After COVID-19 forced him to cancel a pizza night with friends in March, second-year Wharton MBA student Ben Berman lowered 10 homemade pizzas out of his apartment window to give to his friends.
Soon, the "pizza drops" turned into an Instagram sensation, allowing Berman to raise over $62,000 for local charities by asking for donations to fight food insecurity and homelessness in exchange for the free pizzas. Berman, who is studying healthcare management, said his time at Penn has helped him grow his business through connections with classmates and lessons he has learned in class.
Good Pizza Philadelphia, Berman's business, operates entirely out of his Center City apartment, using ingredients from Whole Foods and DiBruno Bros. More than 1,000 people sign up each week to be entered into a lottery for 20 pizzas which are distributed out of his second-story window. Berman posts on the Good Pizza Instagram when the lottery opens, normally about two days before the drop, and participants must sign up again each week to be re-entered.
Berman initially hoped to raise a few hundred dollars for Philabundance and Project HOME, but a positive feature from celebrity blogger Dave Portnoy on Barstool Pizza Review in November helped Good Pizza raise more money for two of Berman's favorite charities
Overnight, Berman amassed thousands of followers on Good Pizza’s Instagram page and donations poured in from people across the country who were moved by Berman's story.
Good Pizza has since collaborated with corporations such as Hidden Valley Ranch, which donated $100 per pizza and gave out bottles of ranch dressing for every pizza, Berman said. The pizza shop also has an upcoming collaboration with Hormel Foods, which is supplying Rosa Grande Pepperoni and donating $10,000 to Philabundance and Share Food Program under Good Pizza's name.
Berman said Penn has had a huge influence on Good Pizza, from learning about how to gain consumer interest, create demand, and scale operations in his courses, to making his classmates the taste-testers for his pizza.
“[The entrepreneurship] has been a really fun part it, just to build something and grow a brand,”Berman said.
Wharton second-year MBA student Mosum Shah is one of Berman's classmates who was there to experience his first pizza drop.
“[Berman’s pizza] is a perfect combination of fluffy but crispy, and really good ingredients. He spends a lot of time on his dough and you can tell that by the quality of the crust," Shah said. "It’s one of the pizzas that you’re going to remember.”
Wharton second-year MBA student Victoria Shih, who has also enjoyed Good Pizza, described Berman as a helpful and genuine person.
“In school, you can see how much work he puts into his pizza project, and that’s representative of how much work he puts into everything he does, whether it’s a group project or a healthcare business conference,” Shih said.
One of the fun parts about the business is when members of the Penn community try his pizza, including administrators like Wharton Dean Erika James, Berman said.
“It’s been so great to see so many people come get pizza. One of the best parts of the weekend is when a Penn student gets selected," Berman said. "It’s always fun to say hello to people who I know are coming from campus.”