🍕 Slice

How the pizza-focused app got their first 1000 customers

A Little bit about the company

Slice was started by Ilir Sela, a self-proclaimed "third-generation pizza." in 2010 and was initially named Mypizza, in tribute to the first pizzeria that Illia owned and managed. Unlike Doordash, Postmates, and other food aggregators, Slice takes a vertically integrated approach to delivery, which they dubbed as a "reverse franchise" model.

What is a reverse franchise model exactly?

Think of it as bringing the same kind of value to local pizzerias as Domino's delivers to their franchisees.

  • Aggregating buying power for SMBs for things like Pizza boxes decreasing costs by as much as 80%

  • Being the "back-office" for local pizzerias eliminating the need for hiring part-time workers for managing orders, answering calls..etc

  • Increase basket-size and order frequency for local pizzerias by a marketplace digital offering minus all crazy fees aggregators charge.

  • Negotiating and offering 3rd party services(such as delivery) at competitive prices due to the aggregated buying power.

Time for the good stuff...How did they get their first 1000 customers?

Loyalty first, discovery second.

To get started and even to this day, Ilir focused his sales pitch on getting more orders from YOUR CUSTOMERS rather than onboarding new clients as the other food aggregators preach. Ilir explains that if you've been living in a neighborhood for enough time, you likely already know what your favorite pizza spot is. The issue then becomes one of delivery as opposed to restaurant selection. That made it more compelling to onboard new clients and leap-frog the chicken and egg marketplace—liquidity problem.

Okay... but still, how did he get pizzerias on board?

He picked up the phone and started calling in local pizzerias and insisted on showing up personally at the store.  That humanized the company and allowed him to develop some rapport with small business owners. To lend himself more credibility he

  • Leased a small car and wrapped it with the brand

  • Parked it in front of the small restaurant to make sure they see it

Weirdly, that small gesture gave him even more credibility and made it seem that they had scale when they didn't.

Was that it?

Not quite it. When meeting with owners of these shops about his "digital" solution, it felt like a massive change to the business operations and made a lot of small shop owners reluctant to get on board.

At the same time, he noticed that all these menus still had fax numbers that were used by companies nearby to order in lunch for their employees. So instead of trying to sell his solution, he decided to sell his value proposition which is MORE ORDERS FROM YOUR CUSTOMER and so he

  • Changed pitch to "Do you want more fax orders" rather than do you want to join our platform. Easy, simple way to demonstrate value.

  • Figured out how to turn online orders into faxes and offered almost no downside for people joining

  • After onboarding new "fax clients" and demonstrating value, he would then go on to onboard them onto the Slice platform, which offered even more value and increased efficiency to the owners.

His parting words of advice

"Fit yourself within the existing workflow to show value and then change them for the better. "

That is it for today, See you on Sunday 😉