“The objective was to solve what we saw as a real-world problem with very high potential for innovative solutions.” Sari Abdo, co-founder and CEO of hungerhub
Five years ago, Sari Abdo started hungerhub, a meal delivery solution for offices and the workplace, with a goal to answer a six-word question that is universally asked by workers across Canada – “What should we eat for lunch?”. Catering to the workforce across Canada – Sari’s company sets out on a mission to turn a collective decision into an individualized experience where each person can customize their meals according to their preferences and dietary restrictions.
Prior to starting hungerhub, Sari worked in a typical corporate environment at a major management consulting firm. He recognized that despite a large range of good lunch options in Toronto, workers are often limited by their lunch hours and their proximity to a limited number of restaurants, whether they are located in a food court or across the street.
“When we would have meetings, people would get a tray of sandwiches without asking if anybody is gluten free or allergic to anything, and it wasn't customized or true to what people want to eat or can eat.” He recalled.
Inspired by this experience, Sari and his team found something that has not been previously addressed, and a group of customers who have been traditionally underserved in the catering service market.
“The smaller the restaurant and the more help we can give them, the happier we are.” Sari Abdo, co-founder and CEO of hungerhub
It does take a village, literally. Sari pointed out that one of the factors that has been driving hungerhub’s success is their ability to work closely with local restaurants. Over the past years, hungerhub has successfully developed a close network with small and local restaurants in Toronto. Sari feels it is important to open up opportunities for local restaurants, and keep the community alive - by partnering up with the local restaurants and taking back the buying power from the established corporations.
“We have a couple of very small shops that couldn't do catering before. They didn't think that they could do catering, and just waited for lunch crowds to walk in. And now [these small shops] are able to do catering through technology and a streamlined process, and they're really happy to access new opportunities and a market they previously couldn't serve.” Sari said.
Recognized by Globe and Mail as one of Canada’s Top Growing Companies in 2021 and 2022, hungerhub was able to achieve a handsome 744% growth over the past three years, without any external funding from any venture capital firms. To Sari, credibility and a focus on product market fit are the two most important factors when it comes to hungerhub’s impressive growth.
“Our partnerships with restaurants are really important to us. Obviously, restaurants are the lifeline. Without their food, we couldn't operate. We couldn’t be a company.” Sari adds.
Another key to hungerhub’s success is their high retention rate when it comes to talent, Sari pointed out. One of the most rewarding moments in his entrepreneurial journey, according to Sari, is seeing the company flourish, and witnessing individuals and teams' passions for what they do and translating that passion into a better product that suits hungerhub’s customers.
When we asked Sari about hungerhub’s next steps, Sari pointed out that going Canada-wide is a goal that they really want to accomplish. According to Sari, what hungerhub wants to achieve is to close the underserved gap in the market and bring value to more people in different cities in Canada.
“Going Canada-wide is a goal that we really want to do. We expanded in the last couple of years to Vancouver, to Calgary,” Sari says. “We really think this service brings value to the market. It's working because we can see people are adopting the solution and using it.”
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