Mustafa Mehmood’s time in Canada has been a roller coaster ride. After arriving in Canada from Pakistan four years ago, he graduated from Western this past June, but not without a few hiccups – including being asked to leave the university at one point.
“Initially, it was kind of hard being in a new country, but I got to studying, got the hang of things and that’s when I started working on Novardo,” said Mehmood. Novardo is an apartment building management software program he created that brings together tenants, building managers and corporate managers into an easily accessible and closely knit online community to enhance efficiency. No more running after building managers and filling out forms for tenants, he added.
But this software project consumed him. Mehmood had just finished second year, with a scholarship. He had Ivey Business School on the horizon – but with grades slipping and a lack of attendance in his classes, he was asked to leave.
“That was shocking. It really hit me. It hit me more because of my family; it was the reason I was here, to get my education,” said Mehmood, adding the news hit his mother hard. “She told me I had to get this degree because school is more important. She said, ‘You have to get it done.’ It got to me, because I couldn’t see my mom upset, so I did what I had to do to get back in.”
This one-year education gap took Mehmood to Fanshawe College, where he improved his grades. He was welcomed back to Western the following year. During this time, he kept a strong focus on improving Novardo, of course, which got the attention of a local restaurant.
“I used to come here to eat food and work late nights all the time,” said Mehmood, speaking of Shelby’s Food Express, a Middle Eastern eatery on Horton Street. “They told me they always see me working here all the time, and asked me what I was working on. That’s how we started talking. I told them I was doing software work, and they told me they had an idea.”
Enter Yasser Ali, manager and chef at Shelby’s, and its owner, Yazan El-Shalabi.
Shelby’s launched Feedista (a meal delivery service) last year with the idea of “momma made food” for students, faculty or anyone with a hectic schedule and little time to create healthy meals. Their ‘we cook, you chill’ mantra allows for quick, online ordering and home delivery. With his experience running Novardo, Ali felt Mehmood could step in to help Shelby’s market and make the new program more efficient.
But the trio – Mehmood, Ali and El-Shalabi – wanted Feedista to be more than a business venture. The idea of giving back to the local community needed to be front and centre. So, for every meal they deliver, they ensure a portion of the proceeds goes towards feeding another person in need.
And they want the London community to be part of helping others. The busier Feedista gets, the more potential there will be to assist London charities and those in need.
“We are in this community, we are part of this community, so we want to give back because we have been given so much,” said Ali. “Since we’re in the food business, the best way to give back is with food.”
Mehmood said every couple of weeks, the plan is to visit a new shelter or charity in the London community, donating food and creating awareness that the need for help is year-round.
“Went I went back to Western, got my degree and graduated, that’s when I realized I wanted to help people, I wanted to give back to the community,” he said. “I learned so much here in Canada, and wanted to give back, one way or another. When we do this, we hope to generate interest in others to make a change as well.”
Mehmood is also eager to offer his skills to someone who, like him, may be making the London community home for the first time.
“People who have ideas are usually shut down because of the lack of money to get things going. I want to act as an incubator. My objective is to help them out,” said Mehmood. “It’s something I like to do and if I can create jobs doing this in Canada, there’s nothing like it.
“In a country with so many great ideas, knowing you have the ability to help someone is a great feeling, be it a start-up, helping invest in someone else’s project – or simply investing in them.”
We Cook, You Chill
Feedista, a new local meal delivery service, is all about returning the favour – or flavour – to local charities. A portion of proceeds from their sales is returned to London residents through free meals. To learn more about Feedista, and how you can get involved, email Mustafa Mehmood at email@example.com or visit feedista.ca.