as far as the business side of things?
Hopefully you have read the 'so you wanna start a food biz' thread (linked for others~ ). That answers a lot of the basic business questions. Beyond that, the biggest thing I tell people is-
don't expect to throw some sauce on a website and get rich. It don't work that way! Ya gotta pound the pavement, or more precisely huddle under the EZ-UP, every week, get that customer base that will bleed over into the stores, who will then start to carry your products. It's hard to get people to pay $7 a bottle for something they haven't tasted. In-Person is the way to build your customer base. And I would also suggest at least 6 months of FM type venues so you can directly hear what customers are saying about your sauces.
About the sauces...whatever heat level most people here say they like...cut it in half! or MORE! Most sauce makers say their milder sauces sell more than the hotter ones. You've probably heard me say this before, but after almost 25 years of making and selling salsa, it's still the same ratios-
25%Mild=0 heat (yep, that's right, not a single jalapeno in sight)
50% Medium = 3-4/10
25% Hot = 6-7/10
2% scorcher = 8+/10
If you want to make the hottest sauce EVER and only sell a few (2% of the market) go for it~ there's a lot of competition~
If you wanna sell sauces and make money$$, make a mild-medium sauce (75% of the market)
Fermentation is becoming a really big thing in the sauce world. It's been around forever, but finally people are realizing that RoosterSauce tastes different and that is because of the fermentation. I've seen a show (Maybe on HowThat'sMade?) of a place in Cali that does small batch fermentation, in the show they were making a habanero batch.
It is totally do-able, the logistics just have to be sorted out. Mainly, you will need a space with all the prep sinks, wash sinks, table spaces, cooking apparatus, choppers, etc....and a place that can store the buckets while fermenting.
Most people weekend-warrior for a while and I think that is the BEST way to get the feet wet without totally jumping into the deep end.
If you have specific questions about something unique you are considering or thinking about, fire away!
Oh, and co-packers- lots use them, lots don't. You just have to figure out what works for your product. If you are looking at fermented sauces, personally, I wouldn't rely on a co-packer to babysit the batches, and plus, you will will be paying storage fees for the buckets to sit in their processing plant, where they may not like the smell......:shrug: I dunno, I just feel like I would never rest easy unless I had control of the batches, where I could stop in and check on them daily/weekly, keep an eye on things, wiggle the pulp down under the joos...