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$14,286 pledged of $224,978 goal
backers
$14,286 pledged of $224,978 goal
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About this project

In the beginning...

I love talking about how Yellowbird Sauce started, because it wasn't a "hey let's start a business and make money" sort of thing. Far from it. I am a spicy food fanatic, first of all. I love food, but I love spicy food waaay more. For a lot of years I turned to the standard hot sauces to add spice to regular foods. You know the list: Tabasco, Chalulah, Sriracha, etc. I tried a bunch of the independent brands as well but I was always disappointed that, the spicier the sauces got, the less actual flavor they seemed to have. Over the years, my tolerance for spicy food went up and my enjoyment of the old standards was going down. It was a sad, sad time!

Early sauce experiments
Early sauce experiments

In 2011 I started fooling around making my own little spicy concoctions one jar at a time. They were...pretty awful at first but I suffered through the experiments as did my girlfriend Erin. I became obsessed with coming up with the perfect recipe. Not only was it important that it have the exact flavor I was looking for, it was also incredibly important that it be made of the best all-natural ingredients and contain nothing artificial. To make a long story slightly shorter, I eventually came up with the recipe that is now (the legendary?) Yellowbird Sauce. 

Real ingredients. Real delicious.
Real ingredients. Real delicious.

Now that I had the recipe, it needed a face. Erin, who happens to be an amazing graphic designer and artist (lucky me!), spent countless hours designing all the collateral for Yellowbird Sauce. Then we had the perfect sauce with the perfect face.

The first incarnation of the Yellowbird Sauce label.
The first incarnation of the Yellowbird Sauce label.
The awesome new labels!
The awesome new labels!

It's all about the sauce

It really always should be, right? Yellowbird Sauce is all-natural AND has a shelf-life of over a year which begs the question "why do other sauces use all the artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, and emulsifiers?" We've done a helluva lot of work developing relationships with local grocers and restaurants and already have an almost rabid following in Austin. Taste it once and you'll see why! 

Erin pimps the sauce at a local farmer's market
Erin pimps the sauce at a local farmer's market
George doling out samples of Yellowbird Sauce at local grocery store Wheatsville
George doling out samples of Yellowbird Sauce at local grocery store Wheatsville

Why I can't do this without you

Here's the part where I tell you why I'm raising money. I made what I believe to be an amazing sauce that I want to share with the world (if they'll have me) and I have had an incredible reception in Austin since I started selling it commercially 7 months ago. I'm at the point now where I have exhausted my personal savings and credit with all the various expenses that go along with starting a business. I am, by profession, a musician and I am still constantly taking gigs all over Texas trying to get together enough money to make the next batch of sauce. It has, thus far, been a labor of love, and one I've been happy to do but the time has come for me to be a full-time hot sauce maker.

Yellowbird Sauce makes the front page of the food section
Yellowbird Sauce makes the front page of the food section

As demand has gone up and up for Yellowbird Sauce my challenge has been keeping up with it. It is not an easy sauce to make. All of the fresh ingredients (carrots, onions, garlic, habaneros, tangerines, and limes) are hand-selected for quality and ripeness and then washed and peeled for each batch. Every batch is slow-cooked for maximum flavor, pureed several times for that deliciously smooth consistency, and aged to perfection. People ask me what the "secret" to the sauce is and there is really no secret...just using the best ingredients and making it with love. In an effort to upscale past just me peeling and cooking hundreds and hundreds of pounds of fresh produce every week to keep up with demand, I have attempted to use the services of companies known in the industry as "copackers". These are people who already have a facility for processing and packaging certain types of food who you can hire to make your recipe in larger quantities. I've run into nothing but problems going this route from extreme production delays to loss of recipe integrity ("hey, you don't mind if we use frozen carrot and tangerine juice right? we can just throw some cornstarch in to thicken it up.") I've worked with several different copackers and talked to copackers all over and this is a common thread. It's not that they are bad people, it's just that they are businesses who are more interested in cutting costs and saving time than making my recipe right. I deserve more than that and so do you. 

