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Student Entrepreneur John Daughtery Creates 'Cue Sauce

This story is part of a four-part series featuring Cameron School of Business student entrepreneurs.

John Daugherty III is a senior international studies major and business minor. He enjoys cooking six days a week, and he is now manufacturing and selling a signature barbecue sauce called ’Cue Sauce.

“My dad and I came up with this recipe 10 years ago,” Daugherty said. “We would put it on steaks and chicken.” When he met a family friend willing to go into business with him, they joined forces and started ’Cue Sauce.

“It’s one thing when someone tells you they like it; it’s another when someone brings a friend over and says ‘This is good. You have to try it.” Daugherty said. With his recipe, Daugherty and his business partner, Tommy Holmes III, started the company, and they operate out of a warehouse with a commercial kitchen.

“We cook it and bottle it and do everything ourselves,” he said. While they have filed an application for a commercial kitchen license, they have sold about 40-50 gallons on a home-brew basis through the company’s website and through referrals. They have promoted their sauce at an area chili cook-off and as a member of the Devil’s River Mountain Men cooking team at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, where they gave away samples.

Daugherty describes the ’Cue Sauce as “sweet, tangy and spicy,” the only sauce he knows of that has no tomato products. He recommends using the sauce as a marinade while cooking or after cooking.

“I’ve used it to make a Bloody Mary, potatoes and drizzle it on top of asparagus,” he said. “Really, you could put it on top of anything.”

The sauce maker is a full-time student while he runs his business. He often checks his e-mail in between classes for orders, and visits the office after class to package and ship orders. “It takes up just as much time as school does.”

Daugherty said taking a business course from Dr. Charlene Dykman, professor of management, helped him while he was building the company. He was able to apply what he learned in class, and he gave Dr. Dykman a bottle of his sauce.

“It’s the best barbecue sauce in the history of mankind!” Dr. Dykman said. She has used it on fish and a variety of other dishes, and applauds his sauce, as well as his business efforts. “It’s been interesting to see him progress,” she said. “He took a very methodical approach to the packaging and to the competition. I think it’s going to work, I really do.”

Daugherty is working to graduate and plans to continue devoting time to the venture to help it grow. “It’s something that takes a lot of passion and a lot of dedication,” he said. “It’s something I can take with me and allow other people to enjoy as well.”

UST Resources for Entrepreneurs

For students who are looking for more resources for starting and growing their own businesses, UST offers an undergraduate class, MGMT 3330: Small Business Institute, taught by Andrea Condon, and a graduate class, MBA 5362: Entrepreneurship, taught by Dr. Cristian Morosan, assistant professor of management and marketing.


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