Former Toronto tech employees turn side hustle into full-time job
Two people in Toronto who had been working in the tech sector for a collective 17 years left their roles for their side hustle, and have now turned that project into their full-time jobs.
Super Magic Taste (yes, that's what it's actually called) is a chili crisp company that former Shopify employees Bruno Roldan del Bosque and Steven Michael Thomas launched in December 2021.
Thomas left Shopify in December of 2020, and Roldan del Bosque left in September of 2020.
"Collectively, we worked 17 years at Shopify, seven of which we overlapped and worked closely, in the early days at Shopify," Thomas tells blogTO.
"Before this we were making sauces in limited quantities for friends, and friends of friends, and it grew enough through word of mouth that it felt right to turn it into a business."
Prior to lockdowns, the two had a tradition of hosting big Sunday lunches and dinners, and while they were unable to connect with people through food in person under restrictions they figured sharing the chili crisp would be a good substitute.
"Much like Donald Glover chose Childish Gambino from a random name generator, when I decided it was time to stick a label on our sauces, I used the first letters of my full name as a starting point, Steven Michael Thomas," says Thomas.
"I wanted the business to be fun, light, and just a teensy-tiny bit mysterious, so after three to four minutes of concentrated thinking, Super Magic Taste was born."
The chili crisp is made with gochugaru chili, almonds, sesame seeds, onion, garlic, tamari and not much else. It sells for $14 a jar on their website, which describes it as having "texture, subtle heat, deep undertones of savoury caramelized garlic and onion, and layers of sesame, almonds, and soy extracted in oil over a low heat."
When they first started they sold out regularly, but they've been scaling up to meet demand.
"I remember clearly a stretch where we'd sell one case per week, and that felt really exciting, and then just last week I picked up a skid of chilis at a warehouse in Mississauga for our latest production run," says Thomas.
They're selling Canada-wide, and are hoping to expand into the United States.
"Working at Shopify we were on the journey with all of the entrepreneurs building businesses on Shopify. This was super rewarding in so many ways as we got to see so many businesses grow and thrive using the platform we were lucky enough to help build," says Thomas.
"There is something so fulfilling about making a physical product, especially a food product, where the feedback loop is as simple as someone purchases a jar, tries it for the first time, shares their feedback... stuff like, oh my god, this sauce changed my life, etc... and hopefully orders it again."
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