Project description

Business Owner: Michael De Los Santos
Business: Mike D’s BBQ
Location: Durham, North Carolina

Meet Mike
Mike has always been passionate about BBQ . Struggling to find the right BBQ sauce led him to experiment and create his own,“ For years I  struggled to find a sauce that met the flavor and thickness I desired. As a result, I started tinkering with making my own sauces and seasonings. Family and friends always loved the sauces and seasonings. They would often encourage me to start a business to share the products with everyone. I still put it off for years.”

After the death of his son, Mike came to the realization that it was time to get serious about his BBQ sauce business. He describes the importance of being the best version of oneself and achieving your goals, “My son fought so hard to live during his short life and my take away from this was that I should always push to be the best version of myself possible. That meant I should not make any more excuses about why I could not start a business and push forward. I cannot be the best version of myself if I am not doing what I can to pursue my dreams and passion.”

Mike D’s BBQ Journey
On December 2013, after a small crowd funding campaign, Mike launched his first BBQ sauce and meat rub.  Since then he has faced many uphill challenges such as gaining access to credit or capital—his did not stop him. Mike studied other options that would help grow his business. He learned to take each challenge in stride and learn from each experience, “I did a small crowd funding campaign at the very beginning and have a few small investors from close friends and family, but my wife and I are the main providers of startup capital. I started the business by first learning the ins and outs of starting a BBQ sauce company. There is a lot of information to process in terms of the manufacturing and packaging of the product. I went through all the paperwork to get my LLC properly filed and to get my product samples lab tested for shelf stability and for the nutritional labeling process. It was a long process, but well worth it as that framework being in place made it much easier to work with a co-packer for the mass production of the sauce. Every experience that led to me starting the business was valuable and without those experiences, both good and bad, I would not have been able to do this.”

Above The Rest
Just within a short period of time, Mike has been able to grow his company more than he imagined. He hopes to continue this pattern by staying above his competitors and carefully crafting his unique flavors to perfection.  Mike advises other entrepreneurs to find something that sets you apart from your industry competitors, “There are a lot of BBQ sauce and seasoning products out there. What separates me from my competitors is the careful crafting of the flavors to make them a perfect match for any meat or vegetable—it makes my products more versatile. From the sauce perspective, it strikes the perfect balance of flavor and thickness. The sauce is not too thick or too thin and the robust flavor is not as sweet as many of the standard sauces on the store shelves. Discovering what sets you apart from your competitors will help you to excel and be successful in your business.”