Although Ilir Sela spent much of his childhood hanging out in his friends’ and family’s pizzerias, he didn’t follow his father and grandfather in pursuing a career tossing dough and ladling red sauce.
Instead, in 2003, a year after graduating from the College of Staten Island, Mr. Sela founded Nerd Force, a tech support company.
Over the subsequent decade, however, he saw online ordering increase in popularity via platforms like UberEats and GrubHub, which merged with the online food ordering platform Seamless in 2013. National pizza chains were growing their businesses through digital means, too. He realized there might be an opportunity for family-run businesses like his own.
“You had Domino’s, Papa John’s, Pizza Hut,” Mr. Sela, 38, said, “but there was no brand representing the local independent pizzerias.”
So Mr. Sela combined his upbringing and his expertise to create Slice, an online food ordering platform for independent pizzerias, particularly in smaller cities where large-scale delivery services are scarce.
Over a cheese pie at Joe & Pat’s Pizzeria and Restaurant on Staten Island, which he has frequented for decades and which is now a Slice client, Mr. Sela recently detailed his path to becoming a third-generation member of the family industry. After selling Nerd Force in 2008 for $500,000, Mr. Sela shifted to building websites for the pizzerias of his family and friends. As he did so, he began to notice a change.
“I started hearing, ‘Hey, can you do online ordering for me? Can you build an online ordering system?’” Mr. Sela said.