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Rising Stars: Meet David Born

Today we’d like to introduce you to David “Max” Born.

Hi Max, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers?
The Chili Beak journey began several years ago in Mexico, when our founders discovered a flavorful spicy chili oil. They found it to be great on so many different meals. After moving to Salt Lake City and not being able to find anything similar to what they had back in Mexico, they began crafting their own recipe. After several months of trial and error, they created the first handcrafted batch of Chili Beak in 2014.

“Growing up in Guadalajara, Mexico, I was surrounded by delicious foods, from my grandma’s enchiladas to street tacos serving handmade tortillas, to fresh flavorful ceviches at the markets. Each is accompanied by a unique spicy salsa. There was one in particular that grabbed my Texas husband’s attention: a chili oil sauce. Once we settled in our new home, we wanted to craft our own chili oil to add a unique kick to our meals and to share with friends.”- Giselle, Chili Beak Founder.

Jump to Fall of 2019. The founders had done their best in farmer’s markets and local stores, but grew weary and had come to a fork in the road with their knowledge and experience in the food industry. Upon deciding to close their doors for good and move on to new and exciting ventures, they posted the sad news to Facebook. Being a fan of their chili oil and brand, I reached out to see if there was any way of saving Chili Beak from going away for good. We quickly made friends, and they made a metaphor that Chili Beak was their baby and they got them thru high school, but needed someone with the resources to get them to college.

That’s when we made friends. I was working as Vice President for Sevillo Fine Foods, and had been in the food manufacturing and food safety industry for over a decade. Remembering my passion for entrepreneurship and marketing, I quickly felt a calling. Not 2 months later, I turned in my resignation. With the encouragement of my boss and coworkers, I left the safe, stable salary with benefits behind, and looked ahead to the road of freedom. The founders and I made a deal, and the acquisition was made for me to be the new owner of the brand and company.

Shortly after taking the reins, Chili Beak launched several new products and expanded outside of Utah to over 60 specialty stores nationwide. Being a spicy food lover, artist, and entrepreneur, I felt right at home in this new venture.

Now, Chili Beak is also co-producing the Sauce Lake City Fest in June 2022. Utah’s premier food festival will feature local vendors, chefs, food trucks, a car show, live music, and more. The festival is being produced by Saucetown.net, a Utah company that promotes foodies to follow their dreams and provides business & marketing strategy, food safety & manufacturing techniques following the latest food safety guidelines.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
Is anything a smooth road in Utah? The biggest challenge for me these past 2 years has been learning to work for -and with- myself. Setting solid boundaries with work and home life is vital for anyone running their own business.

Having a safe, quiet space to work from is crucial. We are fortunate to have our headquarters and production at a downtown commissary kitchen called Square Kitchen SLC. They have been great because the place is filled with startups, entrepreneurs, and foodies. The energy surrounding the space is contagious. It has helped us to thrive while growing the brand.

Covid-19 has definitely placed many burdens on us, too. From travel restrictions, food festival and conventions being postponed, and especially the constant increase in material costs have made it near impossible to generate any profits. The cost of just the jars we use has nearly doubled since 2019, yet we can’t raise the cost to the consumer, or we risk losing sales. The cost of oil has also nearly doubled. We value quality, and use healthy sunflower oil rather than soybean or canola oil that many chili oil manufacturers use.

Chili Beak prides itself on quality while keeping the products affordable for most consumers. This leads to us creating innovative solutions in marketing and production techniques to help us grow the company amidst the economical changes we all are. being faced with.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work history?
I could go on and on, here. I’ve been a graphics arts teacher at a local high school. I’ve worked in courthouses in California. I’ve been an artist, writer, and entrepreneur for as long as I can remember. I’ve been the Art Director for Vellum Magazine in Brooklyn, NY for over a decade.

In 2010, I started F1ND Skateboard Couture and Artshare International. In 2011, founded the Lorem Ipsum Co-Op Gallery in Daybreak while sitting on the SoJo City Council and Daybreak Community Council. I’m a Regional Contact for Burning Man in the state in Utah, and served on several local boards and organizations.

As for the history that’s relevant to Chili Beak and Saucetown, our parent company… I’ve nearly got a Master’s degree in Food Safety, a greenbelt in Lean Six Sigma, am SQF, HACCP and PCQI certified, and have helped two major food companies prior to this grow to nationwide household brands. I’ve helped to produce and launch several products that ended up on menus for Cheesecake Factory, Noodles & Company, Trader Joe’s, Einstein’s Bagels, Denny’s, Au Bon Pain, Panera Bread, and several others.

This is why I strive to help people with big ideas take them to market. I consult on the side and have run my own graphic design & print agency since 1999. Building Saucetown as a leader in the food market with the experience and knowledge I’ve gained over the years puts our company in a prime position for growth.

But, enough about me. Oh wait, this article is about me.

How do you define success?
Success to me is a moving target. It evolves with us and is never something I should try to attain. In the book, Greenlights, McConaughey talked about his role model being himself in 10 years. That woke me up a bit, and helped me to appreciate the accomplishments I’ve made, hurdles I’ve overcome, and be at peace with where I am, currently.

For me, mental health is a big part of peace & happiness, which to me means success. I was diagnosed with ADHD 2 years ago, and Bipolar II Disorder in 2021. Those both have affected my life more than I gave credit to for many years. But, now that I am gaining more of an understanding of how my brain works, and have taken the steps with therapy and other treatments to help manage it, I can accept myself more wholly and completely these days.

If I have a down day, I work thru it. Remember to drink water, be patient with yourself, and know that you are not alone. Most of what keeps us from chasing our dreams are ourselves. When we get out of our own way while still holding ourselves up high, is when we can truly reach for the skies.

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Image Credits

Cat Palmer

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1 Comment

  1. Kimbol Born

    June 25, 2022 at 12:20 pm

    Fantastic article on my Nephew David ‘Max’ Born. I am so proud of him as I am still watching him develop in a great and Wonderful person that he is today. We love you Son. Uncle Kim.

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