Michael Lastoria is an entrepreneur best known as Co-Founder and CEO of &pizza. He is also a Founding Partner at JWALK, a New York-based full-service creative agency, and the Founding CEO of Innovation Ads, a marketing and media services company.
In 2002, at the age of 22, Michael Lastoria founded his first company, Innovation Ads, an advertising, technology and marketing services firm. In four years, as Founding CEO, he oversaw the rapid growth of the company and its successful sale to Seaport Capital, a New York-based private equity firm, in 2006. Lastoria remained the company's CEO from 2006-2009. Thereafter, he became a founding partner of JWALK, a New York-based full-service creative agency, specializing in fashion, beauty and hospitality. He remains a Founding Partner and leads the company's growth strategy.
The &pizza concept was first incubated in an art studio in West Chelsea, New York City in 2010. In 2011, Michael Lastoria brought this idea to Washington, D.C. to launch a counter-culture chain of elevated, community-based pizza shops. In July 2012, he co-founded &pizza with the opening of the brand’s first location on historic H Street. Every shop is designed with the local community in mind, with distinct artistic and architectural elements that incorporate both the neighborhood’s past and present. &pizza works with local urban artists to commission murals and installations, making each one of their shops unique. The different aspects of each shop are tied together with the brand’s signature black-and-white aesthetic and trademark ampersand motif as key elements of the design.
Lastoria has raised over $60 million for &pizza’s expansion and opened 25+ shops spanning the eastern seaboard. The company's success, he asserts, is built on the shoulders of the company's employees, the &pizza Tribe. They live and breathe the brand and its culture, and some tribe members even tattoo their allegiance in ink; "&" tattoos are offered for free by the brand to its Tribe as a demonstration of its commitment to building a cultural movement, not just a product-pusher. Every shop is different, designed around, with, and inspired by the community it serves, often times incorporating local artists' work into their design.
Lastoria is a recognized startup leader and vocal advocate in the Fight for $15. He speaks regularly on the value of design thinking, innovation and entrepreneurship. Recent appearances include the Fast Company Innovation Festival, Inc. 5000, WeWork Creator Awards and more.
Lastoria has been identified as one of the country's top 25 fast casual executives, and named one of the Washington Business Journal's 40 Under 40. In 2017, he was awarded the Mort Harris Small Business Person of the Year by the Small Business Council of America.
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