While a student at Hiram College, Nana Kwamena Takyi-Micah caught the entrepreneurial bug. At the same time he was craving the spicy flavors of his mother’s cooking in his native Ghana. So Takyi-Micah put the two loves together and created Micah’s Specialty Foods.
Micah’s signature product -- Supreme Sauce – is a taste of Ghana in a spicy tomato-based sauce and marinade with habanero and green peppers and onion. “My mom gave me the recipe,” Takyi-Micah says. “She taught me how to cook. What makes it unique is its flavor and versatility”
After getting his mom’s recipe, Takyi-Micah began making the sauce and passing it out to friends on the Hiram campus. People loved it, and in 2011 he was pitching his product against 11 other Northeast Ohio colleges at the Entrepreneur Immersion Week at Ashland University. He didn't fare very well.
“We didn’t even make it to the top three,” Takyi-Micah recalls. “So I started putting together a business plan.”
Four years later, Takyi-Micah today works out of his East Cleveland home and bottles Micah’s Supreme Sauce at the Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen. His sauce is in 20 stores around the region, including Zagara’s Marketplace in Cleveland Heights and Narrin Asian Spice and Sauce at the West Side Market.
Takyi-Micah spends his weekends passing out samples in local stores to promote his product. “We demo it as a salsa because the cost of chips is cheaper than doing marinated meat,” he explains. “Because of its versatility we’re able to reach different demographics. Most of our customers are white, but Hispanics like it, lots of Africans, and Asians like it as a salsa. It’s like everyone’s product.”
Sales have been good -- Takyi-Micah sells an average of 20 to 25 cases a month – and he plans to soon expand to Columbus, Indiana and New York City. “We want to be in 10 other African markets in the next 10 months,” he predicts, adding that there are more than 100 African markets in New York alone. “We want to establish a presence and promote the product efficiently.” Takyi-Micah has one employee to assist with social media and marketing and has a photographer on contract.
Now Takyi-Micah is working on additional products, including a powdered ghost pepper rub for kabobs and his own version of a hot and spicy barbeque sauce.