Startup Stories: From Kitchen to Supermarket Shelves

Why is this sauce called Not Ketchup? FDA rules say no tomatoes means you can't call it ketchup. So it's Not Ketchup. Get it?

From Kitchen to Supermarket Shelves: The Birth of NOT KETCHUP

Tell us about your entrepreneurial product or service.
Not Ketchup is a line of gourmet “ketchups” made from fruit instead of tomatoes. They’re sweet and tangy just like ketchup, but they can’t actually be labeled “ketchup” because they don’t contain tomatoes. The flavors include Cherry Chipotle, Blueberry White Pepper, and Smoky Date, with more flavors in the works. Not Ketchup pairs beautifully with burgers, steak, ribs, chicken, anything off the grill, sausages, and cheese. Some people are even using it to top Greek yogurt or ice cream!

What inspired you to launch your business idea?
I’m an obsessive home cook, and I’ve been writing the food blog In Erika’s Kitchen for five years. I spend as much time in the kitchen as at my desk (and I spend a LOT of time at my desk, working as an online marketing consultant). We go cherry picking every spring and last year we picked about 30 pounds of cherries. I got sick of making jam and decided to try making cherry ketchup instead. My husband, who hates traditional tomato ketchup, loved the cherry ketchup – and so did everyone else who tasted it. There’s nothing like Not Ketchup on the market, so I decided to make a go of it.

What problem does your business or organization solve?
Not Ketchup opens up a new category of gourmet condiments. People are always looking for something new and fresh, and there hasn’t been a lot of innovation in the ketchup world for quite some time. Plus, traditional ketchup has corn syrup in it (two kinds!) and a lot of people would prefer a more natural alternative. Not Ketchup uses unprocessed sweeteners (demerara sugar and honey), has no preservatives, and contains zero artificial anything. It’s real fruit, onions, vinegar, natural sweeteners.

What has been your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur and how are you working to overcome it?
I have two big challenges. First is that I started Not Ketchup while I was running my other business, The Kerekes Group (marketing consulting). I have been running on all cylinders for my clients while trying to carve out time to get Not Ketchup off the ground. And because my consulting work actually gave me the seed capital for Not Ketchup, I’ve been taking on as many projects as I can all year – I needed the money! All of which adds up to one very busy and very tired Erika.

The second challenge is ahead of me: sales. I’m not scared of selling, but it doesn’t come as naturally to me as, say, writing. But I’m plowing ahead and I’m not letting anything get in my way – because if I don’t sell, the business isn’t going to succeed.

Give us one word that people might use to describe you.

How has Project Eve helped you and/or your business?
It’s great hearing the stories of other women business owners. If they can do it, I can do it!

Give us an insider tip that relates to your industry or startup story.
When you’re making a food product, always think about how people will use it, and make sure you include those ideas in your marketing materials – especially when your product is out of the ordinary, like mine. Everyone’s first question is “What do I put it on?” so I try to answer that question with every word I say, sentence I write or picture I post.

Company: Not Ketchup


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