Welcome back 🙂
It was now getting into the autumn and things were moving fast. I’d registered RocketShip as a business, attended a small business start up course with Broadland District Council and got myself an accountant … Shirley, she was actually running the course and really liked the look of the sauce. We had a chat about my plans and she agreed to take RocketShip on …. she’s been great, and I’ve really appreciated her help and guidance over the last 18 months.
I’d also been in contact with the Trading Standard guys at Norfolk County Council, again very helpful … these various local agencies really want small businesses to be successful. They pointed me towards a website called the Business Companion … it had lots of information about how to label products and getting them to market.
It was time deploy my secret weapon once again 🙂 Caroline gave me lots of help with the label content, allergen advice … working out the QUID (don’t ask! ). I got all the relevant information together and sent it over to Martin at Meantime … he done a fantastic job on the final design for our Original Hot Sauce … I was delighted :-).
So, I had the sauce, I had the bottles, I’d found some shrink wraps to seal the bottles and I had some amazing labels …. time to get producing properly.
I started making batches of about 10-12 at a time … I was limited by the equipment I had, I was using our domestic kitchen equipment at home, but it was fine I wasn’t inundated orders yet lol .. so it wasn’t an issue.
When I registered the business I also logged RocketShip down on the Environmental Health website at Broadland, I’d read up on the requirements and was pretty confident I was doing things correctly. I’d got some excellent advice from another Hot Sauce producer in London Ben from Dalston Chillies … we exchanged emails and he gave loads of help, again someone else I owe a lot of thanks to … if you’re ever eating in BrewDog try Ben’s sauce it’s amazing 😉
I was due a visit from the EHO, a lady called Jane from Broadland DC … she’d called me up and explained what she’d be looking to for .. a lot of what’s required is about documenting what you do, and recording things … well … this is what the ‘day job’ was all about lol haha, right up my street. So I was well prepared with process diagrams, spreadsheets and Word documents. Again, Jane was really helpful … very encouraging and gave me more great advice … suffice to say my good lady wife was delighted with her 5 Hygiene Rating 🙂
Okay .. I was all sorted, I had everything in place apart from one thing …. Customers!!
I’d been giving a few samples away to various places, writing to potential customers, I even had some interest from a farm shop at Wroxham Barns but ….. I hadn’t actually got a sale yet. However, that was about to change.
I’d arranged to have a beer one Friday night with Dan, my ideas man 😉 … we decided we were up for a pizza and arranged to meet at the Redwell Brewery in Trowse, we both like their beers and we knew Brick Pizza had their pop-up there on a Friday. During the day Dan had said to me ‘why don’t you take a bottle of RocketShip with you … see if the Brick guys are interested’ … d ‘you reckon, do you think it works well with pizza? I’d had a couple of pizzas at their restaurant in the city but couldn’t remember if they had any sauces on the tables.
I put a bottle in my pocket anyway, not really thinking much would come of it … I was more interested in having a pint of their West Coast pale if I’m honest! 🙂
Dan and I met there after work and ordered a couple of beers .. if was a nice evening and the Brick Pop Up was pretty busy … after an hour or so we decided to order a couple of pizza’s …. I noticed next to the Brick stand they had some Siracha sauce … I went over to the Brick guys ordered the pizzas and said, in a confident, semi cocky sort of way (not really my style tbh) ‘Do you fancy trying the best hot sauce you’ll ever have’! They all gave me a puzzled look but took the bottle from me – I explained what I was doing, making it locally etc .. Okay we’ll give it a try they said. We got our pizzas and another West Coast and retired to the seating area in the Redwell yard.
Later in the evening I went over to see the Brick guys … I asked them how the sauce was going .. ‘We’ve used it all’! they said … I was amazed, they loved it and so did most of the customers eating pizza, they’d pretty much nailed the bottle. We chatted for a while about the sauce, they really liked the idea it was locally made and had fresh ingredients. My ideas man had come up trumps again 🙂
Dan’s instinct about the sauce/pizza combo was bang on … Monday morning I got a call from Sean who runs Brick to say they loved the sauce and could they have a dozen bottles for the restaurant in the city. I was buzzing, as you can imagine …. my first customer and the sauce had sold itself. To have RocketShip in the premier pizza restaurant in Norwich was pretty unbelievable!
Since then Brick has been a great customer for me, we’ve got an excellent working relationship and they take a regular amount for the restaurant – in fact if I talk to customers who buy or order RocketShip from me they more often than not say they’d tried it first in Brick Pizza .. I owe them a huge amount, massive thanks guys 🙂
So, I was off and running I had my first customer on board and I was chuffed to bits 🙂 If something was going to motivate me to carry on that was it. Next week I’ll tell you a bit more about how I further developed RocketShip and some of the local business’s and producers who helped me, and of course my next big customer 😉