Nabil Fahel goes by another name: 'Hummus Escobar.'
It's a name friends gave the founder of local hummus subscription service Black Market Hummus.
"We're trying to – to sound cheesy – make food great again," Fahel said.
It started with his mother's hummus. Working and running restaurants for the greater part of 30 years, she "mastered the craft of making a couple of dishes unbelievably well," he said.
After Fahel moved to Kitchener in 2005, he would bring samples of hummus from his parent's house in Richmond Hill, and share them around at work or at parties with friends and coworkers.
'From the hard chickpea to your office, we control every part of the process as a company.' - Nabil Fahel
His back-alley business started on a business trip to New York City, trying to impress a potential investor.
"I thought how do I get this woman, an investor in New York, a woman who has it all; how do I get her a present that she'll remember," he said.
"Ultimately it led to her saying it was the best hummus she'd ever had."
An entrepreneur at work
During his onboarding at Shopify, Fahel was tasked with creating a functioning website for a product, any product.
Considering the popularity of his mother's recipe, he asked, "why build a fake site?"
"I built the site in a day," he said.
With his mother's support, he launched Black Market Hummus.
His simple one product platform started earning a profit in its first month. Today, with five employees, the small and mighty Black Market Hummus team makes regular deliveries to a number of tech startups, labelling itself the first ever hummus-as-a-service company.
"Software-as-a-service is widely known and becoming a predominant business model that even the largest tech companies are adopting," he explains. "I believe we're the first hummus-as-a-service company in the world."
The subscription based deliveries for each seven dollar tub go out regularly, and have noted interest from companies like Miovision and Google.
"From the hard chickpea to your office, we control every part of the process as a company," Fahel said.
From back-door to big deals
The business exclusively delivers to offices, something Fahel said is designed to preserve freshness.
"We deliver it less than 24 hours after its produced. No other hummus company in the business is doing that," he said.
By only delivering to offices, they can guarantee that there will be someone on hand from 9-5 to receive the order, minimizing delivery failures.
It's not the only thing he believes is unique to his business in the 600 million dollar and growing industry.
"I can tell everybody that I'm having my mother cook for them," he said. "I don't think many corporations can say that."
While he didn't intend for it to be a big business, Fahel said he's not surprised by the popularity.
"It's vegetarian, it's a dish anybody can eat it, and when it's done right it's incredibly tasty," he said. "At the end of the day, I was having fun, and the community responded."