Mike D’s BBQ is an award-winning line of signature BBQ sauces and all-purpose dry rubs. Mike De Los Santos discovered his love for BBQ at a young age on a family trip to North Carolina at a small restaurant. He eventually worked on a food truck where BBQ was served and he became the preferred cook of customers because of his talent and creativity. He began writing a blog reviewing different brands and ultimately came to the conclusion what he was looking for did not yet exist. To find what he thought was the perfect combination of sweet, smoky, and a little bite, he would have to create his own!
In 2013, De Los Santos launched his business out of the trunk of his car. Slowly but surely, he found customers who spread the word of the unique flavor in Mike D’s products. He piled up awards and world championships for the flavors he created. He found customers in all 50 states, and began to expand into retail stores.
Mike D’s BBQ won its first world championship win in 2017. As his products gained popularity, he found more and more customers through word of mouth. He also began to find retail partners. His business was starting to take shape.
When the pandemic shut down events and competitions, he opened his own store in Durham, North Carolina. He had the product. He had the confirmation of thousands of strangers who tried his sauce. But needed to graduate his business operations to meet the growing demand.
“Inventory management became really challenging as we grew—and dealing with some of the supply chain issues from the pandemic didn’t help,” said De Los Santos. “I’ve had to work hard to budget and manage cash flow so that I have enough inventory for my retail partners.”
The burden of managing budgets and cash flow through spreadsheets and accounting software became much more cumbersome as he grew, and he’s not nearly done expanding his business.
“Ultimately, I want to have a retail partner in all 50 states,” said De Los Santos. “In order to do that, I needed a way to forecast cash and see the impact of every dollar I spend in real time.”
De Los Santos runs his storefront, manages business operations, and provides the secret sauce that sets his products apart. With all of that responsibility, he’s always looking for ways to be more efficient.
“I saw an ad for Viably on instagram and it looked like it could address a lot of the time I was wasting,” said De Los Santos. “It’s a way to pull in my data and categorize everything. If I could do cash flow forecasting based on what’s going on with my business at the time, that would be extremely beneficial.”
De Los Santos connected his accounts to Viably and immediately saw cash insights that were not available through his banking and accounting tools at the time.
De Los Santos describes the difference very simply.
“It’s a way for my business to be proactive in dealing with finances instead of reactive,” he said. “I can see how my decisions affect future cash flow. I can budget and plan for opportunities to produce and ultimately sell more product.”
Mike D’s BBQ is building toward its owner’s goal of finding a retail partner in all 50 states, but it hasn’t lost the sense of community in the store front. Becoming more efficient in business operations also helps De Los Santos spend more time on his passion: sharing barbecue with his community.
“For me, barbecue is life,” said De Los Santos. “I’m happy to share tips with anyone who comes in, whether they buy something or not—and when people try the sauce, they usually see the difference.”
And as he continues to grow, more and more customers throughout the country will feel the same as Durham, North Carolina.
“When anyone in the country thinks of barbecue, I want them to think of Mike D’s BBQ.”