When LeBron James thinks highly enough of your company to be an early investor, you can certainly compete with anyone.

LeBron backed Blaze Pizza ($BLAZEPIZZA) in 2011 and is going to star in commercials for them now. It's all in an effort by CEO Rick Wetzel to take on the reigning champ of pizza chains, Domino's ($NYSE:DPZ), as well as other contenders Pizza Hut ($NYSE:YUM) and Papa John's ($NASDAQ:PZZA). With one famous chain under his belt (Wetzel's Preztels), Blaze is gunning for the top dogs.

I think there is a huge opportunity to go at Domino’s in particular, where their core benefit is convenience; it’s not the quality of the food and I think there’s a lot of people out there that care about fresher food, healthy food or a more artisanal kind of food. We are ready to take on Domino’s, yes! - CEO Rick Wetzel

Using alternative data, we can see how successful Wetzel is in his quest to take on the biggest names in pizza. Here is a map showing the locations of all Domino's and Blaze Pizza's in the nation. Blaze is at nearly 300 locations in the U.S. with 50 more planned for this year. In comparison, Domino's has roughly 15,000 locations globally.

You can see how the longevity of a name like Domino's has paid off; it's implanted in the most rural of areas, while Blaze is focused on more densely populated cities and counties for its business. 

We love to see the lines go up, growth and fearlessness in expansion and hiring are always great signs. In less than three years, there has been a 300% increase in the total number of employees.

The same kind of tripling happens when we look at the Twitter followers and Facebook likes (not listed here). There has also been a 224% bump in the amount of people sharing the URL to the Blaze Pizza menu and website since 2016. 

Blaze Pizza is set to go public within the next three years. But who cares about boring business talk, let's look at some behind the scenes shots of LeBron's new commercial!

About the Data: 

Thinknum tracks companies using information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

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