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Bigging Up Levi Roots and His Reggae Sauce

 

By Franka Philip

 

 

What do you get when you mix reggae and pepper sauce? Reggae Reggae Sauce of course!


This pepper sauce made waves on British TV a few days ago when Levi Roots, a Jamaican-born brother from Brixton, south London,
clinched £50,000 to help him develop his unique brand of pepper sauce.


Roots captivated five hard-nosed business gurus on the popular show,
Dragons’ Den with his singing skills and his unique take on marketing a product that many Caribbean people take for granted.


This charming Rastaman who is also a well established reggae singer, started small like most other sole traders. For several years, he’s been selling his sauce at the jerk chicken stall he runs with his mother during the London Notting Hill Carnival and more recently on his website but he decided to take a chance on the Dragons’ Den to see if the panel of entrepreneurs would give him a break.


The premise of Dragons’ Den is that entrepreneurs pitch their idea for a product or service to a panel of five mega successful business people in the hope that one or more of them will invest some of their own money in exchange for a share of the company. The Dragons are extremely tough interrogators and a business plan has to be water tight to convince them to part with their money.


When the guitar-playing, dreadlocked man in a suit came up and started singing about his sauce, you could see they were thinking ‘this guy’s not for real’. But then Roots confidently said, “I want £50,000 for 20% of my company”.


His pitch convinced two of the Dragons who invested £25,000 each and now his sauce is going be sold at over 600 branches Sainsbury’s supermarkets. That’s a major success by any standard.


“The brand is right there, he’s on the mark,” said Peter Jones, one of the Dragons who invested in Reggae Reggae Sauce. “He’s mixed music with food, which is another great asset, but actually, it’s him, his character - he is the brand and the product happens to be fantastic as well.”


I'm going to look for some Reggae Reggae Sauce and support the brother! It’s not often you see Black people doing something so positive on British TV, so when they do well, we have to celebrate them. I agree with Tony Sewell who wrote about Roots in his weekly column for The Voice Newspaper:


“Black business in Britain
is held back by three things: racism, our own comfort zone and access to capital. Levi Roots showed us how to overcome all three. On one level, some of us could say there is something a bit crass and stereotypical about a product called Reggae Reggae Sauce. However, I think this is a smart name, a wider audience can relate to this, a bit like Bob Marley’s Punky Reggae Party. Levi Roots has made his journey from the margins to the mainstream, he has done this and kept his integrity.”


I feel Levi Roots has come to the market at the right time, because the UK market is more than ready for good Caribbean
products. The widespread acceptance of Asian food has made it easy for entrepreneurs like Roots who are willing to make a product of high quality with a unique twist.


And in another twist, the song he performed for the Dragons is going to be released as a single and proceeds will go to charity.

 

For more information about Reggae Sauce please visit 

http://www.reggaereggaesauce.org

 

Franka Philip is a food expert and a journalist with the BBC in London. She blogs at www.cancookmustcook.com

 

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