One year behind us, many more to come

Nov. 10, 2002

Much like my wife, my boss has become skilled at reminding me of things I've overlooked, forgotten and/or flat-out ignored.

Despite having three other editors to manage, plus his own gaggle of bosses reminding him what to do, his brain is clearly better at remembering important dates ... like Nov. 5., the one-year anniversary of the launch of PizzaMarketplace.

A lot has happened since we bounded into cyberspace 12 months and three days ago, and as they say, time flies when you're having fun. Covering the pizza business, period, is a gas; covering it on the Web is a thrill that so far has yet to get old.

Steve Coomes, Editor

Many of you know too well the monumental effort required to start a new business. Pushing PizzaMarketplace out the door was no exception. Eleven years in restaurants convinced me that it wasn't the hardest thing I've ever done, but you still won't catch me sitting around reliving those moments fondly.

Like the space shuttle, which spends 75 percent of its fuel tearing free of the launch pad and the other 25 percent poking through the atmosphere, it was an arduous task to get the site going. Before any visitor ever read a word of the site, it had to be filled with stories so there would be plenty to read when it launched. At the same time, dozens more pieces had to be developed in order to maintain momentum in our coverage once we did launch.

Thankfully, that effort is but a distant memory. But does that mean PizzaMarketplace had reached that dreamed-of plane where the crew can level off and still cover this vast industry quickly and effectively?

Not a chance. There's no way to cover this business on the international scale that we do if we switch off the booster rockets and start cruising.

We have in our first year, however, poked a wide hole in the foodservice publishing atmosphere. There's no mistaking which name is recognized as the source for pizza industry news in the foodservice publishing business.

Take a look at some of the giant leaps PizzaMarketplace has made in the past 12 months.

Traffic on our site (measured in hits, visits and pages) has grown six-fold since our launch. In plain English that means PizzaMarketplace's server never gets a rest. Our hits this month, for example, will likely exceed 1.2 million, and I wager we'll laugh at that number next year.

In one year we've published more than 700 articles ranging from small breaking news items to in-depth features covered exclusively on our site. To get those stories we've asked the tough questions about sometimes troubling issues affecting the industry. That effort alone has set us apart from our closest competitors.

We've made it our practice to track publicly traded pizza companies closely by digging into the details of their sometimes-inscrutable financial reports. We've worked to learn and reveal the nuances of the cheese market so our readers could make informed buying decisions about this most important commodity. And our profiles of the industry's movers and shakers have told the tales of leaders who are making it happen at every level of the industry.

PizzaMarketplace has established itself as the only industry source publishing pizza news as it happens, every business day. Delivering breaking news directly to thousands of readers twice a week through our e-mail alerts has become our speciality. None of our direct competitors can match such immediacy and depth of coverage.

And we've only just begun.

Some of the work that remains before us includes:

* Expanding our coverage of the international pizza industry (At least 30 percent of our regular readers are from outside the U.S., countries representing the world's remaining real-growth areas for the pizza industry.)

* Developing free, real-world how-to guides readers can download and use.

* Building a virtual community where operators visit regularly to share and retrieve information.

* Foster more opportunities for interaction between our readers and our advertisers.

Accomplishing those goals won't be easy. In fact, it'll be somewhat like revising a menu in a pizza shop: New items have to be tested, tweaked and tested again before customers get a taste -- and then sometimes they're revised again.

As I've been told by thousands of operators, producing a high-quality product is what brings pizza customers back, and the same rule applies to drawing readers to a Web site like ours.

Well, now it appears my boss is having to remind me about something else: posting this column before deadline.

Keep visiting the site to see what we've got in store the next year and beyond.

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