It’s a perfect feel good success story in a bottle. Levi Roots, a Reggae musician who reached mediocre success with various bands in the 1980s, is now a millionaire; not so much on account of his singing (though it did play a part) but due to an old Jamaican jerk sauce family recipe.
The story begins with Levi Roots (real name Keith Tanyue) who had been making a spicy Jamaican jerk sauce from a secret recipe that had been passed down to him from his grandmother. Since 1991, Levi and his family had been making small batches of the sauce (named Reggae Reggae Sauce) in his home kitchen and using it as an ingredient in their Notting Hill Carnival food stall dishes. This led to Levi eventually bottling the sauce and selling it as a stand alone product at the carnival, However despite the reasonable success of the sauce at the carnival, financially Levi was still hard up.
It wasn’t until a talent scout spotted Levi at a food trade show and invited him to appear on the BBC2’s Dragon’s Den – that things took a turn for the better. Levi’s musical performance impressed two of the Dragons enough for them to offer him the required £50,000 for a 40% stake in the business. It was twice the amount of equity that Levi had wanted to give up, but he accepted their offer, knowing that the publicity from the show and the business connections of the Dragons would be an invaluable asset.
It was the right choice; within a few weeks of appearing on the show, a deal had been struck with Sainsbury’s, and the sauce went on sale in 600 stores nationwide, and soon became Sainsbury’s fastest selling product, overtaking established brands.
One of the investing dragons claimed that Levi was a “publicist’s dream”; he had the looks and the voice to stand out and sell the sauce, and sell it he did. Reggae Reggae sauce gained a huge cult following, not so much for its taste, but for the love of Levi. The charismatic Rasta man had slayed the dragons, and in doing so won the hearts and taste buds of the nation.
Building on the success of Reggae Reggae Sauce, Levi went on to launch two other varieties of sauce, and there is also talk of further products such as Reggae Reggae sauce crisps and pizzas; needless to day, Levi has done well financialyl and is rumoured to now be a millionaire.
Levi’s story of saucy success it just one example of the growing sector of entrepreneurs who have successfully pursued their dreams of starting their own business. Most start small, working from home before outgrowing their bedroom offices and moving into a more professional work space.