Skip to content

230: “I Quit” TV Show Star,  Mike D’s BBQ

Michael De Los Santos, Founder at Mike D's BBQ

On this 230th episode of “Marketing Today,” host Alan Hart interviews Michael De Los Santos, founder of Mike D’s BBQ. Mike is a part of the entrepreneurs being profiled on the Discovery Channel Show, I Quit.

We start our conversation with Mike’s background and how he found his way into the world of BBQ. With previous experience in the nonprofit sector and fighting for social justice, Mike believes that “if you have food, you can bring anybody in town to the table to talk while they’re eating.” Then, Mike dives into his experience on the Discovery Channel reality show, I Quit, and how it has taught him so much about the benefits of networking and being uncomfortable.

Mike approaches his marketing and advertising in two ways; “one, to get sales, and two, to build that brand awareness, so people know who you are.” We talked about Mike’s experience as a father when he lost his 6-month old son and how it changed his perspective on life. “Go after all your passions and what makes you happy. Otherwise, you might not get the chance to do that.” Lastly, Mike elaborates on the challenges and opportunities that come with the world’s current climate, both from social justice to the pandemic!

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”:

  • Mike grew up all over the place but made his way to Durham. 1:28
  • Becoming a reality star was never something that Mike wanted to do. 2:14
  • Mike D’s BBQ is a line of sauces and dry rubs that emerged on the scene in 2014 and have exploded ever since. 2:47
  • The draw to BBQ came from a love of the North Carolina BBQ that Mike would eat as a kid. 3:28
  • Different regions have their own styles of BBQ, and Mike tries to combine the best of all worlds. 4:41
  • Before getting into the world of BBQ, Mike and his wife were fighting for economic justice. 6:42
  • Getting people together over food is more effective than other methods. 7:54
  • It was a difficult transition from a steady paycheck to the life of an entrepreneur with a family. 8:44
  • Mike and his wife are very used to working together, so running a business together has been a smooth process. 10:05
  • Hispanic and African American roots inspired the unique flavors that one can find at Mike D’s BBQ. 11:23
  • Brisket is Mike’s favorite meat to work with, even though it is usually a Texas thing. 12:24
  • Working with the show has given Mike the ability to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. 13:20
  • What it was like working with three very outgoing and successful people as an introvert. 14:55
  • Now more than ever, businesses have to learn how to pivot when things aren’t working. 16:13
  • After making his first sale and winning an award, Mike knew that he was onto something and had a business. 17:45
  • Having an already-established online business helped Mike D’s pivot with the global pandemic. 18:48
  • Advertising/marketing to grow sales vs. advertising/marketing to increase brand recognition. 20:23
  • Social media ads and brand-awareness sponsorships are working very well right now. 21:02
  • Working with NASCAR isn’t as difficult when working with the family-owned teams. 22:25
  • Living in a military family and moving around all the time prepared Mike to pivot and market himself. 24:41
  • Losing his son at only 6-months old changed Mike’s perspective on life. 25:34
  • Mike’s book, My Heart Warrior, chronicled the experience of losing a child through the father’s eyes. 27:04
  • Make no excuses. Pursue what makes you happy in the long-term because at the end of the day that’s what matters. 29:22
  • Right now, there is a lot of support to help black businesses, and TheNileList is doing a great job of helping people do that. 31:30
  • There’s an opportunity to show the black community that their lives matter, but it must be done in the right way. 32:59
  • Marketing with other marketers is an excellent opportunity to become a national brand. 34:13

Resources Mentioned:

Subscribe the podcast:
Listen in iTunes (link:
Listen in Google Podcasts (link:
Listen in Spotify (Link: )

Connect with the Guest:

Connect with Marketing Today and Alan Hart: