Slice, a technology provider for independent pizza restaurants, secured a significant round of funding as it helps client businesses power through the pandemic.
Pizza has been a big winner during the COVID-19 pandemic, Domino’s reported a 7.1 percent increase in same-store sales early on during the crisis. The mega chain, however, benefits from a massive tech budget and exceptional branding.
The neighborhood pizzeria, however, just can’t compete with a technology stack like that. And that’s where Slice comes in. The company was built to help smaller pizza chains and mom-and pop pizza shops compete with the big guys using better technology.
Essentially, the company provides an app for consumers that taps into a network of local pizzerias, giving them a modern ordering and delivery experience. Plenty of the small pizza restaurants are also on delivery networks, but with a fee cap of $2.25 per order, Slice is potentially more attractive than a percentage-based commission structure, especially for owners who already have driver fleets. The key part is the digital infrastructure to route orders to local pizza operators as easily as other delivery networks.
That’s the logic behind a $43 million Series C investment round led by KKR, which tapped into its Next Generation Technology Growth Fund II; which was funded in January of this year. The fund is direction capital to high-growth technology companies in the U.S., Europe and Israel.
Allan Jean-Baptiste, KKR principal said another aspect to the investment is supporting independent businesses rattled by the pandemic.
“Now more than ever, it is critical that we support local businesses in these volatile times. Local independent pizzerias have been feeding Americans across communities for decades and we are excited to put our resources behind Slice as they help to move these businesses online,” said Jean-Baptiste. “Slice charges small business owners a fraction of the fees charged by food delivery apps and offers a suite of vertical specific solutions to solve the challenges faced by independent pizza makers. Slice provides easy to use technology and value to consumers by enabling access to local, high-quality food.”
GGV, RiverPark Ventures, Primary Ventures and Teamworthy also participated in the round, bringing total funding to $82 million, according to Crunchbase data.
“We started Slice because we believe independent pizza makers are an essential part of our local communities,” said founder and CEO Illir Sela, noting that the platform helps owners tap into the “significant surge in demand across our platform and we are focused on providing our pizzeria partners with the resources they need to access online sales channels at a time when in-restaurant demand has reduced significantly.”
Like what many other industries have seen, he said, the pandemic has accelerated trends that were already happening in the industry. The digital transformation of the restaurant industry is one that has been pushed especially hard as scores of new users try apps like Slice.
Currently, the company services more than 12,000 local pizzerias and helps them with digital infrastructure and marketing. The company has nearly 4 million pizza consumers in its system. Sela said the money will help accelerate growth to meet the growing demands of the COVID and post-COVID era.