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The Winning Franchisee | Coworkers Turned Business Partners Bring New Feel-Good Pizza Brand to Austin

Austin to become home to three new Oath Pizza locations.

By 1851 Staff1851 Staff Contributions
SPONSOREDUpdated 11:11AM 09/22/22

Dilan Karunamuni and Sham Tyagi have known each other for a decade and have since become coworkers and friends. The pair have had an interest in opening a business together for years. Once they discovered Oath Pizza, the better-for-you craft pizza brand, on a trip to Philadelphia, they knew they had to share the brand with their community in Austin.

With their great passion for pizza, Karunamuni and Tyagi are excited to bring their favorite pizza to Austin by opening three locations in a new market for the brand. 

The first location is set to open by spring 2023. Through their business, the pair plans to bring a personalized customer experience and give back to the community that has supported them.

1851 Franchise: Frame your personal story for us. What did you do before franchising, and how did you decide franchising made sense for you?

Dilan Karunamuni: I’ve worked in the technology and systems consulting industry for about six years. I actually work for my partner’s company. We’ve wanted to work together and open a business for a while now, so when Oath Pizza came along it seemed like the perfect fit.

Sham Tyagi: I used to work in retail at Verizon and AT&T, so I had experience working with customers. I eventually ventured into the cell phone business and started my own company. I sold that business to one of my competitors and founded my consulting firm specializing in subscription-based systems for software companies.

Dilan and I knew that we wanted to start a business together, so once we saw a need, we started exploring the world of franchising. Since I had already started a business that I had built from scratch, I wanted a business opportunity with a built foundation. I didn’t want to spend most of my time on marketing, website design and brand recognition. I also didn’t want the trial and error phase. That’s how I knew franchising would work for us.

1851: What was your perception of franchising prior to becoming a franchisee, and what do you want people to know about franchising now that you are in it?

Karunamuni: While I was in college, I worked for big franchises like Dunkin’. So, I have real-world experiences working in franchises, and I felt like I knew the industry well. I knew the owners pretty well, so they shared with me the good and the bad of franchising. Working with a franchise brand allows us to have someone doing the background work for us so we can succeed.

Tyagi: I had some friends and family that had franchised before. So I knew the positives and negatives of franchising. I knew food franchising could have a negative stigma to it and because of that, some of the big food franchises have very stern processes. I wanted to make sure that I chose a franchise that had room for growth and also gave Dilan and myself some creative freedom.

1851: What makes you stand out as business owners in your local community?

Karunamuni: Sham and I are part of the core population in Austin. We are young professionals around the ages of 30 or 35. We can relate to a lot of the demographics in the area. We can understand the customer base, and I truly think that will stand out.

Tyagi: I think that there are two important things that will help us to stand out. First, our product. You have to be able to consume the product and be passionate about it. Pizza was that product for me. I discovered Oath Pizza in Philadelphia and was completely blown away by the product. I instantly called Dilan and said that he had to try the pizza. And ever since then, every person I have told the pizza has fallen in love with the brand. Second, you have to give back to your community, and we plan on doing that. You don’t want to just be another nationalized franchise. You want to give back to the people who are coming into your store. It’s a give-and-take relationship. You have to be able to do things for your community and help contribute to community development. We also plan on interacting with the customers in a way that isn’t just ordering food. We truly want to build a relationship with our customers and our community.

1851: What made you pick this brand? What excites you most about this company?

Karunamuni: We were so blown away by the food, brand, store and look. It was so good, and I even brought some home for my family to try.

Tyagi: We picked the brand because of a couple of things. The Oath Pizza process is very streamlined. Before discovery day, I already loved the product, but I didn’t realize all of the little things that go into making the creation process efficient. Their processes were optimized to the point that creating the product is simple, allowing employees to focus on the customer.

1851: What do you hope to achieve with your business? What are your plans for growth? 

Karunamuni: We do eventually want to expand past our three stores. We have big ambitions for ourselves and this brand. Once we get a feel for our first location, we will look into other areas near us and maybe even other states. Oath Pizza is truly a brand you can take anywhere.

Tyagi: Our main goal for the first couple of years is to get the people in Austin to try the product. This is definitely a product that we can expand to other cities and even other states like Florida and Colorado in the future.

1851: What is the one thing about your story you want us to know?

Karunamuni: I’m originally from Sri Lanka, and I moved here when I was 20. I moved here and went straight to college. I dreamed of being in the shoes that I’m in right now. I worked really hard to make sure that I could achieve all the goals and dreams I had for myself. I didn’t think getting into a business would come soon, but now that it’s happening, I’m excited to build it, and the best way to do that is to create an atmosphere and product that customers love.

Tyagi: We truly have a love for the product and we aren't just in it for the profits. We found this brand because of our love for it, and we wanted to share it with people in Austin. I can’t wait to share it with my friends and family here. I honestly think I’m more excited about that than making money.

1851: What advice do you have for other people thinking about becoming a franchise owner?

Karunamuni: We are still in the early stages, but from what I can tell, it’s important to do your own research and make sure you have a great understanding of the product you are selling. You also need to understand the brand that you are singing with.

Tyagi: Don’t just get into it for the sake of making money. Do it for something bigger. You should be invested in the product and the success of your business and your employees. You aren’t going to be there 24/7, so the only extension of you that you have there is your employees. Work to make your store atmosphere healthy. Reward their hard work and effort. If you pay attention to those two things, you can grow.