In fact when people say it's plain, I get offended. The difference is there's a lot of richness to a classic cheese pizza, there's a lot that goes into it. It's not just plain."