Jesse Long - The Hot Sauce Co.
Tell us about yourself
For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved spicy foods. It started with drinking tabasco from the bottle as a youth to my ever-expanding collection of sauces and finally grew to me making my first batch of homemade hot sauce in 2015 in my apartment kitchen. I studied IT and worked in the industry for years before I decided to take charge of my dreams and make them a reality. I draw inspiration from lager then life men like Hunter S. Thompson and Anthony Bourdain, who’ve shown myself and countless others that we need to reach for something that really speaks true to who we are and chase it down with everything we have.
Tell us about your business
The Hot Sauce Co. is a premium, straight-up hot sauce company from London, Ontario, Canada. We create nutritionally flavourful products that inspire a bold and healthy lifestyle using all-natural, fresh ingredients. Our products will show you there's no need for funny names and gimmicks, you'll see that flavour and heat are friends with many benefits.
Has your business been impacted by COVID-19?
Everyday in business has its challenges, and with those challenges come a learning opportunity. We launched in February of 2020, so to say we were not affected would be a massive understatement. Our wheels just got turning, we had events and markets booked all spring and summer, all to be shortly cancelled. Which put our entire business strategy into quarantine. So, we pivoted online, built an e-commerce store, and began a heavy push for growth though social media; we started engaging with stores we wanted as vendors down the road, doing giveaways with local influencers, really pushing for people to ‘see’ our products and company any way we could.
By the time we were able to participate in events again we were in a great position to start reaching out to vendors/stores as well as utilize our e-commerce store.
We just never stopped fighting to get our products into as many people’s hands as we could. Since that launch date in 2020, we managed to provide folks with over 15,000 bottles of hot sauce and reached over 100 stores across Ontario!
What services/programs have you utilized at the London Small Business Centre and how have they helped your business?
We were able to utilize the food business accelerator that the SBC was running right after we finished the accelerator that LEAP Junction offered. It was a back-to-back set of skills and knowledge that I credit for the knowhow on running our business the way we do today.
As a busy entrepreneur, what do you like to do when you take a break?
I enjoy camping, hiking, and nature in general as well as spending time making amazing food with people who help me grow as a person.
Can you tell us about an entrepreneur you admire and why?
I admire Andy Frisella. He is about as straight-up as they come, will tell people exactly why the choices they are making will result in a failed opportunity if they are taking the easy/lazy route. I believe we need more people who are not afraid of the truth as harsh as it can be sometimes. “What you're doing in the short term to make yourself comfortable is killing your potential.” - AF
What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur today?
Take your time finding your business. Don’t jump on trends, this work is not easy, you will spend sleepless nights thinking about the business, fail countless times and likely loose “friends” along the way. You need to be positive that this choice you’re making you’re ready to follow through with. Once you find it, be the best you can possibly be at it.
What’s in the future for your business?
In the short term, we are improving production, fine-tuning procedures, and mastering our craft. In the long term we will be building a facility to produce our sauces as well as cultivate land to grow most of our peppers and produce.
Learn more about The Hot Sauce Co.