We had the good fortune of connecting with David Drangeid and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi David, maybe we can start at the very start – the idea – how did you come up with the idea for your business?
The concept originated around 2010 when I took notice of the “world’s hottest pepper” entries being listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. Being an avid gardener, I wanted to try my hand at growing them myself. It took me a few years to become a competent pepper grower, as ‘super hot’ peppers are long season, tropical plants that are more difficult to grow in Colorado than other, more common pepper varieties. By 2014, I was ready to start my company, Bolder Super Hot. I started selling pepper plants at the Longmont Farmers Market, at home, and online. I am still working out the best and most profitable concepts and products for my business. I am currently selling peppers at farmers markets, and in Whole Foods Markets. I am also developing and selling pepper-based food products, plants and seeds.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Bolder Super Hot is a pepper company with a focus on providing rare pepper varieties, especially super-hots. When I started the company, my goal was to provide these chiles to an extremely under-served market that was growing exponentially. I quickly learned why this market is under served: these peppers are extremely difficult to grow! The plants are very slow to sprout and grow, and require precise growing conditions. Sprouting the seeds can take longer than a month for some varieties. During this time, soil temperature and moisture need to be maintained at all times. While growing garden plants is generally considered seasonal, our effort is truly a year-round endeavor. We begin germinating seeds in January, and the plants grow through the month of November. What sets us apart is our dedication to finding solutions to these obstacles in order to provide a truly unique and highly sought after product line. The process we have took years to develop, and is ongoing. The project was self-funded since 2014, until we took in our first grant money in 2020 through a GoFundMe campaign and the EforAll entrepreneur accelerator program. This year, 2021, we will be planting peppers in a small year-round greenhouse for the first time. This will allow us to extend our season, and harvest much more produce than ever before. This will increase the efficiency and potential of all of our plants. Our goal is to create enough cash flow to eventually move into a commercial greenhouse for year round growing. In pursuit of that goal, we are now collecting more and more data to inform our planning. To date, I have been happy with a slow, organic growth model. It has allowed me to stay out of debt, except for 2 equipment investments under $1000 each. It has also allowed me to try new things each year as my knowledge has grown. I have learned to design and build greenhouses, and now have two. I have built an incredible seed collection of rare pepper varieties. We have a website, as well as a regular presence on Facebook, Instagram, and we have started several other social media accounts. I have developed a relationship with Whole Foods Market, selling to stores across the Front Range. Last year we began selling at the Loveland Farmers Market, and we will be back again this summer. All of this was new to me before I began. We are still searching for a path to sustainability through several different product lines and markets. I feel the next difficult hurdle is going to be letting some things go that I am proud of, but may not be profitable enough to sustain. Some products and markets may have to be let go in order to make way for more realistic options. Sustainability is important beyond profitability, too, as we seek to be environmentally and socially responsible in every aspect. Bolder Super Hot is committed to eco-friendly farming practices and packaging, fair wages and inclusive hiring practices, involvement in supporting our community locally and at-large, and using our purse to support local businesses. We are proud to be a little engine that can now in our 8th year in business!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We will be going to the mountains! I first came to Colorado from Minnesota in 1990, and headed straight to Keystone to be a ski (not) bum. I had to work multiple jobs at times to afford my life in the mountains, where I picked up snowboarding, hiking, peak-bagging and mountain biking. Any visits by my friends have always included some sort of mountain adventure, depending on the season. Part of the fun is eating and drinking at the many brew pubs along the way. There are so many great restaurants and beers to be sampled in Colorado. The second must-do is going to see a show at Red Rocks. Nothing in my experience has ever held up to seeing a concert there. It is truly a special Colorado-only legacy. Nobody who has ever been there will forget this unique experience. For family-friendly outings, we love going to see a Rockies game at Coors Field, a day at Elitch Gardens, a tour of the US Mint, any of the great museums available, or just meander down the malls such as 16th street in Denver and Pearl street in Boulder.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
It all started at home for me; and so, my wife Michelle and my two boys, Davin and Stefen are at the top of my list. My family has jumped right in with me on this project. From putting up with the spice clouds in the house to helping me with processing plants, peppers, and food products, I literally could not have done it without them. I am also standing on the shoulders of giants in the pepper business who came before me. Farmers, breeders, seed sellers, and food makers have built a demand and a market that makes my business possible. Lastly, I would like to recognize the social media posters and contest participants who have put themselves at risk of extreme pain to show us what its like to eat super hot peppers. Their videos have created a lot of hype and curiosity about these special peppers. Along with the Guinness Book of World Records, they all have made super-hot peppers a main stream product.
Linkedin: David Drangeid
Other: email: firstname.lastname@example.org