The obvious conclusion that I finally came to was that if you want to do something right...well you know the rest. The answer is a mid-size production facility where I can be as OCD as I want about what goes into the sauce and the care with which it's made. Another great aspect of having my own place is that I can make it as green as I want. I've already lined up Austin's top full-stream recycling and compost pickup service for a partnership with this facility. 100% of our packaging waste will be recycled and 100% of our organic waste (vegetable peels and stems) will be composted for use as organic fertilizer. Can your hot sauce do THAT?

THE STUFF

Here is the price list I've put together for the facility. It is the minimum required equipment for starting a facility of this type making this sauce. The budget looks really outrageous but this is what it costs to open a certified kitchen facility and have it properly built-out and permitted. Much of the equipment not listed (sinks, bottle fillers, drum peelers, shelving, work tables, etc) I am purchasing with my own savings and credit but I need help with the expensive equipment and the construction costs. If I make my goal for this project I will order this equipment right away, get moved in, and start making sauce! Any money that is raised in excess of the goal will go towards produce and packaging materials.

-citrus peeler, $8,750

-100 gallon mixer/kettle (this is the most important piece of equipment that will do all the mixing and cooking in one step) $61,858

-walk-in cooler (8x10x8) $4,370

-new space move-in and build out $150,000 (I know this seems ridiculous, but this is what it costs to get it permitted and get it done right. This cost includes plumbing, electrical, installation of kitchen equipment and sinks, permits, grease-trap, and kitchen build-out with the required, washable materials)

Thank you!

This is a labor of love that I am happy to do and I want to give a sincere thank you to all of you who have been such a great support so far (you know who you are). I hope you decide to chip in for this project and share it with your friends and family. We have a long way to go and every little bit counts. Thank you, thank you, thank you, and we'll see you on the sauce aisle!

Coming soon to a shelf near you :)
Coming soon to a shelf near you :)

Risks and challenges

The main challenges with an endeavor of this sort are permits and inspections. Luckily, I was so thorough when starting this business that I already HAVE all of the required permits and certificates.
The main delay will come from the City of Austin. Once I get my build-out plans submitted to the city it can take several months for them to be approved and for construction to begin. Once construction begins, it will be 1-2 months until I can get my health inspection and open my doors. These obstacles are all standard and I will work as hard and fast as possible to avoid any further delays!

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Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    For $10 you get a mention on our website as a donor and a donor certificate and Yellowbird sticker in the mail!

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    You get the above rewards PLUS a 16 ounce bottle of this deliciously spicy sauce shipped right to your door!

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    You get the above rewards PLUS an awesome Yellowbird Sauce t-shirt! All shirts are comfy, high-quality American Apparel.

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    You are too generous! You get the above mentioned rewards but instead of a bottle of sauce, you get a whole case of 12! That's a gallon and a half of the most delicious hot sauce you've ever tasted. This is the "hothead" reward for sure.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    The small business bumper! We're a small business and we know this is a good chunk of change for you. We will provide the above rewards and 20 t-shirts (so you can share the love from our team to yours). Hell, you can do this reward as an individual and just share with your friends! We will also include four tickets to the grand opening party (transportation and accommodation not provided).
    *Sauce and merch will be provided within a few weeks of project completion, grand opening party will be 6 to 10 months off because of permitting and build-out time*

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    I'm going to call this the awesome-face level. All donors at this amount will get the above rewards PLUS we will put you and a companion up in a first-class Austin hotel for the weekend of our new facility opening party (which will be epic-ly Austin). This does not include airfare but does include awesome food and drink and live music!
    *Sauce and merch will be provided within a few weeks of project completion, grand opening party will be 6 to 10 months off because of permitting and build-out time*

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    Now you're just being ridiculous. If you pitch in at this level, you get all of the above rewards plus I will fly you and one companion to beautiful/weird Austin, TX for the grand opening party for our new facility! The party hasn't been planned yet, but we already work with a lot of Austin's most delicious and unique bars, restaurants, and grocers so we will throw an awesome bash. Obviously there will be kickass live music, and amazing food and drink (duh, it's Austin).
    *Sauce and merch will be provided within a few weeks of project completion, grand opening party will be 6 to 10 months off because of permitting and build-out time*

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Funding period

- (30 days)