For entrepreneur Scott Svenson, it all started with a cup of coffee and an idea for a new business. Living in London, England, but missing their hometown Seattle, he and his wife Ally started the Seattle Coffee Company, a coffee chain with a hint of home. In 1998 Starbucks came knocking and bought the company for a whopping $85 million. Since then they have successfully built multiple companies, including Carluccio’s, an Italian restaurant, and their newest venture MOD Pizza, which they say is the first fast-casual customizable pizza company.
The inaugural MOD pizza opened in 2008 in their hometown, and the “pizza with a purpose” brand was off and running. Scott serves as MOD’s CEO and Ally as MOD’s Protector of the Purpose. Last year alone, MOD opened an eye-popping 110 new units, growing its store base by more than 57 percent as it expanded into seven more states. They were recognized as the No. 1 mid-sized restaurant in the U.S., according to Fishbowl Buzz Brands Report. Today MOD has more than 300 system-wide locations and is the leader of the fast-casual market segment.
To help fund this explosive growth, the company recently raised $33 million of additional equity, which brings the company’s total equity capital raised to date to more than $185 million. This funding is expected to support MOD’s continued rapid expansion in the U.S. and U.K. for the remainder of this year.
The Svensons attribute much of MOD’s success to the people-first mission, starting with employee pay, benefits and hiring practices. Scott will give the opening keynote address at International Pizza Expo on Tuesday, March 20 from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. in room S222. He’ll speak about the culture and business philosophy behind their company’s impressive success. With more than 6,000 MOD Squaders system-wide, MOD is known for its team-first culture and its commitment to providing opportunities to those who face barriers to employment.
That attention to the team goes well beyond inspiring messages and into employee bank accounts. If you want to make sure your employees are engaged, happy and inspired, then they have to be paid well. MOD Pizza currently has a base hourly wage of $10.50, well above the federal minimum wage of $7.25. Better yet, all team members working an average of 26 or more hours per week are eligible for dental/vision benefits. In addition, employees accrue time off. The company has other perks, like an emergency fund called “The Bridge Fund” for employees who experience a life crisis or other troubling circumstances.
To the Svensons, the opening of a new location is as much about the community as it is about making a profit. To that end, the money made from all pizza sales on opening day go to a local charity that the team chooses. They also donate $1 to a not-for-profit organization for every pizza sold during the Thanksgiving season.
I think you’ll find the MOD Pizza story fascinating — an inspiring opening act on the busy first exhibit hall day at Pizza Expo.
Group Show Director
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