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Debate: To Franchise or Not?

When it comes to growing a business, franchising is often the quickest way to scale, but is it the best option for all brands? Two experts, one who franchises and one who doesn’t, will debate the pros and cons of both options.


Michael Lastoria | Co-Founder, CEO and Creative Director | &pizza

Michael Lastoria is CEO & Co-Founder of &pizza, the first Washington D.C. based fast-casual pizza concept rapidly expanding in the Mid-Atlantic region. He set out to create a different kind of pizza shop – one where experience is the focal point. Every shop reflects the culture and people of its neighborhood and quality ingredients are combined in inventive ways. An entrepreneur at heart, Michael began his career in 2002, founding Innovation Ads, a leading marketing and media services company. Michael has also founded several other notable performance-based advertising and hospitality companies. His ventures have received national recognition including features in Entrepreneur Magazine and a variety of entertainment publications.

Jim Mizes | CEO & President | Blaze Pizza

Jim Mizes is President and CEO of Pasadena-based Blaze Pizza, LLC. Jim has spent more than two decades building restaurant brands, including Taco Bell, Noah’s Bagels, Jamba Juice and, most recently, as President of Freebirds World Burrito, LLC. Jim joined Blaze Pizza founders Rick and Elise Wetzel in June of 2013 to help build the fast casual artisanal pizza brand. At the time, Blaze Pizza had two restaurants. Today it has more than 200 locations across 32 states and Canada and will end 2017 with about 250 restaurants. Jim earned a B.A. in Economics from Dartmouth, and an MBA from what is now UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.


Justin Mink | SVP of Franchise Brands | Scorpion

Justin Mink is Senior Vice President of Franchise Brands at Scorpion, where he focuses on expanding the company’s national business across various industries. Before coming to Scorpion he served in founder and executive roles for a variety of technology and marketing companies. Justin was the Chief Marketing Officer at New Frontier Data, a provider of real-time data and analytics for legal cannabis operators and investors. He also served as co-founder and VP of Strategy at Music Audience Exchange, National Director at ReachLocal, and Brand Marketing Lead at Gannett. Justin has a B.A. in political science from the University of Mary Washington.

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