Paul Moore, CEO and President, Rebel Chilli
Paul Moore, CEO and President of Rebel Chilli, takes on the CEO Q&A and speaks of getting Irish brands out there more through collaboration and what it’s like running a company from scratch.
Q. What are your main priorities and goals in your role?
My main priorities are to ensure that we keep growing the brand as much as possible and get as many people as possible tasting and purchasing our sauces. Another of my goals is to expand into new markets like the UK and the US.
Q. What are your biggest challenges as CEO?
The biggest challenge we face is to try and compete with large, established brands with massive marketing budgets. We’re heavily present on social media and this is our main form of communication and advertising, but we need to keep innovating how we market our products so that they stand out. Another challenge is to step back and assess how you are doing and whether or not goals are being reached, as it is very easy to get lost when you are powering full steam ahead.
Q. How do you keep your team/staff motivated?
There are only two of us so I suppose we bounce off each other and keep each other motivated. Ultimately, it is up to me to keep the heads high, so I would try and be positive and focused on what needs to be done next, instead of getting complacent.
Q. What are the challenges facing your industry going forward?
In our sector, there is so much competition that an ongoing challenge is to stand out and be different. We think we do that well because our branding and ingredients are of a higher quality and different to competitors. Another challenge, or opportunity, is that people are always looking for something unique that they haven’t tried before, so it is up to us to keep bringing new ideas and products to the table. Finally, a massive one for us is the cost of raw materials. We use fresh ingredients in our products but there are regular fluctuations in price, and recently the average price per box has been increasing steadily.
Q. What new trends are emerging in your industry?
There has been a surge in popularity for vegan foods. All of our products are vegan friendly. The desire for fresh and local produce also continues to rise. One that has always been present but has grown in recent times is the desire from consumers to see Irish food brands working together and combining their products. We’re always open to working with other Irish brands because we love it, and so do our customers. Two brands we work with at the moment are Chopped salad bars and Nutcase Food Company, whereby our sauces are used on their food.
Q. Are there any major changes you would like to see in your sector?
As we are a small business, one of the challenges was getting our products listed in the major multiples. Thankfully, we now have our products listed in Tesco, Dunnes Stores and SuperValu, as well as independents like Ardkeen Quality Food Store. If there was more support to enable small businesses to grow into the multiple market, I think people would see a lot more quality Irish produce on the shelves.
Q. As an employer are you finding any skills gaps in the market?
We are a small team and we may expand sometime this year, but we are not currently actively looking for someone, so I can’t say I have!
Q. How did your strategy develop in the context of the banking crisis and economic crisis?
I was in transition year in school when the banking crisis occurred and Rebel Chilliwasn’t even an idea at that point, so thankfully we were not affected! It did make me aware of the importance of not getting complacent or careless in a job role, however.
Q. How will Brexit affect you, or have you started to feel the effects already?
We are not sending large amounts to the UK just yet so we haven’t been affected. It will affect us when we increase the size of our orders as there may be tariffs. We attended a show in Birmingham in 2016 and made a lot of contacts, but we have noticed that they are far less willing to commit to working with an Irish brand until the true effects of Brexit are known.
Q. How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?
For the company, success will be everyone in the country having a bottle of Rebel Chilli in their fridge or on their dinner table. On a personal level, it is about achieving as much as possible and never patting yourself on the back, but instead continuing to challenge and grow in all aspects of business and life. What drives me to succeed is the opportunity to grow a business or brand from something small to something greater, and knowing that it is all down to your own hard work and dedication.
Q. What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?
Always, always, always trust your gut instinct. I find it to be the correct decision nearly all of the time. Even if it turns out to be wrong, at least you backed yourself and you will learn and get better.
Q. What have been your highlights in business over the past year?
The highlights include establishing our relationship with Chopped salad bars who are nationwide and soon to expand into the UK. We also achieved a listing in 66 Tesco stores around Ireland, which was another fantastic achievement. In December, we won the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Cork City ‘Best Established Start-up’ category as part of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) competition. This was a fantastic boost for us as it garnered a lot of attention and exposure, and some much needed funds, too! We are now through to the next stage of the competition.
Q. What’s next for the company?
Our barrel-aged whiskey hot sauce is almost ready and we will be releasing it for sale soon! It is the first time in Ireland something like this has been done, so stay tuned…
Q. What opportunities or plans for growth do you see in 2018?
Next for us is to continue growing our presence and place in the market in Ireland. We are targeting the foodservice area as one with a lot of potential. Our range is very versatile so we can work in cafés, bars, restaurants and food trucks, so there is plenty of work to do! We want to increase our exports to the UK as it is a market with huge potential for us. We also want to increase our sales in Spain where we started exporting to last year.
Q. Where do you want your business/brand to be this time next year?
Sitting on a mountain of cash with everyone knowing who Rebel Chilli is, and people loving our products.
Starting out of his mother’s kitchen, Paul Moore began making chilli sauce with his brother and started selling it at his local farmers’ markets and food festivals around the country. It was in 2014 when Paul took over and decided to go full time with the business. Success soon followed when Rebel Chilli won Gold for their Red Chilli at the Blas na hÉireann Irish Food Awards.