Objects! with ShipHero talks with the entrepreneurs, innovators and idealists that put items on the shelf and bring packages to your doorstep. From hot sauce to board games, toothbrushes to frying pans, startup side-gigs to enterprise players, join ShipHero founder, Nicholas Daniel-Richards, as he demystifies the manufacturing and logistics behind some of our most beloved household objects, with transformational ideas that are guaranteed to make you say, why didn’t I think of that?. This fast-paced and intriguing podcast covers thousands of travelled miles in less than an hour, so next time you’re standing in your local store and see a label that says ‘Made in ’, you’ll know just how it got into your hands.
Objects! with ShipHero discusses in detail what it takes to transform an intangible idea into a tangible object that is designed, sold, manufactured, shipped, and delivered in the digital world. If you are a successful entrepreneur looking to grow or an aspiring innovator with an idea, Objects! with ShipHero provides a detailed, 360′ exploration with the masterminds behind modern ecommerce and shipping solutions. So settle in, buckle up, and prepare to get objectified! … no wait, not that. Get ready to say “I objects!”… we’ll work on it. Available on iTunes and at this link.
Episode 1 of Objects! with ShipHero gets a wee bit spicy with Bayou Gotham founder Scott Bellina. In this episode, Scott and ShipHero founder Nicholas Daniel-Richards answer fiery hot questions like: How do you run a kickstarter campaign for a new hot sauce company during a quarantine? What does it take to switch from digital brand strategist to hot sauce entrepreneur? Is it possible to make and sell authentic hot sauce out of an apartment in New York City?
Who is Scott Bellina?
Grandson to the founder of the famous Crystal hot sauce brand, Scott Bellina was born and raised on the Bayou (shoutout to our Creedence Clearwater Revival fans). The first 20 years of Scott’s life spent working in a Louisiana grocery store so ingrained the taste and heritage of the local cuisine into his heart and soul that the man practically bleeds crawfish gumbo.
How did this all start?
Since moving to New York City, Scott found success in digital marketing and brand strategy, and he has owned and operated his own agency for the last ten years. However, when work began to slow down in 2019, Scott was forced to evaluate alternative options and seek out other sources of income, and that is when his Bayou upbringing called out.
Starting with the simple question, ‘has anyone ever tried to make a hot sauce that tastes exactly like seafood boil?’, Scott spent the cold winter months doing nothing but taking trips to the grocery store and experimenting with hot sauce recipes in the kitchen of his NYC apartment. His home-made hot sauce quickly found a rabid fan base amongst his friends, family and colleagues, and he realized that this unconventional approach to hot sauce could be a hit.
What is Bayou Gotham Hot Sauce?
In March of 2019, Scott embarked on the bold journey from making hot sauce to making a hot sauce company, and he launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for his hot sauce brand, With a fundraising goal set for $25,000. Scott recalls that at this time he didn’t even have a name, logo, design or bottle, but in creating the brand while simultaneously running the Kickstarter campaign, he was able to craft and perfect the brand and recipes with constant feedback from his audience of investors. After running the campaign for about nine months, and through a quarantine no less, Scott was able to raise just shy of $32,000.
Bayou Gotham Hot Sauce is an homage to both Scott’s Bayou roots as well as his New York home, and to date the brand has two collections: The Bayou Collection is cajun-inspired flavors, and the Gotham Collection is flavors inspired by the boroughs of NYC where Scott lived; but these are not your typical hot sauces, as Scott has made sure to put his unique mark on each flavor. For example, the Ruby Rebelle may be the most similar to his grandfather’s traditional recipe from 1923, but forever the rebel with a cause, Scott introduced barrel-aged bourbon to kick it up a notch. Another example is his most popular Bayou Bourre Louisiana Boil, which tastes exactly like a seafood-boil-in-a-bottle and has corn and potatoes in the sauce!
After raising the money, how did you spend it?
With $32,000 in the bank, Scott had to determine how to allocate the funds for his business. He decided that a proportional breakdown would make the most sense and he calculated the following:
- 75% allocated to manufacturing hot sauce, both inside the bottle and out, including research, testing, etc.
- 12.5% allocated to Kickstarter fee, credit card fee, and taxes
- 10% allocated to shipping and fulfillment
- 2.5% allocated to merchandise AKA swag; it’s worth pointing out that Scott noted that people would have been delighted enough to just receive the hot sauce and the funds for swag could have been better utilized
Scott notes that he did not fully measure the costs for shipping and fulfillment, and attributes the unanticipated costs to the specialty box and associated tools for shipping his hot sauce bottles. Hindsight 20/20, Scott says that he would have set a higher goal if he had known of these costs prior.
What is it like to start a food company?
Scott points out that compared to tech companies where clients want instant gratification, the food industry moves at a slower pace. In order to use his time more wisely and focus on developing the brand and recipes, Scott employed the help of a co-packer, which is a commercial kitchen that cooks and packs the hot sauce for the company.
Upon approving the recipe, which alone took six to eight months, the co-packer needed to decide if they even wanted to work with Scott and his hot sauce company. Being new and unproven in the industry, Scott was the low man on the totem pole and had to contend with the co-packers much larger and more established clients. When the co-packer finally agreed to work with Scott, it took another three months to figure out pricing. Once the pricing was sorted out, it took another three to four weeks to order fresh produce; a time-consuming process to say the least and the pandemic certainly didn’t help.
Another thing Scott had to contend with is the regionalized nature of food consumption; people in NYC want NYC products, people in Florida want Florida products, etc. Bayou Gotham Hot Sauce is from all over the map, and Scott hopes that will help him in the long run.
Scott originally decided to try to get his product into specialty stores like small BBQ grocers, then moving to chain grocery stores and finally Direct-to-Consumer (D2C). But since the pandemic, this model has shifted in his mind, and he sees his future being e-commerce and D2C.
What has been your strategy in dealing with the pandemic?
Scott mentions that his customers understand that delays were inevitable during this unprecedented time, and people just want to know it’s happening. Scott provided consistent communication and transparency through his social media platforms and email. During the Kickstarter campaign, Scott was giving updates every four to seven days, but when things were getting held up, Scott took the approach to update his customer base once a month. Scott notes it’s difficult to give an update when there’s nothing to report, but it’s necessary and the customers deserve it.
Recently, Scott held a party at a local bar to raise additional money and eat some spicy foods.
As an update, the first shipment of Bayou Gotham Hot Sauce was made available in September 2020. The crate that went to your humble host, Nicholas Daniel-Richards, was promptly devoured with more on the way. Thanks for listening to Episode 1 of Objects! With ShipHero, see you next time!
Do you have an idea that’s been gnawing at you? You are living in an era that is full of ways to convert that idea into a viable business. The reality is there’s no magical five step program, and we’re all making this up. However, there’s lots of tools, resources, and fantastically passionate and smart people that we can all learn from who are building all sorts of new brands and yes, ShipHero gets to do the shipping.
If you have an object that you want to profile, send a note to Nicholas Daniel-Richards to firstname.lastname@example.org – we’re always on the lookout for a new object to cover. For more info, episode details, and links to the stuff we discuss, visit https://shiphero.com/podcast.
The Objects! With ShipHero podcast is brought to you by ShipHero, the leader in ecommerce order fulfillment services.