Pizza lovers, rejoice: Slice, an app for ordering from local pizzerias, just officially launched in Boston.
Ilir Sela, Slice’s founder and CEO, comes from a pizza family; his grandfather, father, and uncle have each owned pizza joints. He started Slice in 2010 after working on websites for his relatives and realizing that local pizzerias like theirs would need some help if they wanted to compete with what Sela calls “Big Pizza” — Domino’s, Pizza Hut, and Papa John’s.
You won’t find those chains on Slice, only locally owned pizza places. The app is also less focused on matching people with restaurants like Grubhub does. Rather, Sela’s goal is to make ordering from one’s favorite pizzeria as quick and easy as possible. It’s what Sela calls “a loyalty-first approach.”
“There’s no discovery component, per se,” says Sela. “It’s very much driven for consumers who come back week after week to the same pizza restaurant for family pizza night or sporting events on the weekends.”
Slice started in Sela’s native New York, but it wasn’t long before pizzerias across the country started joining. The app has partnered with more than 7,000 restaurants, with about 40 in Boston — including Boston House of Pizza, Alexandria Pizza, and Supreme House of Pizza. Though all of these restaurants have been on Slice for a while, the official launch reflects Sela’s desire to make the Boston area a major focus.
“It’s a pizza-passionate town,” says Sela. “The Northeast in general is very passionate about pizza, local pizza specifically. Massachusetts has one of the highest concentrations of local, independent pizza restaurants per capita.”
According to Sela, there are about 38,000 independent pizzerias nationwide that aren’t set up to accept orders online, and about half of those don’t even have a website. It’s Sela’s belief that Slice can help these mom-and-pop shops catch up technologically with “Big Pizza,” which out-grossed independent pizzerias by $6 billion last year. His goal is to bring the number of restaurants using Slice into the 40,000-50,000 range.
“There are still plenty of restaurants that today struggle in terms of providing convenience, but also making sure that they get enough value from their digital partners,” says Sela.
When asked whether he had a favorite pizza spot in Boston, Sela demurred. He’d prefer to focus on the tech and business side of Slice, rather than worry about which place has the best pie. Besides, all of his favorite pizzerias are back home in New York.
“It’s tough to tell people what the favorite is because everyone has their own, individual favorite,” says Sela.Terence Cawley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.