This is the story of how two determined minds that wanted to launch an idea to modernize a Lebanese traditional food. You can find a Lebanese snack with a twist at M2amara. M2amara is a new concept where food fanatics can enjoy a traditional bagel with more than a dozens of different fillings. Fady El Sayah, Founder of M2amara or mQamara, shares about his extraordinary journey of perseverance in making his dream come true.
We have been into the franchise business since quite sometime but from the consultancy side, through our mother entity Digi Web, we provide business and marketing strategies for big players in the fields of F&B and Real Estate.
When we launched M2amara few years ago, we had as a target to go into the franchising business and for our own brands this time.
Back in 2005, we opened our business and marketing consultancy offices in Dubai and due to my addiction to Movie Theaters, it was hard for me to find some delicious stuff at the concession areas, same was here in Lebanon. So, it popped to my mind why I do not take the old Lebanese bagel or Kaakeh and modernize it in a way to fit for movie theaters.
In 2007 my late wife and I launched the first kaakeh modernized concept and then sold it 3 years later, it did well, but it wasn’t what we expected to have and no one was ready to host the concept at the movie theaters.
Then in 2014, we came up with the brand name M2amara and we reshaped the whole business model, until with many trials and errors, we were able to make it to movie theaters with Grand Cinemas the first network to host M2amara at their premises.
The name is inspired from my hometown Baskinta – Lebanon, where we describe a well baked piece of bread as “M2amara”.
When we applied the name to our concept we noticed that the bagel is moon-looking, especially when is baked, it becomes like the bloody moon.
On top of that, it is a shape-shifter like the moon as it comes in 4 different shapes and with 5 different flour mixes.
The brand logo shows the moon shape, it is bi-lingual so both people who can read Latin or Arabic characters can read it. Also, the logo reflect the composition of the bagel and its filling, whereas:
– Rounded as the moon and dough
– Has sesame on it
– Written in bi-language for ease of pronunciation
– It is surrounded with a non perfect blue circle, to reflect that it is all hand made from dough to baking to filling etc etc.
– As for the colors, we wanted to use an out of the box colors for street food and where we want to show that this concept is for young entrepreneurs who wants to open their own food business at a very affordable investment cost. These colors attracts consumer from all ages and sectors of life.
Also we have a new registered version of the Logo, where instead of number 2, there is a Q for foreign people to read it easily, as mQamara, the Q reflects the melted cheese and or chocolate that spreads out of the bagel after being filled and baked.
All logo shapes are registered trademarks.
Competition is key to look for the differentiating factors in a brand or product. When it comes to M2amara, our differentiating factors are spread across many things:
– Light weight concept, whereas for a very low budget a franchisee can have his own unite and operates it as owner-operator franchisee
– For large or master franchisees, they can cover and open areas so fast, since our concept is very dynamic and fit for all kinds of operations, Food Courts inside malls, all sorts of sports and event stadiums, business towers, alleys inside malls, open spaces and events and many others locations and distribution channels that we worked on.
– The movie theaters operation is on its own a marketing arm for the brand and concept, where we have partnered with movie network operators in the region for this concept. Click here.
– The architectural support and marketing support that we provide through our other sister companies who were essentials in the creation of this concept and made of it a very dynamic one.
– AND The ease of operations and serving, where 90% of the homework is done in a central kitchen and then it take only 2.5 Minutes Maximum for a client to eat from our yummy stuff.
His willingness to operate such dynamic concept and open as much as units either through company owned units, sub-franchising or leasing; and this will be done through an operations and expansion plan that we will put together.
If we are talking per Store unit base, it will take him to sell 10,000 mQamara units with an average of 50 units per day.
As a serial entrepreneur and business consultant who have placed very well known regional brands on international level scale, I have faced so many challenges but my team and I were so happy to see these challenges turn into success stories.
But, M2amara was a very tough and unique one, especially that in the first concept we did, it was so hard to convince movie theaters to allow it to go inside their seated areas or even lobbies.
But back in 2018 and after 4 years from coming with the brand and recipes and all of the operations plan, I made it my vow to bring this traditional modernized Lebanese bagel to theaters and we worked hand in hand with Grand Cinemas and with their regional partners to bring it inside their concession areas.
Sometimes, I wanted to withdraw from the tasting sessions, as the F&B manager of Grand Cinemas was so demanding and picky, but at the end M2amara answered all of his demands. And June 18 2019, was the surprise to see that M2amara was marketed at Grand Cinemas huge LED screen in one of the most luxurious shopping malls in Lebanon.
Once I saw this, I forgot all the days and tastings that took place, since for me, it was a success, for me I completed my vow and for my wife and I we brought the OLD Lebanese Traditional bagel and made of it THE FIRST LEBANESE SNACK to make it to movie theaters and then the sky was the limits.
This is a tricky question, since I do not believe in achievements, I do believe in goals, my life is a like a soccer game, the more I hit goals, the more I look for others to hit.
I am raising my daughters on a motto that I always use and say: “When you admit you succeeded is the time you admit that you failed.”
But this doesn’t mean that I do not have success stories, on the contrary we do have many and several ones in the F&B and Hospitality industry.
Since almost a year ago, I started to play a double role in my life after I lost my wife due to cancer. So my whole life changed and including my business life and between my other companies, M2amara and my family, I can enlist may normal daily activities below in bullet points:
– Early wake up at 4:45 AM
– 5 AM check my emails, reply to clients and dispatch work to my team.
– 6 AM my morning walk in the Majestic Mount Sannine in Lebanon, during this walk I do most of my early business or friends calls.
– 7:20 breakfast with my sweet two daughters, we discuss their daily plan, throw some jokes
– 7:45 AM drop my two ladies at their school
– 8:00 AM back to home, read some business news and look for some opportunities
– 9:00 AM hit the daily work ritual
– 1:30 PM bring the ladies from school , then have lunch with them and help them in their homework
– 4:00 PM receive daily briefings from the team
– 7:00 PM launch the double shift journey as we have clients from across the globe, so my team and I have to e-meet with most of them on regular basis
– 12:00 AM it is time to recharge my body for another second day round.
We have two group of moments:
The first franchising inquiries we got either on Lebanon scale, regional scale and international scale.
Back in April 2020 when M2amara was awarded by USAID franchise program for Lebanon as a franchisable concept and they assigned for it a leading International Franchising Consulting firm. If you may allow me to thank Covid_19 for this, whereas in Nov 2019, we applied to get M2amara granted and endorsed for franchising by the USAID franchise program in Lebanon.
When we applied, i was in doubts that we might get this privilege, since the smallest brand name before us, was worth minimum 1 Million USD in terms of licensing and setup per unit. But for M2amara a 1 Million USD can turn you into a considerable player in Fast Food & Street Food player in any country with not less than 15 operational M2amara POS. I still recall the day Nivine from USAID team called me and asked me if we did any changes in our business model and i confirmed to her that our business model is:
– 70% delivery
– up to 20% takeaway
– and up to 10% dine-in
Two days later, we heard the news and we got approved.
I see it where my wife and I have planned for it and which is not less than 1000 POS in the MENA region.
Each time somebody says no to you, consider it as a thousand yes, since no one knows what is in your head. If I was to give up for each time I heard the no we cannot accept M2amara at the movie theaters, I would not be here telling my story and promoting my brand to become an international player.
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