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Feeling the burn with Chili Punk Berlin

Like it hot? So does Neil Numb, owner and founder of Chili Punk Berlin. As a lover of spice and heat, Numb (ironically named considering his business) wants other people to share that love.

Like so many small business owners, the idea for Chili Punk came when passion and opportunity met. “The whole chilli story started in lockdown,” says Numb. He actually converted his living room into a grow room for chilli plants, which he would then deliver to customers via bike. 

Chilli delivery was as much a way to get outside as anything else, since delivering goods was one of the only reasons people were allowed to leave the house. But then, the market grew, and a business model formed. 

Chili Punk closes the loop

From the start, Chili Punk has always been about growing and nurturing a network and spreading Numb’s newfound hot sauce hobby. 

“The idea was, we would sell people chilli plants, they would grow chilis on their balcony, we would take the chillis back and make hot sauce” 

Everyone who grows one of Neil’s chillis gets added to a Telegram group full of other growers where they can share tips and connect. And it’s working; chilli seed sales have gone up exponentially year to year. 

So what’s next for Chili Punk? It’s always been about the wider network, which is why Numb’s focus right now is organising and promoting regular Chili Fest Berlin events. These are opportunities to bring together local names in the hot sauce market and give customers an introduction to the field. 

“My job is to get new people involved in hot sauce”, Numb explains, which is why Berlin Chili Fest is more than just ‘the hottest hot sauces you’ve ever tasted’. Of course, that’s there too. One Chili Fest saw Neil and co. trying out 27 different sauces as part of the ‘Berlin’s Best Hot Sauce’ contest – and going through 10 litres of ice cream to cope with the spice. 

Chili Fest is about making people feel comfortable and showing them a fun time, and making that love for chillies come naturally. That’s Neil’s favourite thing to do, since he “never realised how important capsaicin was to humans” before he started Chili Punk.

To that end, they’ll have food trucks, entertainment, and drinks when Chili Fest rolls around in September. And, in another great example of closing the loop, there’s a twist to the drinks. 

“After they buy a margarita, we’re gonna give them five chilli seeds, and after they finish the margarita, we wash out the cup, fill it with soil, and they can plant their five chilli seeds in the same cup, with instructions for how to grow chillies”

With over 200,000 chilli seeds to hand out, this is a small business on a mission to expand. 

Chili Punk and SumUp

Getting thousands of people all around Berlin to grow chillies and love hot sauce is far from a small task, but luckily SumUp is there to make things easier. Being able to take card payments was never a question in Neil’s mind. 

“If people are asking ‘can I pay with card’, the answer should be ‘yes’”. 

Now he’s got three SumUp Solo card readers – one for each of his stalls at Chili Fest. That means he can serve customers much faster instead of shuffling his card reader from stall to stall. 

It’s not just the card payments that are important to Neil, it’s the autonomy of owning Solo. He doesn’t have to worry about keeping his phone or anything else charged, since Solo can process payments all on its own. 

“It was a natural progression. I wanted to take credit cards and didn’t want to rely on my phone to do it. So SumUp Solo was the obvious choice.” 

Chili Punk and their customers all believe in keeping it simple, which is why they’ve been very happy with SumUp. “Everyone wants the same thing: they want it to work and they want it to work quickly.” said Neil. 

Affordable and available

There are many card reader options out there, but for Neil, the simplicity and utility of SumUp’s platform won out. Not only is it quick to use, but he’s found that using SumUp for payments is cheap enough not to even notice the transaction fee.

Using SumUp has been great for Chili Punk because we’ve always been available, and not just when it comes to card payments. Anything needed for running a business is covered.

Explore card readers

When it came to just starting out, Neil mentioned “I like the [SumUp] Business Account because if you’ve ever been to a German bank as a new business, it’s very hard”, but we’re ready to support you. 

You can find a list of Chili Punk products and upcoming Chili Fest events on their website. If you’re interested in using SumUp to help your business, we’d love to hear from you. 

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Max Elias