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Editor's note: The following information is part of a countdown recap from the inaugural Top 100 Movers and Shakers publication. It was published in 2012. Some of the information may now be different.
New Orleans-based Naked Pizza – with its "LivNaked" mantra – is just a few years old, but is way ahead of the fledgling healthier food trend with its all-natural, gluten-free ingredients. The business got its start around 2006 by four ambitious partners who tapped high-stakes investors such as billionaire Mark Cuban to help get the ball rolling.
In the six years since, the chain has been recognized by publications such as the New York Times and Entrepreneur magazine. Cuban has also taken a more active role in the company, bringing his network and resources into the mix, according to partner Robbie Vitrano.
Naked Pizza's health-focused menu and mission was the differentiator Vitrano, Randy Crochet, Brock Fillinger and Jeff Leach needed to plant the seed. Its social media strategy helped with the germination.
Naked Pizza is up to 7,000 Facebook fans and nearly 17,000 Twitter followers. The business garnered much attention early on when the delivery billboard in front of its New Orleans restaurant was replaced with one that advertises its Twitter handle.
"We've continued to be invited to share our story and lend our point of view relative to social innovation and entrepreneurship, most recently keynoting Inc. magazine's GrowCo and next month at the Social Innovation Summit 2012 at the UN," Vitrano said.
Naked Pizza's customized POS systems can track orders related to social media promotions and can individualize special offers. Each store is equipped with an iPad kiosk for customers to place carry-out orders, tweet to the company and sign up for email newsletters.
Naked Pizza's main niche is its food, with a crust made from an Ancestral Blend of 10 grains, plus prebiotic agave fiber and probiotics (think, yogurt). The tomato sauce is all-natural, spiced and herbed, with no added sugar or citric acid. Cheese is 100-percent natural, rGBH-free, real Wisconsin mozzarella, and veggies are also all-natural, no additives. Proteinson the menu include pork, chicken and beef, all free of growth hormones and antibiotics.
"We intend to launch the world's largest grassroots health movement. We'll do that by making a delicious, affordable, all- natural pizza," according to the company's website.
Naked Pizza also just jumped into the frozen pizza space, adding a retail component to the fast-growing business. The fledgling company has 23 units in the U.S. and the Middle East (five in Dubai), with numerous agreements in the pipeline, including in Beirut, Sydney, Nairobi, Miami, Chicago, Vancouver, Seattle and Philadelphia. India and Australia are also scheduled to get their first Naked Pizzas.
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