131 Pizza sliced to sell

first_imgBack in 2009, Emil Parthenides started his independent pizza branding business 131 Pizza on a shoestring budget. He invested $5,000 to see his idea grow legs, with tentative expectations.The business had a simple premise, but a solid one. To give independent and suburban pizza restaurants the same benefits major chains and franchisers get. Mr Parthenides created the 131 Pizza brand based on an easy to remember phone number, linked it to a modern online booking portal and gave them the benefit of a large marketing budget.Now the business caters to 143 stores around Australia, giving rival Dominos heart palpitations. But the biggest success story came two months ago, when Emil and his business partner Paul Economedes received an offer they couldn’t refuse. In July 2014, they sold 131 Pizza to Adelaide company Trimm Equity Group for the whopping sum of $11.5 million. They weren’t expecting to sell so soon, but with the eye-watering sum presented to them, they couldn’t refuse.“We got a handsome offer and we decided to take it,” Emil tells Neos Kosmos. 131 Pizza has been one of the fastest growing companies under Emil. He is also founder and owner of the Australian pizza box company Better Box Company, which has just started distributing to China and was the owner operator of South Yarra’s Gallery 324 and the chain Pizza e Birra. It seems everything that Emil touches turns to gold. 131 Pizza was in fact something that came out of his first pizza business, the Better Box Company.“I saw a need because I was supplying pizza stores already,” he says.“They needed something to take them to the next level. The franchises put so much money into marketing, and when they come into a suburb, they do get a bit of interest (especially the more gourmet franchises) and it takes that little bit extra for independents to be able to compete.”By linking these independent stores while still giving them control over their business, it helped hundreds of small business owners get ahead of the pack. It was slow in its uptake, Emil admits, but once the 131 Pizza name was getting out there and the delivery scooters were on the road, the business kept multiplying. “We acquired the phone number, we made it like a national call centre so when consumers rang they would get connected to their best local pizzeria in their area,” he says. Even those operating under a smaller chain started to defect and take on the 131 Pizza name. Businesses stuck in the old days, without any internet presence, were able to capitalise on the 131 Pizza name and online service, thereby making a seamless transfer online while still keeping their business relatively unchanged. Emil’s philosophy on business is what’s set himself out from the pack. “I like to start a business from scratch, get in and grow your own value to it, without having to spend a lot of money,” he says. He feels he has to make at least “one or two times multiple” on his ventures. A lot of his knowhow in the hospitality business is thanks to his dad. He was a small partner in two manufacturing businesses, chips and confectionery, and Emil grew up understanding what needs to happen to make a business successful.After graduating from university in 2001, he took his first leap buying a patent to a pizza box design that included tear off coupons that was an instant hit with business owners.It adds something that the other pizza boxes don’t do for no extra cost,” Emil says. Now Mr Parthenides is on to his new venture, a grocery delivery service called Grocery Butler.Partnering up with his brother Michael, Emil has used his experience at 131 Pizza to provide the same delivery service for other products.“Apart from delivering pizzas a lot of our clients used to ask us to do the odd thing, can you pick up some milk and bread for me?” he says. Started in December 2013, the online delivery service prides itself on being the fastest grocery delivery service, with most orders delivered to your door in under 90 minutes. It services 13 suburbs in Melbourne, and 23 suburbs in Queensland and is growing. All the groceries are bought in the local supermarket by a Grocery Butler staffer and delivered for a fee of $10.The new venture enters a competitive market of home grocery delivery, but manages to keep the same local and independent heart that was so close to 131 Pizza’s philosophy. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more