How Access to Capital and a Customer-First Mindset Fueled Growth For Big Red’s Hot Sauce
by John Frerichs, VP, Global SMB, PayPal
Big Red’s Hot Sauce founders Tasia and Paul Ford
PayPal is fortunate to work with more than 35 million businesses, the majority of which are small businesses. One of those businesses is Big Red’s Hot Sauce, an Arizona-based company known for its engaging, in-person experiences at markets and stores across the Southwest, as well as its line of flavorful sauces and snacks.
We recently caught up with Big Red’s Hot Sauce founders Paul and Tasia Ford to learn how they turned a passion for gardening into a growing business, why building authentic connections is so important, and how access to capital through PayPal has helped their business scale.
John Frerichs: Can you share a background on Big Red’s Hot Sauce and what inspired you to start the business?
Big Red's Hot Sauce draws inspiration from ingredients native to the Southwest
Paul Ford: Big Red’s Hot Sauce is a hot sauce brand that specializes in creating full-flavored, Arizona-style hot sauces. We showcase Southwestern flavors and draw inspiration from the taste profiles and ingredients that are native to our home state. We’ve also recently expanded to sell hot-sauce inspired snacks and barbecue sauces.
The business started organically. We always knew we were going to be entrepreneurs – we just weren’t sure what the business was going to be. I love gardening, and in 2011, I grew a large crop of peppers. To use them up, I started experimenting with making hot sauces and would share them with friends. From the great feedback we were getting, we knew we were on to something, and Big Red’s Hot Sauce was born. Over ten years later, we’ve now grown from three sauces to 21 flavors!
John Frerichs: Community and connection are a core focus for Big Red’s Hot Sauce. Can you tell us how you engage customers to build those authentic connections?
Flavor Tours help create something memorable for customers.
Tasia Ford: Service is everything to us, and we also know that there’s real power in food. Sharing a meal is one of the most powerful things you can do, and we love that Big Red’s Hot Sauce can help bring people together and create connections over food and flavor.
At farmers markets and in-store, we love to be customer-facing and to build those connections by taking people through our Flavor Tour. Our Flavor Tours are an experience – we walk each person through our sauces with samples and we get to tell a story about each flavor and how to best enjoy it. We love it because we get to create something memorable for our customers and really welcome them into our Big Red’s family.
John Frerichs: Which PayPal tools have you used, and how have they helped your business?
Tasia Ford: We first started using PayPal four years ago as a way to quickly and securely check out on our website. Since we implemented it, we’ve seen that 40% of our customers that buy online with us are using PayPal to checkout.
In 2021, we also accessed business funding through PayPal, applying and being approved for several PayPal Business Loan’s1 that have been really crucial to our business. With this financing, we were able to scale and cut our manufacturing time in half by buying new equipment. It helped us build a team that meant we could be freed up as founders to expand the business in ways we weren’t able to before. On top of that, we launched a limited edition set of sauces to celebrate our ten-year anniversary, and this financing helped us navigate supply chain issues, get everything we needed, and meet demand once it was available2.
John Frerichs: How is Big Red’s Hot Sauce finding new prospects and continuing to reach new customers?
Tasia Ford on a Flavor Tour at a local farmers market.
Paul Ford: Farmers markets and brick-and-mortar stores are a big part of our business, but we’ve also been focusing on expanding our online presence so more people can enjoy our sauces. We’ve noticed that with people working from home more these days, they’re also cooking more and looking for ways to try something new. We want to make sure that if they want to cook outside of the box, Big Red’s is easily available and can be a part of that.
The Flavor Tour is also really important to us, and we want to make sure that even our online customers get a chance to be involved. As we continue to build our online and social presence, we’ve been focusing on how we can capture that experience in a visual, virtual way.
Demand and customer desires can change heading into the holidays. How are you preparing for the upcoming holiday season?
We’ve been preparing for the busy holiday season by ordering extra supplies and we’ve been in production each week since the beginning of November. In addition, we hired a marketing team to help expand our reach. Most importantly, we’ve listened to our customers, and we are giving them what they have asked for -- we have launched our desert heat packs! Our desert heat packs are a mini sampler pack that contains 5 of our top selling sauces in 2oz travel size bottles and a convenient box.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs looking to start their own business?
Flavor Tours help Paul Ford tell a story about each flavor and how to best enjoy it.
Paul Ford: First, you need to be ready to put in the work, but you also need to remember that it does get easier. Run the race, work hard, and have confidence in what you’re doing every single day.
Second, having access to capital makes a difference. It helps you to feel prepared and empowered. It also impacts how you can plan for the future because it helps remove limitations. That’s something that has really allowed us to continue to grow.
Read more about the Big Red’s Hot Sauce story and how access to financing helped take them to the next level here.
1The lender for PayPal Business Loan is WebBank, Member FDIC. Applicants must satisfy certain requirements to be eligible. Lender approval required - terms and conditions apply.
2Results or experiences may vary.