NakedPizza, the New Orleans-based carry-out and delivery pizza concept backed by Mark Cuban and Robert Kraft of The Kraft Group, has awarded a 10-unit area development contract for Louisville, Kentucky, and surrounding counties to an investment group led by David Lawyer.
Louisville is home to the corporate headquarters of industry leader Papa John's. The area development award is the latest in NakedPizza's 2010 national expansion. In January, the company made awards of 50 units in Florida and eight units in Colorado with a total of 92 units under development.
NakedPizza's ambitious mission and effectiveness with social media has attracted international media attention and more than 3,000 area development inquiries. NakedPizza's mission was featured in the New York Times, and it's use of social media has been singled out by Entrepreneur Magazine, Reuters, and on Twitter's Web site alongside international brands such as JetBlue, Levi's, Pepsi, and Dell. Pizza Marketplace included NakedPizza on it's "Best of 2009" list, calling it a "lesson in differentiating in a saturated market."
NakedPizza's business model borrows its operational DNA from successful carry-out and delivery operations (e.g. Domino's and Papa John's). It's mission to hijack the $30 billion pizza industry with a healthier pizza is based on two fundamental proof points: Make a nutritionally balanced pizza taste good, and design a disciplined, scalable business model that delivers consistent returns to investors.
The model won the backing of Cuban and Kraft, launching NakedPizza's North American franchise company at the end of 2009. The company is actively seeking partners around the country to round out its area development plans and is forecasting to award contracts for most major U.S. markets in 2010.
NakedPizza's high profile is linked to its intersection with a cultural and economic wave that includes a Price-Waterhouse report on the explosive growth of functional foods, the intensive marketing of healthy options by major food companies like General Mills and Kellogg's, the rising costs of health care and the health care reform debate, the growing influence in media of food activists like Michael Pollan, the pronounced desire for company's demonstrating social responsibility, and even first lady Michelle Obama's childhood obesity campaign.
NakedPizza's solution is an all-natural, fortified pizza, made with simple, unprocessed ingredients, informed by science and made affordable and available through the proven carry-out and delivery model. Its signature difference is a crust made with a diverse blend of whole grains, seeds, and beans fortified with prebiotic fiber and probiotics (live, beneficial, cultures) for digestive health, balance and well being. The sauce, cheese, meat, and vegetable toppings are all-natural with no added sugar, trans fats or high-fructose corn syrup. The company also offers a gluten-free crust and all-natural soy cheese. With less calories, a lower glycemic index, more protein than traditional pizzas, and benefits including bone health and immunity, NakedPizza is the world's first functional pizza.
NakedPizza co-founder Jeff Leach is an evolutionary anthropologist who specializes in ancient diets and human evolution, and he lectures internationally on nutrition. It was his field of study that led him to focus on using pizza, one of the world's most popular and affordable foods, as a Trojan horse for health, education, and a scalable business model.
NakedPizza was founded in 2006 by Leach and investment banker Randy Crochet. Leach and Crochet closely guard their vision considering it to be the "rocket fuel" that powers the economic potential of NakedPizza. According to the co-founders, "rethinking the food supply, from plow to plate, is our generation's civil rights movement."
Leach sums it up: "We started with two goals: prove we could make a nutritious pizza taste great, and demonstrate that it could be a profitable business model. Scale is core to our vision - we want to have impact by reaching millions of people, and that requires money, so we had to make a business case for our mission. Fast food is arguably the most successful commercial enterprise in the world in terms of marketing, product, distribution, and economies of scale. We're hijacking that with a pizza that is physiologically aligned with the way people should eat - that offers health instead of harm, and that doesn't contribute to epidemics of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, etc., and unsustainable health care costs. Our pizza is a point of authentic connection - we're really a social media company that sells pizza. It's a place to start a conversation about the food supply, policy, or anything else people want to talk about. It gives people some tools to make better decisions about the food they eat. Oh, and it's pizza."