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Attention hot sauce enthusiasts. Entrepreneur Casey Elsass has an announcement: "I love you Sriracha, but spicy honey is the next big thing."
At 28, Casey Elsass quit his administrative job at the Metropolitan Opera in New York to co-found condiment start-up MixedMade in Brooklyn with his good friend Morgen Newman. Their first product is Bees Knees Spicy Honey, made from just honey and chili pepper.
Watch the co-founder Power Pitch his sweet and spicy condiment in just 60 seconds to a panel with Alexander Smalls, Executive Chef at The Cecil, Rohan Oza, serial entrepreneur and iconic brand building guru, and Richard Demb, Abe's Market co-founder. Will the panel call it the "bee's knees," or will MixedMade get stung?
Elsass said brand named condiments are chock full of low-quality ingredients. "Food and life should be unexpected and unboring," he said.
"We saw an opportunity to introduce an entirely new product, Bees Knees Spicy Honey, that not only brings an unexpected twist to every meal but uses only the best possible ingredients." And in just 30 days, his hot honey business was up and running.
While co-founder Newman works remotely from London, Elsass collects raw honey from Honey Brook Farms in New York's Hudson Valley. Back in a rented kitchen space in Long Island City, he then infuses the honey with chili peppers at a low heat to keep the honey raw, and bottles each by hand. The nutrition label contains no preservatives or vinegar.
Elsass said there is no "secret ingredient," but he keeps the mixture of the three types of chili peppers a secret. He suggests hot honey lovers drizzle his Bees Knees on ice-cream, pizza, eggs or even cornbread.
After a taste test, Oza said, "This thing kicks like a mule. And I can take it. … The question is, across America, from a mainstream perspective, can they take that kick?"
Elsass responded, "But who saw Sriracha coming? I think the American palette's always evolving. … It's a melting pot. And so I think for the adventurous consumer, it's a great product."
Bees Knees Spicy Honey prices 13.05 ounce bottles at $14 on its MixedMade.com website, and the honey has landed on the shelves of New York Whole Foods, and other grocers in 11 other states, and Canada.The start-up plans to expand to national Whole Foods regions in early 2015.
The hot sauce market hit $1 billion in revenue last March and is expected to grow 4.7 percent annually in the five years to 2019, according to market research firm IBISWORLD.
While major players like Sriracha and Tabasco continue to bring the heat and dominate pantries worldwide, Bees Knees Spicy Honey also battles start-up Mike's Hot Honey, another New York-based chili infused honey start-up, which sells its 12 ounce bottle for $10.
However, Mixed Made's $14 price tag still proves to be a hot commodity. Self-funded with just $5,000 and no outside venture capital, the co-founder told CNBC that MixedMade already turned a profit and reached more than $50,000 in revenue just nine months after its January launch.
"What started as one 5-gallon bucket once a month has quickly grown to 100 gallons every other week and we're already outpacing that!" Elsass said.
For the start-up's one year anniversary in January, MixedMade will celebrate by launching a second product.
Elsass told CNBC, "My lips are zipped until then, but I will say it's in a similar vein to what we've started with Bees Knees: a spicy, unexpected, high-quality condiment."
—By CNBC's Joanna Weinstein.
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