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Reggae Reggae sauce man says: “Without my faith I would not be where I am today”

Entrepreneur Levi Roots tells Matthew Murray about the spiritual foundations that have shaped his life ...

Entrepreneur Levi Roots tells MATTHEW MURRAY about the spiritual foundations that have shaped his life

If you haven’t heard of Levi Roots, it’s likely that you have come across his spicy barbecue relish.

Reggae Reggae Sauce was invented by the lively Jamaican, who lives with his family in Brixton, South London, and has become one of the nation’s favourite celebrity chefs after gaining investment for his brand on the BBC TV show Dragons’ Den.

Roots, 54, sold 4,000 bottles of Reggae Reggae Sauce at the Notting Hill Carnival in 2006. He later took his creation to a food trade show where he was advised by a BBC producer to audition for Dragons’ Den.

Following his TV appearance, Roots’ life changed forever.

He took the unusual step of singing to the Den’s entrepreneurs before persuading ‘dragons’ Peter Jones and Richard Farleigh to invest £25,000 each in return for a 20% stake in his company.

Soon afterwards, supermarket chain Sainsbury’s announced they would be stocking the sauce in 600 of their stores and the product is now available in most British food shops.

Roots claims the company is worth a staggering £30 million and he recently went into partnership with the fast food outlet KFC for the launch of their limited edition Reggae Reggae burger.

Speaking about his Christian faith, he says: "Being from the Caribbean, I was surrounded by churches, so it is inevitable that I would have no choice but to be brought up in the faith," he says.

"Without my faith I would not be where I am today. It has gotten me through some very rough times in my life. I tend to pray for others, for the wellbeing of mankind. And I pray for my friends and family."

Levi regularly reads the Bible and sought the Scriptures before his famous appearance on Dragons’ Den.

"Psalm 23:1 says that the Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want," he smiles.

"This is the passage that I read over and over before I went on Dragons’ Den. I asked my mother to lend me the taxi fare to get to the BBC studios and she told me to go and read my Bible! I did just that and I have not wanted since."

Roots admits he’s surprised that Reggae Reggae Sauce has boomed so much but he isn’t in the mood for slowing down.

When asked what his future plans are, he responds: "World domination! I’d like to grow the business internationally and retire to Jamaica.

"We have already launched the sauces in Jamaica and are looking at expanding to North America, Australia, Africa and Japan.

"I was always confident that it would be a success. I really believed that I had a unique product. I didn’t know it would be quite so successful though!"

And Roots’ advice to anyone wanting to follow in his footsteps and become a business high-flyer: "You need to have a watertight business plan. It may change over time but you will always have it to refer to, to check that you’re on course.

"You have to believe in your idea or no one else will.

"You also need to find a mentor, someone who can steer you through the pitfalls associated with business –  someone who has experience in a similar field.

"I am fortunate in that I have Peter Jones as my mentor. I have learned so much from working with him.

"If I didn’t have passion and self-belief, I wouldn’t have been able to overcome the problems that I faced along the way. All businesses encounter difficulties and it’s your passion that will get you through."
 

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