Naked Pizza: The Trojan Horse of the Pizza Industry


Who doesn’t like pizza? Even the owner of can’t work up ire about his favorite least favorite food. I’m a fan, which is one reason Naked Pizza was among the most captivating components of Val Casey’s keynote at SXSW. Casey discussed the importance of meeting people where they are, when it comes to sustainability, and she used Naked Pizza an example of a business that embodies that motive.

Naked Pizza is a start-up out of New Orleans that was founded by a former anthropologist and a real estate developer  who wanted to do the impossible and make pizza a health food. This wasn’t just about waistlines- the partners realized that making health food delicious and familiar is one of the keys to solving the obesity crisis. Funded by dotcom winner Mark Cuban and The Kraft Group, team Naked Pizza cites a simple equation as its key to success:

All-natural, reduced-calorie, multi-grain, probiotic pizza – preachy brand image  +  Twitter  = Naked Pizza


Naked Pizza decided that rather than trying to focus on changing consumer behavior, they’d change the formation of the pizza itself with probiotics, fiber and skim milk cheese. And, it’s actually not so bad for you, according to the nutrition facts they offer. By meeting customers where they are,  Naked Pizza can get a word in edgewise and start educating its customers about healthy food and food politics *after* they’ve become fans. They call themselves the Trojan horse of pizza.

Beyond just being health food purveyors in disguise, Naked Pizza is the Trojan horse of  the franchise business model. The startup stumbled on a business model that is highly scalable due to its limited menu, delivery model, price point and store size. That’s all good in the traditional franchise sense, but more importantly, Naked Pizza is transparent, a master of social media, and has a social mission. It will impart these values to franchisees, sneaking in a new way of doing business along with god-honest-good-for-you pizza. Naked Pizza shows that fast food doesn’t have to be soul-less and terrible. Just take a look at this excerpt from the company prospectus:

Marry a deep mission, social responsibility, a no-bullshit approach to sustainability with conscious business and fair, unapologetic profitability.Change the way people eat, rock a food industry that abandoned its primary responsibility decades ago, including an opportunistic, often predatory and health-destroying fast-food industry. Reinvent franchising while you’re at it. Oh hell, why not just change the whole business paradigm? A paralyzing global recession seems like as good a time as any to reset the whole damn thing so that the most talented people can contribute to wealth and job creation in ways that benefit society rather than diminish it.

These guys aren’t just turning pizza on its head, they are turning business on its head too.

Jen Boynton

Jen Boynton is the former Editor-in-Chief of TriplePundit. She has an MBA in Sustainable Management from the Presidio Graduate School and has helped organizations including SAP, PwC and Fair Trade USA with their sustainability communications messaging. She is based in San Diego, California.When she's not at work, she volunteers as a CASA (court appointed special advocate) for children in the foster care system. She enjoys losing fights with toddlers and eating toast scraps. She lives with her family in sunny San Diego.

14 responses

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  3. The problem is that the pizza just doesn't taste great. It's not bad, but it's not great. It's about average-tasting for New Orleans pizza (which means below average for real pizza towns). It doesn't taste better than pizza from the big chains, really, so while there may be initial excitement when they open in other areas of the country, I just don't see Naked Pizza making a big splash in the long-term. Then again, if people do really start putting more weight on the healthiness of food then on its taste, Naked Pizza might do very well. I'll believe it when I see it.

  4. Naked pizza may not appeal to everyone but those of us trying to eat healthier welcome a healthy substitute to one of our favorite indulgences EAT NAKED

  5. This organization is a scam that has succeeded in scamming some rich people. The pizza is so-so. The “founder” is a filthy mouthed clown who pretends to be a business person. America is made of better stuff. This company is flotsam that appeared post-Katrina. Eat smart but AVOID these punks.

  6. I agree with this assessment of Naked Pizza. My wife and I went to the new franchise that opened in our area, Cincinnati, put in our order, paid and then waited forty minutes for nothing. They lost our order and tried to make up for it by giving us business cards with the owner’s name on it and “Free L.L. Pizza” written on them. I have never seen such a poorly run pizza place. We ended up cancelling our order and asking for a refund–we also returned the business cards since we have no intention of wasting our time with such a shoddy pizza joint. We were not the only ones that never got their pizzas.

  7. It has the same amount of calories as in a domino’s thin crust, or pizza hut thin crust pizza. And the vegan cheese is mostly made of fats and has just as many calories as mozzarella It’s a better alternative to white flour pizzas, but it’s still fattening as hell. I’d eat it again, but without any cheese at all. I DID appreciate not being poisoned with preservatives and shit.

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