In the last year, MOD Pizza has nearly doubled in size — and it’s not slowing down now.
On Wednesday, the fast-casual pizza chain told Business Insider that it had raised another $42 million of equity, led by Fidelity Management and Research Company and PWP Growth Equity. That brings the total capital raised this year by MOD Pizza to $75 million — nearly half of the $150 million total the chain has raised.
“It’s an overnight success success 10 years in the making,” cofounder and CEO Scott Svenson told Business Insider.
The last few years have been explosive for the pizza company. In 2015, Technomic named MOD Pizza the fastest growing the restaurant business, as it grew a whopping 220% in the year. In 2016, the growth continues, with Svenson saying the chain will go from 92 locations to an estimated 195 by year’s end.
Svenson and his wife, Ally Svenson, founded MOD Pizza in 2008.
When the pair opened the first location in Seattle, the idea of a fast-casual pizza company was still mostly uncharted territory. MOD Pizza was intended to be a classier and healthier option, in opposition to take out-centric chains like Domino’s or Pizza Hut.
The chain serves up made-to-order, thin crust pies. Similar to Chipotle’s groundbreaking fast-casual system, customers can pick ingredients and see the pizzas being made in front of their eyes, with the entire process taking about 15 minutes.
While the chain has options like sausage and just plain cheese on the menu, it also has more creative options like the “Calexico,” a take of buffalo chicken, and pizza salad on a warm asiago crust.
The menu also includes salads, cinnamon and garlic strips, and shakes.
“You get a really high quality hand produced individualized product made super fast, at a great value, individualized just the way you want it,” said Svenson. “It’s healthy and it’s delivered in a really cool aspirational environment.”
MOD Pizza isn’t the only fast-casual pizza chain that has attempted to take on the pizza delivery giants in the last decade.
Chipotle has opened seven locations of its own fast-casual pizza chain, Pizzeria Locale. Another competitor, Blaze Pizza, is on track to hit $300 in revenue in 2017.
However, according to Svenson, what sets MOD Pizza apart from the competition is its culture and focus on employees.
The chain emphasises acceptance in its hiring, recruiting people who have spent time in jail and dealt with drug addiction. MOD Pizza attempts to pay employees at living wage, with company minimum wage starting at $10.50.
In addition to other benefits, including paid time off and healthcare, the company offers an emergency fund that employees can tap into in times of need, such as unexpected accidents.
“By virtue of doing that, and by doing that the right way, we’re going to build a better business than we would have otherwise,” said Svenson. “You don’t need to focus just on the profit or just on the business performance. You can also focus on the impact you’re making.”
The company has no plans to slow down following 2016’s explosive growth.
With the new round of funding, Svenson says that the chain wants to continue to expand, throughout the US and internationally (MOD Pizza currently has three locations in the UK). While MOD Pizza has no plans to go public at this point, Svenson says it’s something that the company would only consider as a means to reach more people and share the company’s values.
“We think there’s an opportunity to make a difference in a lot of people’s lives,” said Svenson. “We’re having so much fun, and we’re so grateful for the fact that we’re able to make the impact that we are… We’re going to take it as far as we can.”
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