We were happy to introduce Mike de los Santos, founder of Mike D's BBQ, through our my B.O.B. campaign on Instagram! This campaign brings awareness to Black businesses from the owner's perspective. At blackbox we believe it's important to know the vision and purpose behind a business. Through our blog, we can dig deeper into their stories and provide a fuller perspective with you!
Mike has been in the BBQ world for a long time. He once had a BBQ review blog that allowed him to test, taste and review countless BBQ rubs and sauces. After reviewing so many products, Mike wanted to experiment with his own ideas and create a flavor profile he was in search of. After losing his son, Mike decided it was time to face his fears and used such tragedy as motivation to venture out on his own.
We are sorry to hear about the passing of your son. But also are inspired that it fueled your motivation to launch your business in his memory. What game plan did you have to meet your sales goal for your first year in business?
Not sure I had a real game plan. It was all so new and a bit overwhelming, but I knew I needed to use social media and family and friends. Those would all be low hanging fruit, as I was active on social media from my BBQ blogging days and had support from family and friends who had pushed me to start the business. There were some setbacks as I could not start selling our first rub until March, and didn't get the first sauce on the market until July or August. I was confident in my product though and word of mouth helped push us over the edge as the year went on.
How has your business grown and diversified since launching?
Since the launch of the business, there has been steady growth. Year two saw a 23% growth over year one. Year 3 saw 120% growth over year 2, and in year 4 we have already matched the sales from year 3 with 6 months to go! The product line has grown as well. There are 2 sauces and 2 dry rubs, with both dry rubs having different sizes. In addition, there are branded t-shirts and aprons, and just this year grill tools have been added to the online store. The sauces and rubs still remain the core of the business though. There is still one more sauce we hope to launch later this year or in 2018, and have a couple ideas for some other products featuring our dry rubs.
What is your favorite thing about running a BBQ business?
It is hard to pick my favorite thing, but it would probably have to be seeing the jy my products give to my customers. When I am at a show and someone tastes the sauce or rub for the first time, and I see their face light up is amazing. Knowing that something I created is giving them that joy is pretty fulfilling.
When you open a storefront location, what do you envision for Mike D's BBQ?
There is still a ways to go before the storefront is a realistic option, but am getting closer every day. The goal of the store is to be a one stop shop for all things BBQ. It will feature sauces and rubs from small makers across North Carolina, but will also feature everything you need to grill or smoke your food. There will be grills, smokers, grill tools, charcoal, wood, and anything else someone would need. I want to be a place people who love BBQ can shop for all their needs in one place where the staff know BBQ in and out. Something that is hard to find when simply shopping at the big box stores.
What advice would you give another entrepreneur interested in rubs and spices?
My advice would be to buckle up, because it is going to be a bumpy ride. The Sauce and Spice field is very crowded, but the cream always rises to the top. Be prepared to hear everyone tell you how they make their own or a family member does, and also that some people may not like it. Everyone has different flavor profiles they enjoy, so a few people not liking it is not a bad thing. Most importantly, if it is something you love and are passionate about keep pushing through the tough spots and have a plan for slow steady growth.
What a pleasure learning more about Mike and his prospering BBQ business! You can learn more about Mike and check out his rubs and sauces here. We wish him continued growth!