Austin’s PickleSmash Powers Through the Pandemic With Online Sales and Retail Expansion

Brian and Liz White, Co-Founders of PickelSmash

After running out of salsa, Brian White decided to mash up his own version using pickles as the main ingredient.

He added jalapenos, pickles, onions, and spices and came up with what is now known as PickleSmash, which is a salsa made without tomatoes.

“I like experimenting with mashups of different foods,” White said.

White learned how to can pickle salsa and then he started bringing it to doctor’s offices, and law offices where he was doing technology jobs and “everyone loved it,” he said.

In 2018, he went to New York City to attend the summer fancy food show and he got connected to some partners who he still works with today.

Last year, PickleSmash, a bootstrapped consumer packaged goods startup, joined the SKU accelerator in Austin and that had a huge impact on its brand and growth, White said. It started out as White’s Pickle Salsa, but in the SKU program, White met creative director Liz Berry who helped rebranded the company to PickleSmash. She helped the company with packaging, logo, and other brand elements.

Through SKU, White also learned how to pitch investors and raise capital. The company has raised $350,000 in seed-stage funding so far from 15 angel investors, White said.

To raise brand awareness, last November PickleSmash did a Kickstarter campaign and raised more than $11,000 of a $10,000 goal.

“Kickstarter is a really unique platform,” White said. It provided great exposure to influential consumers and raised brand awareness, he said.

It’s tough running a small business during normal times, but it’s extra tough during pandemic times. The pandemic has been a roller coaster ride for PickleSmash, White said. He discusses the challenges PickleSmash has faced during a Zoom audio interview for Silicon Hills News’ Ideas to Invoices podcast.

“I think everyone is dealing with unique sets of challenges,” he said.

PickleSmash was at the beginning of its events season in mid-March and all of that got shut down, White said. And it was supposed to launch in retail grocery in mid-April and that got shut down, he said.

“So we really had to pivot,” he said.

PickleSmash went to a direct to consumer selling strategy through online sales with a lot of marketing, White said.

During the business lockdowns, PickleSmash was deemed an essential business so it never shut down operations, White said.

Logistics and supply chain continues to be a problem, White said.

Now, PickleSmash is dealing with a unique supply chain problem, he said. There is a glass jar shortage, he said. For the next two to four months, everyone is kind of struggling and vying for those limited resources until the manufacturing plants can catch up, he said.

Meanwhile, White is preparing to roll out PickleSmash into Central Market stores throughout Texas on Sept. 1st. It’s also talking with Spec’s about stocking PickleSmash, he said. And it’s hoping to get into H-E-B as soon as it reopens its new products pipeline again, he said. PickleSmash has found a lot of success selling its salsa at Ace Hardware stores.

For more, listen to the entire podcast, pasted below, or wherever you get your podcasts – available on Google play store, Apple iTunes, Spotify, PlayerFM, Libsyn, and more.