Cork Innovates talks to the Managing Director of Rebel Chilli, Paul Moore about the challenges and opportunities facing Cork startups today.
Tell us about yourself and your startup.
My name is Paul Moore. I’m 24 years old, and the Managing Director of Rebel Chilli. At Rebel Chilli, we produce a range of fresh chilli sauces, using only the best ingredients, and sell to the retail and food service sectors in Ireland. We are also exporting to Dubai and the U.K. Rebel Chilli has been in full time operations since 2014.
Prior to this, I managed the brand with my brother Ken, whom I took over from upon finishing my degree in Business Information Systems (UCC). I did a lot of farmers markets and food festivals but didn’t really sell to many shops. Now, we are stocked in over 260+ outlets.
In October 2014, we were awarded Gold for our Red Sweet Chilli at the Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards. We started exporting to Dubai in January of this year, when I sent my first pallet for export on my 24th birthday! Rebel Chilli was then selected to be part of the AIB Startup Academy, an 8 week intensive training course. We were selected from over 400 entries and made it to the live final pitch night. In June of this year, three of our products won Gold, Silver, and Bronze at the Inaugural Irish Free From Food Awards in Dublin. Just this past week, we launched our products in 40 Dunnes Stores outlets around the country. This is a very exciting step in our progress.
What is your vision for Rebel Chilli?
My vision for Rebel Chilli is to be one of the most exciting, and progressive food brands in the world.
Our unique products, branding, and marketing will differentiate us from our competitors.
I want a bottle of Rebel Chilli to be on every table in Ireland initially, and then onwards from there!
What have been your biggest hurdles as entrepreneurs, and how did you get over them?
One of the biggest hurdles has been transitioning from a smaller food business operating at a local level, to a larger one operating at national and international levels. Although the product is the same, the actions and operations you must do to keep growing change quite frequently and you need to be aware of this in order to act accordingly. Managing all the new accounts we added was difficult initially, as we had to scale up production to meet demand, but once we sorted our commercial kitchen, we were flying. My business partner, Graham Clarke, formerly of KookyDough and Cool Beans, who I welcomed to the team in 2014, was of great assistance in helping me to get over these hurdles. I was able to use his extensive experience and insight to accelerate our progression and ensure that we were able to overcome any issues and headaches that came our way.
What are your views on entrepreneurship in Cork?
I think there has been a lot of effort gone into increasing and encouraging entrepreneurship in Cork, particularly by the LEO’s, in the last few years. There are a lot of supports out there available for people who are looking to start their own business. I do think that a lot more needs to be done, especially for young people, so as to show that it is an alternative option to standard jobs or careers. I’m part of the Cork Young Entrepreneurs Network whose aim is to foster and encourage entrepreneurship in Cork. We will be holding events from September onwards, so anyone with friends or relatives that has an idea or a business should get in contact with us!
What motivates you – in other words – why do you do what you do?
I had job offers when I finished college, but I chose Rebel Chilli because I wanted to do something a bit different.
I do what I do because there is the potential for it to become something incredible.
I wouldn’t have this opportunity if I had taken a 9-5. I’m learning every week whilst managing my own company and gaining invaluable experience that I would not have gotten otherwise. I’m motivated to try and achieve something that my friends and family will be proud of. If I fail, so be it. We only get one chance, so might as well risk it!