Sarah Gotch had grown frustrated with the lack of healthy alternatives to traditional dips and condiments on the market.
“I started wondering how we could make salads healthier. I remember watching my grandma make chicken salad one time and the amount of mayonnaise and sugar blew my mind,” Gotch said. “Everyone assumes these chicken and tuna salads are considered healthy when that’s not necessarily the case.”
So in 2016, she started Gnarly Pepper.
Gotch came up with a powder formula that can be added to nonfat plain Greek yogurt. Adding a few teaspoons of Gnarly Pepper Like Mayo, you can have the taste of a rich, creamy mayonnaise for less than one-tenth of the calories. Similarly, she also custom blends an onion dip and veggie dip powder, all under the Gnarly Pepper label.
Hy-Vee is one of the biggest sellers of Gnarly Pepper products. They recently branched out to Des Moines and Madison, Wisconsin through Hy-Vee chain. Gnarly Pepper products are also available directly online.
Last year, Gotch participated in Venture School as well as multiple pitch competitions.
“I’m a big advocate and part of the Sioux City Growth Organization. Every year we host the innovation market,” Gotch said. “Through that, I actually won a course at the Venture School.”
Gotch says Venture School helped her develop a lean business model and a lot of customer discovery.
“Venture School was hugely beneficial for me. I learned so much in such a short amount of time,” Gotch said. “Calculating who your customers are saves you so much time and money in the end because you’re not guessing and buying stuff that’s totally useless.”