Gergely and Levente Pocs believe Dutch cuisine can do with a little spicing up. That’s why these Hungarian brothers, who both study International Business and Management Studies in Breda, are looking to conquer the Dutch market with chilli sauces from their home country.
Over 6 months ago, they decided to bring Chilion to the Dutch market. ‘My girlfriend joined Chilion in Hungary’, Gergely says. This sparked the Pocs brothers’ interest in these chilli sauces. ‘We got in touch with the manufacturers. They told us they were doing well and already had expansion plans of their own.’
Dutch people are increasingly concerned with what’s on their plate and where it comes from. This made Gergely and Levente willing to take the risk to bring the sauces to the Netherlands. ‘Our parents also run a business. We were already toying with the idea of setting up shop ourselves. Chilion came at exactly the right time. We now have the exclusive rights to sell it in the Netherlands.’
The Chilion chilli sauces mix some of India’s hottest chillies with traditional Hungarian ingredients. The tomato sauce from the Habanero, for example, is produced in Hungary using hand-picked tomatoes. ‘All the ingredients are top quality’, Gergely says. ‘Although preservatives make up less than 1 percent of the sauces, their shelf life is very long. An open jar will keep in the fridge for a year.’
You don’t need much of it to spice up your dinner. One teaspoon will make a world of difference. The chilli packs a ‘diabolical punch’, the two write on their website. ‘My brother is the chef’, Gergely says. ‘He experiments with the Chilion products. The other day, he even put it in a salad.’ Levente adds: ‘A little bit is enough to give a dish a real boost.’
The brothers receive business support from the Starterslift foundation. This Avans partner helps them to market their product and offers them the opportunity to talk to experts from the food industry and to other business owners. Gergely and Levente sell their products on the weekends at food markets and events. Starterslift provides them with financial support.
As they do not have regular sales outlets yet, the Pocs brothers rely on markets for now. The upside of this being that it gives visitors the opportunity to sample the product. ‘The question we are asked most often is whether it is similar to sambal’, Levente says. ‘But it is in a league of its own. The flavour really comes out in the cooking process. 75 percent of people who sample Chilion on the market, end up buying it. The response is very positive.’
Chilion has recently also become available online. ‘We hand out discount coupons from our market stall to drive customers to our online store. We also have a big presence on social media, such as Facebook and Instagram, and we use Google AdWords to boost our sales. We are currently focused on trying things out to see what works.’
Chilion will soon be available in Rotterdam’s Markthal, a true paradise for foodies. The Pocs brothers will sell their products there for 1 month. ‘We have already signed the contract, so now we have to wait for our turn.’