068: Sells hot sauce to Americans and chili vodka to Russians. In 2012, aged 34, couldn’t find sauce hot enough in Australia, made her own. 1 FTE to 5, sales doubled every year hitting $1m in 2019. Raised $2m from equity crowdfunding (Renae Bunster)

australia crowdfunded food and beverage fte 1-5 podcast sales $0.5m-$1m aud Jan 02, 2021

In this episode, I interview Renae Bunster, the Founder and Global President of Bunsters Hot Sauces. An ex Television journalist, Renae fell in love with hot sauces while in Mexico in 2011. She couldn’t find anything hot enough back in Australia so she started making her own at home in 2012 aged 34. She now sells her hot sauce all around Australia and in America through Amazon and is about to sell her chili vodka in Russia. The business’ sales started at $83,000 in the first year and then doubled every year to crack $1 Million in 2019. With one to five full-time employees, they made 35 tonnes in one week last year through a contract factory, which will double this year. 

Initially self-funded, they started dipping into mortgage and did a KickStarter pre-sales crowdfunding in 2015 to sell $200,000 of hot sauce and last year took on angel investors who then suggested an equity crowdfund. In mid-2020, they raised $2 Million from the crowdfunding. She approached two great mentors who are very successful female business owners. She felt she had succeeded when she made a bottle of Vodka with “Shit the Bed” on it and raised $2 Million in crowdfunding. Renae believes the hardest thing in growing a small business is finding customers when you have no budget. She says the one she would tell herself on day one of starting out in business is, “This is going to be huge, but only if you have fun and laugh the whole time, and don’t take it too seriously” Ladies and gentlemen, Shit the Bed creator, Renae Bunster. Enjoy the episode.

This Cast Covers:

  • Building a hot sauce empire and making the lion’s share of their money from their flagship Shit the Bed Hot Sauce.
  • The holiday to Mexico that brought it all about.
  • Big markets in the US and Australia, and the ones coming up in the UK, Europe, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
  • The huge role that Fulfilled By Amazon has played in their sales success.
  • From $83,000 a year in 2014 to the current over $1 Million in global sales.
  • The successful crowdfunding campaign that has seen them raise up to $2 Million in equity.
  • Their wife+husband+VA team with an additional food technologist, IT person, and another support person.
  • Creating the Shit the Bed Vodka and having nearly 2,000 people invest in her company.
  • Using contract filling (Contract manufacturing) to cost-effectively and flexibly do and sustain their manufacturing.
  • The power of social media and staying on top of the trends.
  • How authentic influencers are the ones who are getting real returns.
  • Self-funding the business every way they could until the point where they started crowdfunding.
  • Where the crowdfunding idea came from and the effort they had to put into it to make it a success.
  • How she got two very successful female businesswomen to mentor her.
  • What it’s really like to make money from the food business.
  • The role that everyone on her team plays to add value to the business.
  • The strategies they use to get the best virtual team members.
  • Why work/life balance does not exist for Renae and the value of having a great scheduling tool.

Additional Resources:



“You’ve got to stay on top of the trends on social media” – Renae Bunster

“I sell hot sauce to the Americans and vodka to the Russians” – Renae Bunster

“Talk to your customers face to face and listen to them” – Renae Bunster

“Crowdfunding is so much more work than getting angel investors” – Renae Bunster

“If you’re going to invest in an early-stage business, get in on the ground floor” – Renae Bunster

“With food businesses, all your money is made on the second sale” – Renae Bunster


Music from https://filmmusic.io “Cold Funk” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com). License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/