In our brand spotlight, we feature Abound brands who are ready for retail. This week we sat down with Eyal Goldshmid, co-owner of Fat Cat Gourmet Foods. Fat Cat Gourmet Foods sells flavor-forward hot sauces, is based in Orlando, Florida, and has been in business for ten years. Shop hot sauce here.
Abound: Why did you decide to start this business? Why this business and not a different one?
Eyal: We love to grill and entertain and have always made sauces for the food we grill. Our friends and neighbors always raved about our sauces when we had them over and some even asked us to make extra so they could use them at their own cookouts (as their own “special sauce,” if you will). It seemed a natural next step to see if we could make a business from it. Plus, we love cats and felt the “Foodie + Cat-Lover” demographic was an untapped market.
Abound: How did you make your first prototype? What changes have you made to your product since then?
Eyal: Our first prototype was made in our kitchen from a family recipe. From there we had to commercialize it and figure out how to keep it tasting “homemade” through the scaling process. This caused us to make some adjustments here and there, to ensure certain flavors came through in high scale ratios, though for the most part the recipes are still pretty close to what we started with.
Abound: How do you make your product? Yourself? A manufacturer? What’s your process like?
Eyal: We currently co-pack our products at a nearby facility. They were crucial in helping us ensure consistency from batch to batch, which was a challenge early on.
Abound: What’s your day to day like? Do you have any favorite and least favorite parts?
Eyal: Each day is different and brings new tasks and challenges. Naturally the best part involves creating new products as well as working with our retail and wholesale customers to build our brand. The worst part involves putting stickers on things, lots and lots of stickers.
Abound: What was your initial investment? How did you get the money?
Eyal: We invested around $50,000 of our own money to start.
Abound: Where was the first place you started selling your product?
Eyal: We first sold at area farmers’ markets and festivals and a few local specialty shops.
Abound: Where do you sell your product now?
Eyal: Our products can be found all over Florida and online, including supermarkets, specialty shops, gift shops, restaurants and more, as well as on Amazon.
Abound: Where would you love to sell your products in the future?
Eyal: We’d love to connect with more independent shops around the country and internationally and also increase our online sales and food service sales if possible.
Abound: Do you have a favorite product? If so, which one?
Eyal: Our Purry-Purry Sauce was the recipe that started it all, so we’ve always been partial to it.
Abound: What’s your marketing like? Is social media an important part of your business? If so, how?
Eyal: We spend a lot of time doing face-to-face marketing in our area, including store tastings, events and such. We also do some social media marketing, but prefer to do it in tandem with our retail and online partners as a means of cross promoting.
Abound: What are some of the most frustrating challenges and/or moments you’ve had with Fat Cat Gourmet Foods?
Eyal: Nothing was more humbling than preparing for and dealing with Hurricane Irma in 2017. While the storm did not hit our area as hard as other places (thankfully) the entire state of Florida shut down for weeks and the storm and its flooding caused our business to literally stop operating completely until roads reopened and shipping lines were re-established.
Abound: What are some of your greatest achievements and victories you’ve had with your business?
Eyal: So much of our industry is performed through middlemen, so we don’t always know where our products might end up. As such, more than anything we really love it when people tell us they found our sauces in some faraway exotic location. One person said they saw our stuff at the gift shop at the Grand Tetons National Park one day, that was pretty cool!
Abound: What advice do you have for people who want to sell a product?
Eyal: Be patient and let the business grow organically. Food is a very slow business and it takes longer than you expect to see your brand and product make an impact and connect with people.
Abound: Is there any business advice or quotes you’ve heard that you think about often?
Eyal: The best advice I’ve ever received was from a salsa maker in Virginia, who said you need to think of your business as a bull’s eye, with you at the center and your goals at the outer edge. “You need to go through all those layers to get to the edge, to the goal,” he said, “and you can’t skip layers to get there otherwise you’ll be on shaky ground.” Very true words.
Abound: What’s your favorite thing about being a business owner?
Eyal: Your business is like your child, when it succeeds you feel proud of it and want to share it with the world.