ANTIGONISH, N.S. — Google has spoken.
Peace by Chocolate is officially the National Hero Case in the multinational tech-giant’s Grow with Google program.
Grow with Google provides a platform for people looking to gain new skills and training in their career though search, advertise and productivity tools, as well as training videos and events all available online.
“I couldn’t believe it,” says Peace by Chocolate founder and CEO, Tareq Hadhad. “We’re still a new business considerably, and there are so many other businesses within Nova Scotia and other parts of the country that have been here for a long time and who are hiring people and expanding.”
The economic impact that Google has had on businesses like Peace by Chocolate was written into a report by Deloitte last year.
The 2017 report, which was commissioned by Google, measured its economic impact by looking at how businesses which regularly used Google applications ended up generating between $10.4 and $18.5 billion that year. According to the report, this economic activity is the equivalent of 112,000-200,000 full-time jobs.
Grow with Google was built off the strength of that report, and there was a call for submissions from Canadian businesses to be selected as Google’s National Hero Case.
Hadhad submitted his case last summer, and the response was immediate.
“Within a few minutes after I submitted my email to Google, they emailed me back and said that we had a great chance to be the national hero case for Google in the campaign that they are doing,” says Hadhad.
Peace by Chocolate was chosen and can be seen on the Grow with Google website masthead. Hadhad says he didn’t realize his face would be on everyone’s phone screens.
“On Saturday at 1 am., a friend from Ontario texted me with a screen shot that he took,” says Hadhad laughing. “He said, ‘Are you invading our cellphones?’.”
The story of Peace by Chocolate’s rapid growth starts in a kitchen.
Shortly after arriving in Nova Scotia, the Hadhads attended a potluck dinner hosted by members of their new community in Antigonish.
Tareq’s father, Assam Hadhad prepared the kind of treats he once shipped to countries all over the Middle East from his factory in Damascus. Not long after, the Hadhads were selling 200 pieces of chocolate every week at the Antigonish farmers market.
That was in 2016.
In 2018 Peace by Chocolate is being sold with over 400 vendors across Canada and are shipping hundreds of thousands of chocolate products every month.
Peace by Chocolate has won a shelf full of accolades already, including a Startup Canada award in 2017 and the $20,000 Now! Nova Scotia Good News Award in 2016.
“The early stages were built on perseverance and the determination of my family to give the town a taste of what we were making in Syria,” says Hadhad. “None of them would believe you if you said that in 2018 it would be like this.”
Such a different feeling to wake in the morning, and found that I am on a national masthead on YouTube across Canada. Thanks @Google— Tareq Hadhad (@TareqHadhad) September 22, 2018
Wherever you are in Canada, open your YouTube app and check out our hero video on the top of the homepage. All the love! pic.twitter.com/89pqifYwKl
It didn’t happen by accident.
“I was really doing a lot of online research,” says Hadhad about the early days of the company. “We had a list of the things we’d need. Tools, moulds, the special freezers, and registering the business. ... Always searching for vendors, supplies, distribution networks and looking at ideas for startups.”
Google’s search tools played a big part in connecting the Hadhads with everything they would need to expand, and its advertising tools helped drive traffic to their home.
“That’s how we were inspired to move from the house,” says Hadhad. “People were driving from New Brunswick, Pictou and Halifax coming to see us. We were selling chocolate from the house.”
Peace by Chocolate now operates out of a factory just outside of town in Antigonish county. The factory employs 35 people and is looking for more to meet the increased demand.
“We’re still waiting for the new machines to arrive in the next couple of days, so we’ll be requiring more employees,” says Hadhad.
“I am honoured with everything that has happened so far. And it just gives a sense of what this country stands for. There is massive opportunity for everyone to startup.”