University of Missouri-Columbia students Jack Schroder and Brian Dugan may be “lost in the sauce,” but they have cleared a path to success.
While studying abroad in Ireland two summers ago, Schroder went to a restaurant and sampled some mustard that inspired a sauce movement. He realized he wanted to bring home the diverse flavors he found abroad.
Soon, he established Lost in the Sauce: a specialty sauce store that offers local, regional and international sauces.
Schroder, an engineering student, partnered with Dugan, a business student, and four other friends to make MU a little more flavorful. In October 2017, they applied to the Missouri Student Unions Entrepreneurship Program, which gives student entrepreneurs a rent-free storefront in the MU Student Center for an entire school year. Ten months later, they started stocking their shelves.
“If we had tried to do it without the start-up funding, it would have taken a long time to build up the inventory that we have right now,” Schroder says. “We are not paying rent, so we can put our money into ordering more sauce. This program has allowed us to grow a lot quicker than we would have otherwise, if we had grown at all.”
Right now, the Lost in the Sauce owners are still spreading the word. They hosted Fall Fest at the beginning of November to expand their company’s name and fanbase. At the event, they transformed their backyard into an outdoor concert venue complete with hay bales, professional lighting and local artists who performed on stage in front of a “Lost in the Sauce” banner. “We definitely hope to do another one, maybe multiple,” Schroder says. “It worked out super well; people loved it.”
Dugan and Schroder don’t want Lost in the Sauce to be canned at the end of the year, though some of the owners, including Dugan, will graduate in May. They hope to expand, potentially as an online retailer or by opening their own storefront in Columbia. “It’s kind of an unusual situation for a business where you have that set deadline where people are just gonna be gone,” Schroder says.
Lost in the Sauce is developing a following among students, with some regulars coming in three times each week. A customer favorite is the California-based Formosa Roasted Peppers sauce, a creamy and smoky sauce so irresistible they’ve sold out of it three times already.
The Lost in the Sauce owners say they want to offer a taste of home to international students, and also introduce other students to more diverse flavors. “You might not know how to cook tikka masala, but if you already have the sauce prepared, that’s half the battle,” Dugan says.
Lost in the Sauce is open Monday through Friday from 10am to 3pm.
Lost in the Sauce, facebook.com/lostinthesauceofficial