Local start-up Red Duck Ketchup wins Graduate Venture Quest
There's no reason you can't put ketchup on everything – or so say the entrepreneurs behind Red Duck Ketchup, a Eugene specialty foods company started by UO MBA students Shannon Oliver, Karen Bonner, Kurt Barajas and Jessica Zutz.
Their marketing blurb is pretty convincing.
“We're passionate about America's favorite condiment, but we believe good ol' ketchup could use an infusion of artisan craftsmanship and quirkiness," the Red Duck owners says. "Our proprietary spice blends offer unique and satisfying flavor profiles, perfect for pairing with craft beer, top-quality burgers and a variety of other gourmet foods.”
Trendy, all-American and quite possibly something that could catch on.
The four students originally created the idea as a project for the fall 2012 New Venture Planning course, co-taught by Al Cochrane and LCE program manager Nathan Lillegard.
Three flavors of the spicy sauce were introduced to faculty and staff in an informal focus group session a few days prior to the competition. During its Venture Quest presentation, the team also offered samples – complete with piping hot french fries – to the judges' panel. The judges named Red Duck Ketchup the winning entry in both the Venture Quest and the elevator pitch competition.
If all goes according to plan, the victory is just a start for the Red Duck team. The students hope to take their product through the college's entire Venture Launch Pathway – a five-part course and fellowship program that gives MBA students an experiential learning opportunity – and beyond.
A fourth ketchup flavor is scheduled to take flight in 2014.
- from UO's Lundquist College of Business