News & Analysis

A chilli sauce startup with a product that sums up 2020 just raised $2 million from crowdfunding

- August 8, 2020 2 MIN READ
Bunsters founder Renae Bunney with her hot sauce. Photo: Dave Fowler


Western Australian hot sauce startup Bunster has landed 2020 biggest crowdfunding campaigns, raising $2 million on Birchal from 1571 supporters.

The startup’s best known and best-selling product – “Shit the Bed” hot sauce – is considered too rude for major supermarkets to stock, but has become a cult favourite among chilli sauce aficionados.

Founder Renae Bunney turned Bunsters into a global brand five years ago with a $250,000 Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign in 2014 to produce her first large batch of sauce.

Her 2020 crowdfunding campaign closed 90 minutes before Thursday’s scheduled deadline after it hit the $2 million target for a 22.8% stake in the business. Bunney retains a 66% majority stake, valuing Bunsters at $8.78 million following the raise.

Her sauce brand produces four products including a “Black Label” hot sauce – rated at 99,000 scovilles (a measure of heat in chillies) compared to 35,000 scovilles for the “Shit the Bed” sauce. At $30 for a 236ml bottle of Black Label, Bunney says it’s more expensive by volume than many champagnes. The other products are a “Posh” BBQ sauce and a 7/10 hot sauce.

Sales topped $1 million in 2019 and sat at $730,336 in the last six months of 2019. Bunney said sales in March 2020, as covid-19 hit, were double 12 months earlier. Bunsters posted a net profit of $18,753 in the six months to December 31 last year.

The company’s success has in part been driven by Amazon, where the Shit the Bed product is regularly the top-selling hot sauce.

With just two staff and outsourced production, she plans to use the raise to expand production as well as the range of products. Halfway through the campaign, Bunney announced that the first new product is a chilli vodka infused with the Shit the Bed sauce. Bunney said she came up with the idea after drinking Bloody Mary cocktails when she was stuck at home with her children during Perth’s covid-19 lockdowns.

“If you’re game enough to drink the vodka straight it’s mind blowing,” she said.

“Our Hot Sauce is already killing it on the global stage and we can leverage that popularity with a flavoured vodka with the same name.”

Birchal co-founder Matt Vitale said the Bunsters campaign was the biggest of the year and beat the biggest raise for FY2019 – the Seabin Project’s $1.8m.

“We’re thrilled to have had the opportunity to work with the Bunsters team, achieving a great result at a time when we all need a bit of good news!” he said.

“And it’s 2020, so entirely appropriate for the biggest raise of the year to be for a product called Shit the Bed.”