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Jan 31, 2020

This week, we’re joined by Nick Guillen and Nick Ajluni, the founders of TRUFF, a fast-growing brand of upscale, truffle-infused hot sauces that are promoted as “the pinnacle of heat experience.” Founded in December 2017, TRUFF quickly became known for its sleek packaging and decadent flavors, eventually becoming one of the top-selling hot sauce brands on Amazon and a favorite among chefs and celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey, who included TRUFF on her coveted “List of Favorite Things” in 2018 and 2019. Amid surging sales, last year the company raised its first round of capital at a valuation of over $25 million.

As part of our conversation, Guillen and Ajluni spoke about how their shared backgrounds in digital media and streetwear fashion contributed to the creation of TRUFF and how Instagram factored into the brand’s design and aesthetic. They also explained why it took two years to get to a finished product their thoughtful approach to retail and why investors are betting on them as entrepreneurs as much as they are the brand.

Show notes: 

1:12: Meet Us On The West Coast. We Might Have Crunchy Pepperoni To Eat -- The episode opens with an important note about Soundcloud, details about an upcoming meet-up at our new office in San Diego, and why we can’t stop eating pepperoni crisps. The hosts also chatted about an upstart brand of yaupon drinks, sweet “little secrets,” (another) new hangover beverage, why flavor usually counts more than function and a seltzer brand that seems a bit agitated.

16:50: Nick Guillen & Nick Ajluni, Co-Founders, TRUFF -- In an interview recorded at the 2020 Winter Fancy Food Show, Guillen and Ajluni sat down with Taste Radio editor Ray Latif for a conversation of their “luxury lifestyle, digitally native” brand, beginning with its roots on Instagram and why they chose to launch a hot sauce business. They also discussed their process for formulation and package design, learnings from prior entrepreneurial endeavors, why they are trying to “influence the influencer” on social media and the role that high-profile advisors/investors Aaron Levant and Jon Buscemi play in the company. Later, they spoke about the importance of community management and exceptional customer service, how TRUFF is merchandised at retail stores, key details that they wanted to communicate in their investor deck and what they view as their highest value for the brand.

Brands in this episode: Union Whole Earth Snacks, Cap’n Crunch, Yayaya, Hello Tomorrow, The Plug, Morning Recovery, Little Secrets, ThinkNoo, Moon Juice, Humblemaker Coffee, Hint Water, Angry Seltzer, Hello Water, Truff, Ciroc