Ask him, and he’ll tell you. David Cabello just didn’t take too kindly to authority.
He failed two grades, was kicked out of three schools and even dropped out of college his third semester.
Don’t write him off too soon though. David went on to create what outlets are reporting is Philadelphia’s first Black-owned delivery service with his twin brother and co-founder Aaron Cabello. They called it Black and Mobile.
“We partner with and promote Black-owned restaurants to give them an opportunity to expand their customer base and online presence,” David said in an Atlanta Black Star interview this week.
His company, which launched Feb. 22, pairs Black-owned restaurants with customers looking to have their meals delivered.
At one point, the company was delivering for more than 20 businesses and even made its way to the top 7 percent of internet traffic for new Philadelphia businesses, David said.
That success happened in a city with only 2.5 percent of businesses that are Black-owned, according to a Pew Charitable Trusts report released in April.
He said most of his educators were white and just didn’t understand his reality as the child of a single mother.
David said the lack of representation is something he’s felt in more ways than one. He said after being bounced from school to school growing up, he doesn’t remember having any Black male teachers. Most of his were white.
“They don’t understand what you’re going through so they label you as the trouble kid,” David said.
He was held back so many times that he ended up in the same eighth grade classroom as his youngest brother, who’s two years behind the twins.
“That was the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to me,” David said.
He still remembers his peers teasing him.
“After that, I got my act together,” he said.
He never failed a grade again, and he even had Penn State University in his sights. But after realizing how rigorous the university was on a field trip, he just didn’t have the confidence to pursue it.
“I didn’t think I was smart enough,” he said. “I thought I was stupid.”
The entrepreneur now knows that wasn’t the case.
“I’ve always been smart,” he said, “just misguided.”
He got into the state’s Shippensburg University. And even though he spent most his first year on academic probation, he was able to turn his grades around the next year.
By his third semester, David had earned A’s and B’s on his progress report, but he didn’t stay at the school long enough to receive final grades.
“I dropped out that semester,” he said.
The thought of staying in school just to one day be able to pay off student loan debt wasn’t something he could deal with. Neither was the racism he encountered, which manifested in people calling him “n—-r.”
So the day after President Donald Trump was elected in November 2016, David packed his things and left.
His twin, a long-time believer in his brother’s vision, did the same.
They wanted to create a business of their own, one their own community could benefit from.
“I dropped out of college to help Black businesses,” David said.
At the time, he thought that might mean shared ownership of a Black-owned bookstore. But after a falling-out of sorts with the owner, that plan was squashed.
Aaron Cabello said the store owner wouldn’t even pay him consistently.
“He would pay one or the other of us,” he said. “So I stepped back.”
Aaron was expecting a child at the time and needed more dependable work, but his twin brother kept working for the bookstore even though he didn’t live nearby.
David lived with an ex-girlfriend in Coatesville and commuted more than one hour to the store for work.
He also added work for food delivery services including Postmates, UberEats and Caviar, where he was able to make $1,100 in under 48 hours.
So when the prospect of owning the bookstore faded into a blurry background, another option for both twin brothers came into central focus around October of 2017.
That option was Black and Mobile.
“There are so many white-owned delivery services,” Aaron said. They don’t need us to do that. We need ourselves to do that first.”
He focused on listing products and brainstorming with his brother, and David Cabello learned the systems to build his platform.
“When I got home I would research every single night for my business about six months,” David said.
He was staying up sometimes until 4 a.m. before he got his first big break.
Saudia Shuler, owner of the North Philadelphia soul food restaurant Country Cookin,’ gave the brothers a shot delivering for free for the restaurant after a meeting Nov. 1, 2018.
Country Cookin’ has 266,000 followers on Instagram alone.
David Cabello said even though he wasn’t being paid, he recognized the opportunity Shuler’s support presented. He felt like his dream was finally happening.
Then, that same day, he fractured his ankle playing basketball.
“I couldn’t walk for 50 days,” he said.
His entire company was based on the ability to make deliveries using electric bicycles. He was already riding a bike every morning day delivering for other companies, so having to rely on others was a devastating blow.
“I was depressed, miserable, crying,” he said. “It was honestly one of the worst experiences.”
Still, the injury didn’t deter David from starting his company.
He focused more on marketing until he was able to ride a bike again around mid-January.
“In the meantime, we weren’t delivering,” he said. “We didn’t start delivering until February.”
And even though three months had passed since that initial meeting with Shuler, she hadn’t forgotten about the twins.
“She would promote me all the time when no business in the city would even talk to me,” David said.
That relationship put Black and Mobile on the delivery scene in Philadelphia, and Shuler helped the company attract other businesses.
“I wouldn’t be in business probably if it wasn’t because of her,” David Cabello said.
He explained to Philadelphia Magazine that his business makes “it easy to find black-owned businesses — there are no more excuses. We locate every black-owned restaurant and we put them on our site. That way if you want to support them, we’ll hire someone from the community and they’ll bring it to your door.”
Now, the company has been featured by several different media companies from BET to Fox 29.
The twins have raised more than $15,000 in funding already on Kickstarter, and they’re preparing to open 30 positions for a relaunch of their service in September.
David said he’s already gotten 400 applications from prospective employees, and 10 restaurants are listed on the company’s website.
The Caribbean restaurant 48th Street Grill is one of those restaurants.
Carlene Lewis, the business’ general manager, said her company decided to partner with Black and Mobile because “we really admire what they’re doing.”
“They’re doing something that’s not typical here in the community to support Black-owned businesses,” she said.
For David, that support is more like a calling than a business.
“Now I feel like I’ve been called to do everything I’m doing,” he said.