Students walking past the intersection of College and Wall Streets this past Thursday afternoon were greeted with free pizza and the image of a pepperoni slice painted on a red Lamborgini.
Representatives from Push for Pizza, a pizza delivery app developed in August 2014, arrived on campus Thursday as a part of a promotional tour covering 70-plus colleges. The app, which recently launched in New Haven, allows students to use one platform to place delivery orders with five different New Haven restaurants — Wall Street Pizza, Avelino’s Pizza, Westville Pizza, Planet Pizza and La Vero. Founder Cyrus Summerlin said Push for Pizza partners with local pizzerias that already provide online delivery services. But, students using the app can bypass online order forms and submit a delivery request with the push of a few buttons, Summerlin said. He added that the order would also cost the same to the student as before.
“Basically our app in theory is a competitor to the Domino’s app,” said Summerlin. “In theory, our app is much better and much simpler than [that] app and we get better pizza from local pizzerias.”
The Domino’s app allows users to customize and order their own pizzas from the pizza chain restaurant.
Summerlin added that Push for Pizza takes around eight to 15 percent commission on orders placed through the application, but the startup hopes to attract local pizza stores by simplifying the delivery process and, in doing so, boosting their delivery sales. Ahmed Mohamed, a manager at participating Westville Pizza, said his pizzeria chose to participate as means to connect to potential new customers.
Several students interviewed said they would consider downloading the app, but noted that several good pizza options — notably BAR, Yorkside and Brick Oven — already exist within walking distance from most areas on campus. Sarah Cohen ’18 said she already has several preferred pizza locales in the Elm City. But, she added that she appreciates that the app aims to simplify a process that would have otherwise included phone calls or online forms. Even though she said she might use the app, Marisa London ’18, a student living in Pierson College, noted that she does not find visiting a particular pizza parlor, such as BAR, inconvenient if she is craving a slice.
“I would love it if BAR delivered,” London said. “But I can normally walk to it when I want it.”
Other students interviewed also said that they would not be placing orders through the app because of convenient, pre-existing pizza preferences. Edward Maza ’18, an Ezra Stiles resident, said the quality and proximity of Yorkside and Brick Oven pizza made delivery unnecessary for him. Joel DeLeon ’18 stopped by the Lamborgini on Thursday afternoon for a free slice of pizza. He said he enjoyed the pizza and the presentation, but that he will continue ordering pizza from Papa John’s because of the 50 percent student discount that the chain restaurant offers Yalies.
While Summerlin is excited about the app’s presence in the Elm City, he acknowledged some significant challenges Push for Pizza could face — namely the popularity of many well-known New Haven establishments, most notably Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria, that do not deliver and thus could not be included as one of the options on the app. Sally’s Apizza in Wooster Square and Modern Apizza on State Street are two other well-known, Zagat-rated pizza parlors that do not come under the app’s umbrella of restaurants.
Summerlin said he also found Yale’s policy restricting brand promotion on campus to be stricter than that of other colleges. As a result, he said, Push for Pizza did not partner with any startup clubs on campus, as they did at the University of Maryland College Park, where he said the app found the most enthusiastic student responses.
“At most campuses we partner with entrepreneurship centers on campus because they really like our story and that we are college-aged students,” Summerlin said. “Yale has been around for a long time and they have a certain image that they have to uphold and I understand that.”
On any given day, 13 percent of Americans will consume pizza, according to a 2014 USDA study.