“There’s something, I think, in the cultural
zeitgeist where, when you put the word ‘robot’
next to the word ‘pizza,’ you create the sexiest
combination of words ever.”
—JULIA COLLINS, ZUME PIZZA
Located in geek-chic Silicon Valley, Zume
Pizza has no storefront, but it does have an
engineering lab and a team of robotics experts.
And, thanks to a specially designed algorithm
that tracks customer preferences, co-founders
Collins and Garden usually know what you
will order before you do. But Zume is no
cold, impersonal culinary dystopia with food
that’s one step above a storebought pizza kit.
“We’re a food company first,” Collins says.
“Everything we do from a tech perspective is
in service of giving people the most delicious
pizza at a fair price as fast as we possibly can.”
Collins, a passionate foodie who holds
degrees in biomedical engineering from
Harvard and business from Stanford,
learned foodservice while working for New
York-based Shake Shack founder Danny
Meyer “back when we had just one shack,”
But Collins missed her West Coast life and
was looking for a reason to return home. She
found one when a friend introduced her to
Garden, the former president of Zynga Stu-
dios, a leading game developer. “From our first
conversation, we knew we were going to work
together,” she recalls. “We had a lot in com-
mon, and we had complementary skill sets
that would make us a pretty formidable pair.”
They also had some unusual ideas that may
revolutionize the pizza industry.
Chef Aaron Butkus (right) joined Zume Pizza after serving as sous-chef at Roberta’s Pizza in Brooklyn, New York. Co-founder Julia Collins describes him as “the sole architect” of Zume’s pizza recipes.