Outstanding Alumni Award
CEO/Founder, Lola’s Fine Hot Sauce
West Des Moines, IA
(AA Liberal Arts 2008) – Ankeny Campus
With a pinch of innovation, a dash of marketing acumen and a heaping helping of hard work, Taufeek Shah has turned a family recipe into an international brand. The Founder and CEO of Lola’s Fine Hot Sauces, Taufeek graduated from DMACC with a Liberal Arts degree in 2008. Today, his hot sauce is enjoyed around the world.
Taufeek says entrepreneurialism is in his blood.
“When I was 13 years old, I decided to be a daredevil and ramp off a six-foot high loading dock on my mountain bike,” he says. “I fell face-first and wound up in the hospital for three months. I was lucky to survive and that experience pushed me to launch my first entrepreneurial stunt.”
That stunt was selling “fancy pens” that his mother, a physician, would receive from drug company reps. From there he branched out into selling baseball cards and launching his first eBay store at age 15. He says this experience continues to help him to this day.
“I have a passion for helping and a passion for delivering quality,” Taufeek says. “All of this combines together with my passion for food and family to lead me to where I am with the Lola’s brand.”
In addition to creating seven different hot sauces, five flavors of salsa and a bloody mary mix under the Lola’s brand, Taufeek has also been instrumental in helping launch the first Filipino fusion restaurant in Iowa. The eatery was recently recognized as one of the Top 25 Filipino restaurants in the United States.
In nominating him for the Outstanding Alumni Award, Chris Wood, Chief Development Officer of Make-A-Wish Iowa, cites Taufeek’s passion to pitch in … and partner.
“He donates his product and time to support local missions that align with his philanthropic passions,” Chris says. “One of my favorite attributes of Taufeek is his desire to constantly find partnership opportunities and develop collaboratives and initiatives with other small business owners. He always finds ways to be actively involved in all that is going on in Central Iowa.”
In addition to serving Make-A-Wish, Taufeek volunteers for Goodwill of Central Iowa and is a member of the Board at Proteus. Totally on brand, Taufeek’s partnership with Goodwill is pushing two businesses forward.
“Taufeek decided to work with Goodwill to provide warehousing and fulfillment for Lola’s,” says Eric Prosperi, Director of Commercial Services at Goodwill of Central Iowa. “We warehouse the product and our program participants help pick, pack and ship eCommerce and other customer orders. Our participants gain valuable work experiencing, and a paycheck and other support to prepare them for a full-time job in warehouse packaging and logistics.”
Having the opportunity to work so closely with Taufeek has helped shape Eric’s perception of DMACC as well.
“It’s clear that Taufeek’s passion for business and commitment to his community is more than just a flash in the pan,” he says. “This guy is going places and DMACC was a step on the road worth celebrating!”