9 min 18 sec

Salesman’s Spicy Side Hustle Serves Up Serious Sales

After hosting a popular Super Bowl party, a St. Louis salesman brings his fiery-hot, yet extra-flavorful hot sauce to the market.
Food Niche Ideas Product Unique Ideas

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What It's About

A tasty side hustle that serves up the heat!

Business Model
Skills Required
Experimentation & Product Development
Profit Potential

Words of Wisdom

But, if you were to approach larger chains, Charlie says patience is key. Some retailers can take five to six months to approve your product, even for small batches. Be sure to keep in touch throughout the process and don’t let yourself be forgotten. Even a quick phone call can be enough to ensure the process is chugging along.

Fun Fact

Since Charlie didn't have any retailers starting out, he offered to deliver his hot sauce to anyone that ordered it online locally. A few weeks in, he mailed a bottle of his sauce to a local news anchor who is known for wearing bowties on every Tuesday's broadcast. In his letter to him, Charlie wrote, "Hey John, I launched Hot Charlie's a few weeks ago, and it's the first bowtie friendly hot sauce" (For note here: Charlie's label is a cartoon version of himself with a bowtie on) Well, his producer emailed him back, and he landed a spot on the local news!

Notes from Chris

Episode 626

St. Louis, Missouri Salesman Charlie Backer was getting ready to host friends for his Super Bowl party. Like any good host, he had a wide array of snacks and nibbles for his guests but wanted to add something special and unique to the table. So, while the 49’ers and Ravens were warming up on the field, Charlie began to heat things up in the kitchen.

He put together a simple recipe for a hot sauce using fresh ingredients, like peppers, vinegar, and garlic that he’d picked up at the supermarket. After a few tries, he felt he’d landed on a recipe which had more kick than the punter for the Ravens that night, but didn’t lose out on flavor.

Charlie served it up to his friends … and they loved it! It was early days, but he could feel people were really warming to his hot new recipe.

Over the course of the next few years, Charlie worked hard on his hot sauce. He’d tinker with the ingredients and flavors and cooking times to try and get it just right. Then, he’d share bottles of it with friends and family. He even gave it a name, Hot Charlie’s and had a sticker created to put on the bottle.

Then, in 2017, Charlie felt like he’d finally cracked the hot sauce code.

One of his friends took a bottle home to try and, the next morning, that friend was on the phone imploring Charlie to start selling the hot sauce. They weren’t just complementary, they downright told him he’d be crazy not to sell it.

Charlie was a salesman at heart but he’d never thought of pitching his sauce to anyone. It was just something he did. But, he also wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to earn a little extra cash if he could, especially if people were asking to buy it. So, he thought, give the people what they want!

Retailers have been a large source of Hot Charlie’s profits and the sauce is now sold in over 70 retailers across three states. Which has led to the sales of thousands of bottles.

Looking to the future, Charlie is going all-in on his hot sauce side hustle. He lost his job and decided it was his opportunity to focus on Hot Charlie’s full time. He’s fired up: the goal is to expand into more retailers and take Hot Charlie's nationwide!


  • Hot Charlie's: Head on over to Charlie's website to learn more about this hot side hustle!


Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,


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Quote of the Day
"Write a list of your goals, share your dreams with those closest to you, and don't be afraid of rejection and negativity."
—Charlie Backer #SideHustleSchool

Sponsors & Gratitude


This week, Side Hustle School is brought to you by Crazy Enough to Work, a popular podcast and film series. 📈

When the rest of the world is still zigging, some companies know when it’s time to zag. Elizabeth Banks has teamed up with State Street Global Advisors to make a series of podcasts and films that uncover the bold moves mid-cap companies make to thrive and survive.

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau