From a dirty word to a roaring success

An interview with Bunsters CEO Renae Bunster

With an international fan base which includes Natalie Portman, Jeff Goldblum and Matt Damon, an overfunded crowdfunding campaign which currently stands at more than $800,000 (with nine days yet to go), and a daringly named sauce called “Sh*t The Bed", Perth-based entrepreneur, Renae Bunster has become an international condiment queen in just five years. We sat down to burn our mouths together.

1. So, why Hot Sauce? What was the inspiration and were you a connoisseur of the condiment before the idea came along?

I had to make hot sauce out of necessity. I came back from Mexico craving delicious fresh hot sauces and there were none in Perth that hit the spot so I had to make some. I didn't like chilli much at all before I went to Mexico. Didn't care for it at all to be honest.

2. What did you think you were going to be when you left school?

I thought that I was going to be a computer scientist because I went to university to study computer science. I only lasted a month before I dropped out.

3. Where did the special recipe come from (does it have its own IP and caveats around who makes it and how)?

I came up with it while I was travelling around Mexico. Every country I went to went heavy on a different ingredient in their hot sauce so I was constantly formulating the perfect recipe in my head. IP wise, yes it must only be produced under a full moon when Mercury is in Retrograde.

4. Where did the Sh*t The Bed name derive and has it helped marketing?

The Sh*t The Bed name was just something that I thought was hilarious and it was only meant to be a once-off joke. It has helped marketing massively because people also think it's hilarious and then they share it on their social media and I get free advertising constantly.

5. What markets is it going to and what is it called in France… Merde la Lit?

We sell a lot of it in Canada so we had to translate our label for them. It is called chie en lit in Canada. We sell a lot in Hong Kong, Singapore, the UK and America, as well as Canada. Other random countries too. Amazon ships it to everyone.

6. How hard has it been to start a business and what are the pitfalls for new players?

Starting a business was very easy for me because from the very beginning people demanded my product. No matter how much of it I made, I always sold out. The pitfalls that new players should be aware of before they even think of starting a business is who is going to buy their product or service and how do you get them to buy it again and again and again.

7. How hard is it to break into the US market and have any of the other hot sauce mafia tried to tie you up and put you in a hotdog?

It was actually a very long, one year wait before everything started popping for us in America. One long year of wondering if we'd put our eggs in the wrong basket. But the risk paid off when the sauce went viral in 2017 and we got to the top of Amazon. We picked up enough customers who love it to make it all worthwhile. The hot sauce mafia in the USA have actually been very friendly to me. I have a lot of friends in the industry over there. They are a fun bunch.

8. Where to after Hot Sauce (more sauce or “hot something else”?)

Condiments. Condiments everywhere…

9. How is crowdfunding going and any plans to list on the ASX?

It's going great! We have lots of people frothing over our equity offering. No plans to list on the ASX.

10. How is the taster offer going where, if you invest $2,000, you are appointed to a taster team?

It all sold out in the first week. I guess it went well.

11. What’s the favourite thing you like to eat with your Hot Sauce (any odd combinations?)

Nothing crazy for me. Eggs. Hot Sauce on eggs is the best. Matt put “Sh*t the Bed” in his coffee once. Instant coffee, with milk too. Ugh!

12. As a bit of a condiment tragic, horseradish sauce especially, I note that some condiments can carry high prices. What does your sauce sell for and how important is price point?

Price should be a reflection of what's in the bottle. If it costs $2 don't expect much. Our sauces range from $8 to $30 for a 236ml bottle. I am told time and again by hot sauce junkies that for $30 my Black Label hot sauce is worth every cent. You get a lot of bang for buck in that bottle.

13. Anything else you’d like to add that you’ve never said before?

I've said it before and I'll keep saying it - please start reading your labels (especially your food labels) and start buying Australian Made as much as possible. If we all take a few seconds to have a look and pay a little bit more for better quality Aussie produce we'll keep our money here, boosting local businesses, manufacturing and our economy. You'll also get better tasting more nutritious food.

Thank you, Renae.

Thank you for interviewing me Antonios!

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