Alums who do cool things: Scott Norton ’08 and Mark Ramadan ’08
Scott Norton and Mark Ramadan did the unthinkable — they challenged one of the largest monopolies in our society: ketchup. Like Kleenex and Band-Aids, Heinz is synonymous with the product itself. Rather than accept this fate and be subjected to a life of one-ketchup consumption, these alums created an answer to the catsup establishment in the form of Sir Kensington’s Gourmet Scooping Ketchup. The brand has wit! Charm! Rebellion! Mustaches! How very Brown of them.
We got in touch with Norton and Ramadan and asked them some of BlogDH’s most pressing questions.
Ketchup is one of the only food products that is served everywhere from McDonald’s to the Four Seasons Hotel. What we noticed, with surprise, was that there is essentially no variety or choice in quality, texture or taste in the category. Across mustards, salsas, yogurts, olive oils, chips and countless others, there are seemingly endless varieties, but with ketchup this wasn’t so. We were intrigued by this gap in the market, and began investigating to see if we could deliver something compelling.
How did you come up with the idea for scooping ketchup?
Nearly all gourmet condiments (mustards, jams, etc) are scooped one spoonful at a time, rather than squeezed en masse. Our goal is to bring this dearness to ketchup, both in the quality of ingredients, as well as the way it’s packaged and served.
You use a mustache as your icon and have a pretty eccentric website. How did you come up with the name and persona that embodies your ketchup?
We naturally had a lot of fun with the project at the onset, which allowed some of our more absurd ideas to become fixtures of the brand. From a strategic perspective, we knew we would never get people’s attention unless we entertained them and encouraged curiosity about what was inside the jar.
Are you planning on adding any other condiments to your line?
We very much enjoy the focus that we’re able to dedicate to ketchup, the king of condiments. That being said, there is definitely room for innovation in the space, but nothing is officially on the horizon. If and when there is a new product developed in the Kensington kitchen, there will no doubt be a tasting party back at Brown to receive feedback.
What is your favorite way to eat your ketchup?
On an egg, cheese and cilantro sandwich for breakfast.
Are you hiring? Are you in the process of expanding your business?
We have just expanded our team with some very talented individuals, all who come from different parts of the food world, though we are looking for summer interns. If you’re interesting in disrupting one of the last American monopolies and getting some hands-on startup experience, email us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Forbes 30 under 30 Food & Wine category recently recognized you for this venture. How did that feel? Did you throw or consume any food/ketchup in celebration?
We are flattered and extremely fortunate to be recognized by Forbes. It was an honor to share the list with many other highly-accomplished people. The news was celebration enough, though I [Scott] do recall having a glass of wine (or two) at lunch that day.
Any advice you have for students who want to pursue a start-up?
- MR: Incubate your product or service before launching to the public. That’s what allowed us [to] refine the offering over time. Whether this means pursu[ing] the project part-time before diving in, or launching small before going big, just make sure to take your time. You can’t make a second first impression.
- SN: Start small and make prototypes as soon as possible. Focus on doing, not talking.
What was your favorite class at Brown?
Danny Warshay’s “Entrepreneurial Process: Innovation in Practice” and Ivo Welch’s “Corporate Finance” both reinforced how creative and technical thinking go so well together, and both taught me [Scott] not to be afraid of numbers.
Anything else you want to tell us?
I [Mark] truly don’t think Sir Kensington’s would have happened at a different school. Brown is an incredibly unique environment filled with curious, open, and brilliant people. Never be afraid to make a connection in class and to pursue potentially crazy ideas – you might not get the chance again.
*This is the freshman dorm each lived in. We are just assuming they had home-dorm pride.