In January 2007 Levi Roots was invited to pitch his business on the BBC TV show Dragons’ Den, where he famously sang about his Reggae Reggae Sauce, earning his place as possibly the most famous participant to go on the show!
The story behind the sauce though began in Jamaica in the early 1970s, where Levi’s Grandmother, Miriam Small, taught him the magic of cooking.
When Levi moved to England to join his family in Brixton, he craved the music and sunshine of Jamaica. Cooking helped restore the Caribbean flavour that he had been looking for, and a guitar bought for him by his mum, reignited his passion for music.
Levi never stopped making jerk chicken sauce, constantly refining and perfecting the recipe to create the recognisable taste that we now know as Reggae Reggae Sauce. It was this sauce he took to all the ‘Shires’ throughout the UK, to sell at markets. This was also where the Reggae Reggae Sauce song was first heard, which Levi would perform to draw the punters in.
It was at one of these markets Levi was spotted and invited into the Dragons’ Den. Two of the Dragons, Peter Jones and Richard Farleigh, subsequently invested in the project, and the Reggae Reggae Sauce journey began.
In the days after the show, Peter Jones used his large list of contacts to introduce Levi and his product to buyers at Sainsbury’s. With an exclusive distribution deal of the sauce, within 6 weeks it was on the shelf and the pick up was incredible.
The result? The product sold just as quickly as it could be made, and for a few weeks, Reggae Reggae Sauce even out-sold Heinz Tomato Ketchup! The sauce is now stocked in all substantial retailers and the Levi Roots brand has been extended across a large range of other products.
So what is the reason behind the success of Reggae Reggae Sauce? Is it the recipe? The cash from the Dragons’ investment? Or perhaps that Peter Jones and Richard Farleigh recognised a great, marketable brand in Levi, his songs and his sauce? It could be argued that it was an easy investment for the Dragons’ to make.
Unlike many of the other businesses that appear on Dragon’s Den, the Dragons didn’t just invest in Levi’s business, they also invested in Levi Roots himself. After all, Levi is a walking and talking billboard for the brand!
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