The brief excerpt below is from the book; 50 Interviews: Entrepreneurs Thriving in Uncertain Times. The award winning 300 page book includes exclusive interviews with over 50 successful entrepreneurs in a variety of industries.
John Comeau and his wife, Allie, founded Horsetooth Hot Sauce, a retail and wholesale food company, in 2008 in Fort Collins, Colorado. When he was laid off in early 2008, and couldn’t find work, the necessity of making a living became the genesis for his company. John had no prior food company experience, but making hot sauce was something he had always enjoyed as a hobby. His wife encouraged him to start the business, since she had already been self employed for many years. The fact that she is in marketing and copywriting has helped them significantly. John likes the appeal of producing a locally made product. He has two employees, and in the future hopes to expand their product line beyond hot sauce to build a “Horsetooth Foods” brand.
Q: What was your initial startup cost and source?
A: $4k, credit cards
Q: What were your biggest challenges?
A: The health department, and all the licensing required to sell a food
product. Everything from the font size on the labels to having to convince
the FDA that it was not an “acid” food.
Q: What aspects of ownership are the most rewarding?
A: I’d have to say it has been the freedom, but also the joy of selling a
product I really believe in.
Q: Are there one or two things you can attribute your success to?
A: My wife has been the biggest supporter, which helped me push on.
Q: What is the most important attribute you look for in an employee?
A: I look for passion, pride in the product, and knowledge.
Q: Any recommended books or other resources? Do you recommend an MBA?
A: No on the MBA. Michael Gerber’s E-Myth was a valuable book. I learned a
lot through tutorials on YouTube, especially when it came to label and
business card design (Adobe Illustrator tutorials).