Original, organic, local, fresh, seasonal, vegan, gluten-free–all of those adjectives describe the first five spicy sauces created by local startup Saucee, which is currently in the process of wrapping up a successful Kickstarter campaign to expand production and deliver its products online to you.
Capsaicin, Turmeric, Kale, Maitake Mushroom and Flax–those are the names of the first five sauces, as well as the key ingredients that define each of them.
Do you know what I like about best about these products, outside of their taste? It's reading their list of ingredients. In an age where industrial, processed food prevails, these sauces contain no added oils, sugars, coloring agents, gums, stabilizers, or fillers.
On the back of Turmeric sauce bottle (built around a spice I grew to love while in the Peace Corps in Afghanistan), these ingredients are listed: Yellow bell peppers, water, onions, apple cider vinegar, garlic, sea salt, ginger, turmeric, amchur powder, and dried habanero peppers.
I know what those things are. No chemical names, no mysteries.
Saucee is the creation of two locals, and UC Berkeley grads, Mohit Jain and Himanshu Shah.
“We've stayed laser-focused on the ingredients,” says Jain. “We keep it clean and simple so that anyone can recognize the ingredients on our label. We blend taste and health. There’s at least one health ingredient in every sauce–for example, when I was young, growing up in Fremont, we always took turmeric with milk when we were sick.”
"'Eat more creatively,' that’s our tagline,” says Shah. ”For both of us, it’s back to our roots. It’s about how my dad used to cook like he was mixing ingredients in a lab. It was always an adventure. So rather than telling people what one of our sauces is good with we ask them to try it out and tell us.”
The Saucee team has been visiting the offices of local companies giving free samples of their products – so far they’ve visited Zynga, Zaarly, Lucas Film, Airbnb, Litro, Back to the Roots, and ReTargeter, among others–getting lots of positive feedback in the process.
They’ve also been working closely with Preserve Sonoma to perfect the sauces.
The Kickstarter campaign, which met its goal in five days, includes a recipe component whereby the community of investors (344 as of yesterday) shares their favorite recipes using the sauces.
As for their motivation in creating this company, Jain and Shah say on Kickstarter: “We believe that sauces are highly underrated and always felt that the options of today lack creativity–no heat/flavor balance, too much vinegar, unnecessary gums and preservatives, and frankly too many confusing options and categories. We knew that we could do it better!”
Note: I worked with Mohit Jain at a startup in Redwood City called Predictify for eight months in 2008-9.