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Snippet of WoVen, Women Who Venture: Julia Collins on Why Zume Started With Pizza

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Last Played: November 12, 2021
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Collins entered the tech world after seeing issues in the brick and mortar restaurant structure. Zume sold pizza because it’s a multi-billion dollar industry. Her co-founder created the technology for cooking the pizza while it’s being delivered. Coupled with Collin’s environmentally friendly packaging, the business took off.
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I could have predicted that at some point I would come to Silicon Valley and work on something as innovative and as technology focused a zoom. But at the point that I actually made the decision, it was really unlikely, because with my team, I had just won best new restaurant in America for the Cecil, with chef JJ Johnson, Alexander Smalls and Richard Persons, this incredible team that came together to do something that was unimaginable at the time. I mean, we were a little tiny restaurant in Harlem that won best new restaurant in America that had never been done before. And so in some ways I was at the pinnacle of my restaurant career. But at the same time, I felt like the reality of bricks and mortar as a channel for a restaurant company. E just felt like my impact was always going to be a little bit limited. And beyond that, I just saw fundamental issues with the operating model. For many brick and mortar restaurants, the difficulty of really attracting and retaining talent of compensating people appropriately least rates rising, so occupancy costs, rising supply chain issues. So in my mind, I thought there's got to be a better way, And that sort of place of imagining is what allowed me to take the risk and leave New York City, where I had been for 14 years and moved back to the Bay Area. Can you tell us more about Zoom? Absolutely. So the mission of Zoom was always to rewrite the rules about how food gets to customers and to use technology to create better, healthier products that were also better for the planet. We started with pizza for a lot of reasons, but mostly because pizza's ubiquitous everyone eats it. It's $125 billion a year industry globally, and we knew that by creating this pizza company, we would have the opportunity to build technology that could solve all of the needs in the food ecosystem, and it started with a pizza truck. It started with this innovation called Cooking On Route, which was developed by Alex Garden, my co founder of Zoom Pizza. He had the idea for cooking food on the way to the customer. So imagine if rather than ordering a pizza and letting it sit in the back of somebody's Honda Civic for 45 minutes that pizza could finish cooking just as it arrived to you. That founding piece of technology unlocked a lot of other thinking, including the localizing inventory, including using automation along with humans in the food production process or making robot pizzas. Folks like to call it, including creating packaging that I designed made from sugarcane fiber, just compostable instead of cardboard. So the idea was to begin in this one particular market pizza so that we had a reference point for creating all of this technology, which would eventually and is now beginning to power, really the future of food. And so did it really start with pizza as the wedge in with this broader vision of what could be? That's right. The vision was always to create a company that could completely power the future of the food industry, a better future. But we knew that we had to be focused and tactical in the beginning to create something first that would win the hearts and minds of our consumers. And we began with pizza because we knew that we could make a big impact in that particular vertical
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