The Journey towards Kickstarter

Our new project involves some video! Here we are setting up an interview scene for an upcoming Kickstarter campaign. Can’t wait to share more soon!

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New Project on the Way

We’re working on another product design project, and it has something to do with being outside! Here we are scouting some shot locations for a related sun-filled video, just 10 minutes from the city!

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Warehouse!

Live from the Oakland ship yard…New packaging arrives! Channeling the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark

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The Cult of Positive Failure

Anybody who creates a successful business on the first try got lucky. The path to success is always marred by missteps, mistakes, and failures; and the savvy entrepreneur will hit these pitfalls, learn from them, and keep pushing on.

There’s a reason why the majority of innovation occurs in geographically discreet communities like the Bay Area, New York or Boston. What separates these and other innovation hotspots from the rest of the country is that they represent a culture that regards failure as a positive experience to be embraced and learned from, not shunned and avoided.

Almost every successful founder has a few notches in their belt from companies they have run before. Most of them failed. They’re almost worn like a badge of pride; and these highly decorated veterans are respected for the wisdom and experience they have learned from their past endeavors.

And this is how we learned that the banking world is completely out of touch with this culture of innovation.

Yesterday Tom and I went to a meeting in San Francisco held by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to learn about options for raising money for our business. As we grow larger, we find we need more money to finance the new products we want to make.

At the meeting representatives of the government, banks, and microlenders discussed a variety of government-backed loan devices to encourage banks to lend to small businesses which normally wouldn’t meet the standard loan criteria (which is almost never met, considering banks won’t loan more than 5% of the three-year trailing average of annual receipts.  A growing company looking to finance a $25k inventory expansion would need to be making half a million dollars a year to even qualify for the loan—at which point they probably don’t need the loan).

The SBA changes this bank calculation by guaranteeing funds for a large percentage of a bank’s loan to a small business in the case of default.  But  it has a condition: the borrower must secure the loan with a personal guarantee. What this means is that if the business goes south, the bank’s collection agency can seize the borrower’s home, their car, their wedding rings—anything of value.

When I asked about this provision, and how it might affect the ability of a manager to run a business effectively when their capacity to take calculated risks is influenced by the fact that their home is on the line, one of the banking representatives responded “How can you morally ask somebody to lend you money when you won’t be personally responsible for it?”.

It is unclear which party in the chain is responsible for requiring the personal guarantee in SBA-backed bank loans– it certainly benefits both lenders and backers immensely.  But for the banks and the SBA to try to frame this as a moral issue is disingenuous. Their decision to require the borrower to be personally responsible for the debt is as moral as the banks tendency to sell-short and bet against the very investment packages they are trying to sell you for your retirement fund, or as moral as the government’s practice of giving millions to anti-smoking campaigns while backing tobacco growers with billions in subsidies.

It is not a moral decision on behalf of the lenders, it is a strategic one. The more hardworking people they can convince to put everything they own on the line for a dream, the easier they can pad their bottom-line with the short sale of repossessed homes and dreams.  When a bank loans you money, the individuals giving the speech on morality aren’t breaking open their own personal piggy banks to finance the loan; they have nothing at risk.  In 2008 when major banks pushed bad businesses practices and went under, there were no CEOs losing the wedding bands off their fingers.   In terms of high ground to stand on, there’s not a lot of room for the lending institutions to talk of morality.

The SBA is nation-wide, yet we only see innovation routinely originating from some very select and discrete areas of the country. We are lucky enough to live in a country with a mature and robust enough society that there is room for private-sector financing through venture capital, most prevalent in communities that embrace failure as something positive and to be expected as part of the long road to success.

If all investment was given by banks–and failure resulted in individual bankruptcy–then we’d have no Mark Zuckerbergs, no Bill Gates, no Steve Jobs or Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk. We’d have a bunch of bureaucrats and bankers sitting around wondering where the innovative engines of the American economy went.

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1% for the Planet

As our new packaging proudly states, we’ve become members of 1% for the Planet, a global community of companies that donates 1% of its annual revenue to environmental organizations around the world.  Our #1 and #2 pastimes are surfing and skiing, depending on which one of us you ask and what time of year it is, so we decided to direct our annual contribution to Oceana, an aid organization that uses research and science-driven campaigns to promote ocean conservation around the world.  We’re stoked that the Salsabol has grown to the point where we can incorporate 1% for the Planet into our business.  The ocean makes our waves, and its where the storms are borne that bring us snow, so it was a no-brainer for Salsabol HQ. 1% wrote about us on their blog, which you can see here!

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New Packaging in the Pipe!

We’ve been hard at work trying to come up with some new graphics to put on our boxes. We’ve come a long way from the giant stencil throw in big black block letters on a plain white box so many years ago. We wanted to give everybody a sneak peak at what will be appearing on shelves in a store near you soon!

 


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The cure for the common Salsa

We here at Salsabol HQ love salsa, and tried lots and lots of it. Everytime we are in the grocery store, we always feel obliged to try any new salsa we find. (Maybe we should be judges for salsa cookoffs?).

Though we try a lot of salsa, sometimes the range of flavors we find can get a bit boring. We love unique flavors, which is why we are such big fans of the salsas sold over at Desert Pepper Trading Company. They have so many crazy flavors (alongside normal ones too), that we’re always kept on our toes. So go check out the best salsa north of El Paso!

Peach and Mango? In salsa!

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Have a Salsabol Superbowl!

Thrillist thinks that the Salsabol will make the perfect party companion for the Superbowl! (Or should we say Super’bol?)  As the premier chip-and-salsa eating event of the year, nothing is more indispensable than a Salsabol.  And when everybody else shows up to the party with something boring like beer, you’ll have the gift that trumps them all!  Check out our coverage on Thrillist here!

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A Salute to our Troops!

We here at Salsabol HQ just wanted to take a minute to thank our veterans and active-duty troops at home and abroad. Happy Veterans Day!


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Tom Gha ‘bol


Who says you can’t use the Salsabol for more than just salsa? A lot of people have let us know that the Salsabol is great for soup! Aside from the stylish design and presentation, the raised lip of the Salsabol makes the perfect handle to grab on to and transport a hot bowl of soup (as opposed to burning your hands by trying to hold the bottom).

Considering how many Salsabols we have lying around the house, we don’t really have a choice when it comes to what we use for soup–but luckily the Salsabol works fantastically.

Last night we tried our hand at something a little more exotic than we’re used to: Tom Gha Kai soup! Luckily we had pretty good instructions and came out with something delicious.

Yum!

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