How could you not like a hot sauce (or a series of hot sauces) called Elixirs of Pain? The Accidental Locavore is a sucker for a good name and/or a well-designed package. And we know that I like a good hot sauce (or 50). So who was I to blithely skip by a Kickstarter project for a line of hot sauces? It turned out that I wasn’t the only one seduced by a pretty label; this ended up being one of the most (over) funded projects on Kickstarter, and that’s where the fun began.
The problem with a lot of things on Kickstarter is that once you have them funded, you have to produce them and not everyone is prepared to ramp-up in dramatic fashion. One day you have what you think is a good idea, the next day you have to make thousands of bottles of hot sauce. This was the case with Elixirs.
At first, the emails with status updates were amusing. Picture a man alone in a very small space who thought he would make up a few small batches of some different hot sauces, now surrounded by mountains of chiles, thousands of bottles, huge vats, etc. Then add in the lovely weather we had last summer and start cooking hot sauce. Not fun. And he had the added pressure of trying to scale up his operation, make the sauce, ship it around the globe and make a deadline, while we, his investors, just wanted our stuff.
To sit on the sideline and watch how entrepreneurs approach their businesses is always interesting. That’s what makes watching Shark Tank so fascinating and highly educational. This was the same thing. Much time was spent on discussions about t-shirts (hugely prevalent on Kickstarter – what do people do with all those t-shirts?) and a lot more on the difficulty in getting tons of fresh chiles in what was rapidly becoming the wrong season. Later, choosing to ship to the smaller investors before letting the bigger players come and pick up was a mistake that alienated anyone who was still on his side.
After the deadline had come and gone, and there was no hot sauce in sight, the emails started to grow more frantic and his Facebook page was filled with comments by many not-so-happy investors. And eventually both sides just became hostile.
I picked my box up (yes, complete with t-shirt) shortly after Thanksgiving. So far I’ve tasted two of the six elixirs. They are indeed hot! By the time they ended up in my possession, what with the drama and the poor handling of the situation, my interest in the project was long gone. Since we were moving and the opened hot sauce needed to be refrigerated (having heard the story of their creation, I wouldn’t take chances leaving them at room temp), I didn’t want to be adding another four items to my already over-capacity fridge. From what I read on Facebook, people seem to like them a lot, the most recent question being whether there will ever be any more. Hmmm…maybe I’ll put my unopened bottles on Ebay (with the t-shirt). Any opening bids?