Turning up the heat: How Scotch Boyz sauce landed on Target shelves — Neil Hudson & Drew Gray

Turning up the heat: How Scotch Boyz sauce landed on Target shelves — Neil Hudson & Drew Gray

Aug 03, 2023Scotch Boyz

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Co-founders Neil Hudson and Drew Gray join The Small Business Show to tell the story of their hot sauce business Scotch Boyz.


Four childhood friends who grew up in Jamaica came together to market their sauces and create their business which is now known as Scotch Boyz. After achieving success in their home country, their sauces have now come to the U.S., and can be found both online and in-store at Target. On this episode of The Small Business Show, host Jim Fitzpatrick is joined by Neil Hudson, company co-founder, CEO and head of sales, along with his fellow co-founder Drew Gray who is also the brand’s chief operating officer, to discuss the sauce brand and their journeys as entrepreneurs.

Like many small businesses, Scotch Boyz started as a personal hobby. Gray explains that he and his business partners held barbecue cookouts in Jamaica where they earned praise for their skill at making sauces. Since so many of their friends enjoyed their recipes, the group began to consider the possibility of forming a business. Eventually, they decided to compete in a cooking contest to test the quality of their skills and ingredients. “My background is in sauces so we did have some formulations in our back pocket, but we did create them for a competition,” Gray explains. “If the feedback wasn’t as amazing as it was we wouldn’t have moved forward, but luckily the feedback was great and we decided to bottle it.”

Although Scotch Boyz would stay in Jamaica for four years, it soon found a global fanbase. Hudson notes that the first major move to scale the business was when the group launched their brand on Amazon. This brought the product in front of international customers, boosting brand awareness and income. From this moment on, the company began to grow faster and faster, scoring a spot on QVC and even landing on the Amazon homepage as a featured seller earlier this year. The sauces were also placed on the shelves of roughly 100 stores in Europe, before becoming available at Target.

Although the business has seen admirable success, the journey has not been easy. “Luckily for us we have a factory we can scale, but the other component which can cause us some angst is raw material,” explains Hudson. Scotch Boyz currently uses peppers sourced from 200 different Jamaican farmers, a strategy which prevents supply chain disruptions. The company’s first delivery to the U.S. was also extremely difficult. When it arrived in the country, the shipment was seized, held and examined by the Food and Drug Administration, an interruption which delayed the delivery for days. Hudson recalls that when the sauces finally arrived, the packaging had been completely destroyed by water since the FDA had sent the cases in a truck with a hole in the roof. “Luckily for us we had buffer inventory because that would have really put us back and not enabled us to have a successful rollout,” he explains. Nevertheless, the stress of the event took its toll on the group. Gray notes he wasn’t able to sleep for nearly two weeks. “We made it just in time.”

Despite the hurdles, Scotch Boyz still has much more room to grow. “We have some innovation in the works,” Hudson confirms. The company’s next sauce, currently in development, will feature honey and spice, “a blend of sweet and heat.” A vegan line is also in the works, with agave taking the place of honey as a sweetener. The business is also looking to earn more restaurant customers. Bulk orders make such clients profitable, and placements in upscale establishments can drastically improve a brand’s reputation.

Both Gray and Hudson have sage advice for other entrepreneurs looking to start their own Scotch Boyz. “It’s never gonna be easy, you’re gonna get a lot of no’s but the yes’s will outweigh the no’s by far,” encourages Gray. “For every hundred no’s, you’re gonna get one yes and that’s gonna be the game changer.” Hudson urges future small business owners to be intentional when starting their enterprise. “Who is going to be part of the business, what is your team going to look like?” he asks. Entrepreneurs must be as fully aware of their limitations as they are of their strengths. To check out Scotch Boyz and their line of sauces visit their website here.

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