1. We're starting a hot sauce company -- and it's primed to be the next biggest brand in the world. Seriously. The Oprah-iPad-Lebron of the condiment world. It's going to innovate how people eat food forever and we'll soon be on the cover of Forbes next to Richard Branson and he's going to be... like... cowering to our creative genius and I'm going to have a badass grin while... you know... sitting on top of a rhino with my pecs rippling - oh yeah, I'm not wearing a shirt... yeah... and we'll look like huge hitters and then we'll get our own Food Network show and then our own movie. Does anyone else hear the Star Wars theme song thundering in the background? I do.
2. Being a food entrepreneur is going to be sweet -- and it's a simple, sure-fire 3-step process.
Step 1: Develop a tasty recipe
Step 2: ???
Step 3: Badass picture on the cover of Forbes
3. As a brand new company, we're a long, long way from Forbes. Sure there's the upcoming rhino and the pecs, but we're in it for the long haul. We're optimistic, driven by a passion for food, and just naïve enough that we hope to influence American eating habits. Our products taste awesome, and our friends seem to like them, so why not try this out - right? Although in philosophy we're no different than full-bellied children who think their mothers should open a restaurant because she makes the bestest pancakes in the whole world, we are also just starting to see the enormity of the challenge of starting a food business. We're terrified. We're pumped. Let's do this.
4. Who are we? We're two normal dudes who became friends in grad school and loved to bounce crazy ideas off one another. We've both previously worked on the periphery of the food world, but lined up more conventional jobs in the business universe after graduation (consulting and internet startup). We are slowly figuring out hot sauce as we go.
5. How did this start? The idea for Bandar Foods, our burgeoning company, started when I asked an Indian restaurant in Philadelphia for hot sauce to spice up my takeout tikka masala and was met with confusion. Wait -was there no Indian hot sauce? But Indians adore spicy food! Lalit, my co-founder who hails from Mumbai, informed me that instead of "traditional" hot sauces, Indians use spicy chutneys called achar (pickles) to spice up their food. These extremely tasty achars are ubiquitous throughout South Asia but are limited in the US to specialty grocery stores. Sounds good - but as a white kid from the suburbs, I was intimidated by these chunky, oily, jarred chutneys. Boom - an idea was born!
6. We are the Indian version of Sriracha Rooster Sauce. Let's turn these flavors into condiments that Americans would actually know how to use and grow into one of the first mainstream Indian-American food brands. Spicy sauce, big dreams. So we pureed the chutneys down and put them in squeeze bottles. We put a monkey on the bottle because, well, monkeys are awesome and we wanted people to remember the product. Instead of rooster sauce, we're monkey sauce.
7. We've been at this for two years to get to Square One. We knew it'd be hard getting into it, but we still didn't expect that it would take us two long years of recipe iterations, FDA research, label redesigns, chemistry tests, business plan redrafts, and borrowed money just to get to the point where we're ready to sell. We are currently raising money by fulfilling preorders on Kickstarter so we can fund our first batch and get started (something we highly recommend to all other aspiring food entrepreneurs). Once we produce our first batch, we hope to push the sauce out through all possible channels.
8. We want this blog to be a live guidebook for the successes and failures of a startup food product company. We'll share interesting stories from farmer's markets to kitchen messes from experimenting with new products. To arrive at our current seedling stage, we've been fortunate to hear tips, tricks, and cautionary tales from other food entrepreneurs which have proven invaluable. We know a number of friends who make awesome popcorn, chickpea snacks, chocolate energy bars, or any of the dozens of jerkies, pickles, salsas, and other artisanal foods. We're learning as we go and want to help any other aspiring founders get off the ground, into the kitchen, and onto the shelves.
9. Please feel free to reach out to us with any comments or questions. We're not always sure what we should be writing about - so please tell us what you really want to hear!
10. Did we mention that we're raising money on Kickstarter?! Check it out and feel free to preorder from our first batch so we can have something worth talking about in this blog! Shameless plug... we know.
NEXT POST: The best ways to get honest feedback from friends about your recipes.
Dan and Lalit