Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Robin Rosenberg, founder of Bobbie's Boat Sauce, located in Portland, OR, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Bobbie's Boat Sauce is a tomato-chili sauce flavored with aromatics, fish sauce, and lime. It's a spicy, tangy, and umami burst of flavor for just about anything that goes in your mouth! I created it on a sailing trip, with just ingredients I had on hand to go with some freshly caught fish. It was so good and versatile that I kept making it and tweaking it until I had a product.
Many people find Boat Sauce because they are intrigued by the name and label and become hooked on the bold flavors that blend so well with just about any cuisine. I have two different heat levels. My Classic sauce especially appeals to people who like some heat but not super spicy foods.
Tell us about yourself
I've spent my professional life with dueling careers in food and marketing. In my 20's and early 30's, I worked in restaurants and went on to open two cafes in Portland. In my mid-thirties, I pivoted to work in advertising, specifically working with Creatives. In a way, Bobbie's Boat Sauce is the intersection of my personal Venn Diagram: food, creativity, and entrepreneurism.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Great question. I don't often take time to reflect on my accomplishments. I just started selling Bobbie's in Central Market stores in Texas. I am so excited to get on shelves in a great family of stores in a brand new region.
I love each and every time that someone new discovers Boat Sauce for themselves. I want people to have the same thrill of experiencing a whole new flavor profile that I had when I first created it.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
As a solopreneur who wears all the hats, it feels like you have to be an expert in all aspects of your business, which isn't how we are built. Right now, I'm trying to pinpoint the areas where I need more support, but growth is always a chicken-egg process. It's hard to ask for help or even articulate your needs when you are in the weeds on a problem.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Start where you are, and know that you will make mistakes. I started Bobbie's when I had a full-time job, so I went straight to a co-packer for manufacturing. There are pros and cons to every path you choose, so accept that there's no one right way to launch your idea. Find the best way for you that doesn't plunge you into debt.
- Find mentors, peers, and collaborators. Talking to people who are a few or multiple steps ahead of you is essential. Not so much in the "do this / don't do that" sense (see tip 1), but as a way to better understand the landscape and what your own skills and talents can bring to the table. I have learned in the CPG world that my "competition" is my community more often than not. Make friends. Hold up others. And make time for people who are a few steps behind you.
- Remember that the success of your business isn't a referendum on your worth as a person. For me, that means needing to take breaks from social media when I feel overwhelmed by the urge to compare my success to others.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email email@example.com; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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