Mr. Singh’s Sauces
1st July 2016
Founder: Kuldip Singh Sahota
Everyone, at some point, has dreamed of taking their hobby and turning it into a business. For Kuldip Singh, the hobby was making his father’s special chilli sauce at home, and the business he turned it into is Mr Singh’s Sauce, a selection of all natural and British made sauces and cooking pastes.
“We started Mr Singh’s because of my dad’s love of chilli sauce”, says Kuldip. “He used to moonlight in restaurants and make this sauce that everyone loved. His difficulty was taking his great product and spinning it out into business success.”
“That was our Eureka moment, we realised that this is what we should be doing.”
Invented in the 1980s and a firm fixture at family gatherings, the first step to thicken Mr Singh’s sauce into a national business success was an application for a stall at the BBC Good Food show. Kuldip booked it on a whim and – alongside six other family members – decamped to the garden shed where they made 1,000 bottles of chilli sauce in preparation. “When we got to the show we were selling bottles that were still hot from the night before and we ended up selling out. That was our Eureka moment, we realised that this is what we should be doing.”
Kuldip, a property investor, was joined on his mission to make, bottle and sell the Indian-inspired sauce by his father – the namesake and inventor – and his brother, a pharmacy wholesaler. In his own words, they were an unlikely bunch to set up an FMCG enterprise, “None of us had any business, branding or operations experience.” He decided to learn on the job and began to read widely, not just about entrepreneurs but about people who were successful across fields and industries.
The books paid off; Mr Singh’s Sauce is now available in five different product varieties and at national supermarkets and independent retailers across the country.
For Kuldip, the secret of the sauce is its role in bringing the family together. “Before we started doing this, the family was segmented”, he says, “My dad was always out trying to create his legacy and as we grew up, we all started doing our own thing.”
He credits all the hours spent preparing the sauce with strengthening the Singh family bond. “The sauce, and the fact we were operating out of our family home gave us something that we could connect over as adults, as well as professionals.”
Kuldip looks back at those early days with fondness, despite working two jobs and causing a lot of damage to his parents’ kitchen. As a result, he is a strong advocate of the home business setup, “You don’t have any costs, apart from feeding yourself… If you can be disciplined and structure your day so that you start and end at a certain time, I think it’s a great place to test ideas and start a business.”
“Carry on, persevere and figure out how to solve the problem because there will definitely be a solution.”
Home businesses will still present their occupiers with challenges, he says; “Everything’s a puzzle that has to be overcome. The biggest challenge you will have to overcome is the thought of quitting and walking away. But, if you really believe in your business, then you will make it work and figure out how to take it from one to ten.” His call to budding entrepreneurs is clear: “Carry on, persevere and figure out how to solve the problem because there will definitely be a solution.”
Aside from spice, the overwhelming flavour of Mr Singh’s Sauce is family: “It’s always about more than just the product and the business”, says Kuldip, “It’s about an experience, a story, and I’m so proud that our story can be one about family.”