From Managing a Billionaire’s Assets to Smoking Ribs: Andrew Buehler’s Journey to Happiness

Episode 213

Ever dreamed of swapping your suit and tie for a chef’s apron and the smoky aroma of barbecue? That’s exactly what our guest Andrew Beeler did, and he’s here to fan the flames of your entrepreneurial spirit. Andrew, a former finance professional, shares his mouthwatering journey into the world of BBQ entrepreneurship, highlighting how an online barbecue business can thrive in the e-commerce landscape. His transition from the meticulous world of finance to the craft of slow-cooked meats is not just inspiring but also a masterclass in leveraging personal passion into a successful business model.

As we navigate the smoke-infused trails of Andrew’s story, we uncover the liberating power of e-commerce, which allowed him to conduct business from any smoke-filled corner of the world. The financial acumen he honed in wealth management became the bedrock for his new venture, proving that a love for food and a head for numbers can be a match made in heaven. The conversation digs into the emotional challenges of trading security for the thrill of the unknown, and the fortitude required to embrace the digital marketing beast that is indispensable to e-commerce success.

Wrapping up our session, we chew the fat on how Andrew’s urban smokehouse concept is revolutionizing the way city slickers experience the joy of BBQ. He gives us the skinny on catering to the convenience craved by the urbanite palate while being mindful of dietary trends and diverse preferences. Before we sign off, Andrew extends a warm invitation to continue the dialogue through the smoky signals of social media, promising that this is just the appetizer to a much bigger feast of his BBQ saga. So, prepare your tastebuds and fire up your ambition, because this episode is a rare treat that’s perfectly seasoned with insights and inspiration.

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00;00;24;02 – 00;00;45;24
Unknown
Welcome, everyone to the Firing the Man Podcast. On today’s episode, we have the honor to interview an interviewer. Andrew is a finance professional turned beauty enthusiast and entrepreneur. Andrew spent ten years in finance and wealth management and has recently pivoted into entrepreneurship and food. Two of our favorite topics to talk about on this podcast. Welcome to the show, Andrew.

00;00;45;25 – 00;01;11;06
Unknown
Thanks for having me, David again. Happy to be here. Absolutely. So to start things off, can you please share with our listeners a little bit about your background and path from finance to Pitmaster, an e-commerce business founder? I’m originally from the Chicagoland area. Definitely grew up kind of around a lot of food and when I was in school, either was involved in leadership positions or even started the clubs myself or dedicated, you know, doing and doing big cookouts on campus.

00;01;11;07 – 00;01;35;21
Unknown
College, I was at an annual pig roast. The entire school kind of always just loved food. Definitely a passion and a hobby on the side. But originally I pursued a career in financial services and ultimately COVID happened. We all spent a lot more time home alone thinking about, you know, what we want to do with our lives. And if we’re happy with kind of where we currently are positioned and living in New York City, I also couldn’t help but notice that every single day there appeared to be more and more Amazon boxes in the lobby.

00;01;35;22 – 00;01;54;16
Unknown
What started as a mail room that was kind of a you know, a closet with some packages in it. Within a matter of months, it basically became the entire lobby. I thought it was almost like walking in Christmas morning or a distribution center or something, or just so many boxes. It got me thinking, you know, I think this e-commerce trend, as has happened for for a while, but is likely going to continue to happen.

00;01;54;17 – 00;02;22;18
Unknown
And there’s definitely categories and products that have been more challenging to deliver direct to consumer in the past but are becoming easier and easier and refrigerated or products that require climate control, I felt were one of those categories. And as people during COVID kind of hesitated to go to the grocery store themselves and began to potentially consider grocery delivery online, I thought that might be one of the frontiers that had a bit of momentum in it for for something that’s going to have some natural drivers to grow it and begin tinkering with some ideas.

00;02;22;19 – 00;02;37;16
Unknown
Ultimately, I settled on a barbecue business not only because of my passion and kind of experience with it, but also the thought that smoking Iraq or ribs for 3 to 5 hours or a brisket for, you know, 8 to 12 plus hours is pretty inconvenient for most. If we do that vacuum seal it and ship it to people.

00;02;37;16 – 00;02;53;10
Unknown
I think there’s a lot of people that enjoy barbecue but are intimidated by the cut times. Maybe they don’t own a smoker, maybe they live in a city, they don’t have a backyard. There’s there’s definitely a couple of ways to kind of pitch a value out of having a pre-cooked solution. And that’s how I ultimately landed on barbecue and Ecom.

00;02;53;12 – 00;03;10;20
Unknown
You know, shortly after COVID took a leap of faith and have loved it ever since. Awesome. I want to focus in on from making that observation in the mailroom to sending out that first rack of ribs. What did that process look like? When did you decide to fire the man? Can you take us through that a little bit?

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00;03;10;20 – 00;03;27;08
Unknown
It’s a little bit cliche, but I actually love it. I woke up New Year’s Day and I was like, what are my New Year’s resolutions? And I was like, I’m done. I’m done working for the man. And I just sat down on New Year’s Day and I was at my computer for probably, I don’t know, 8 to 12 hours and just ripped a 15 page business plan.

00;03;27;09 – 00;03;44;07
Unknown
Obviously, that plan pivoted and had originally I thought it was going to be a niche food distribution business and then ultimately, you know, settled on a barbecue and DDC. But I was tinkering with like, how do I get into food? And I saw some of these trends in e-comm and I saw some trends and kind of other other areas of the market.

00;03;44;07 – 00;03;58;27
Unknown
And after a couple of months, kind of settled on the business plan or what I ultimately wanted to pursue. Then the next question was, all right, well, how do we execute this? It’s kind of easy to envision what I’ll call the five year plan, which is, you know, I want to have a diverse a diverse menu, not just one product.

00;03;58;27 – 00;04;19;26
Unknown
When I originally started, I had just one product. Now I have two. We’re going to have three in a matter of weeks here. It was easy to think of, you know, you want a full menu, you know, a couple different protein options, complementary sides, you know, the product to be available nationwide. But how do you how do you kind of really water that down into something that is enough of like a proof of concept to just to run at it with like very limited resources.

00;04;19;26 – 00;04;35;29
Unknown
And so the idea was let’s just do one product which we chose pork, baby back ribs. And the reason we chose that is because we kind of said, Hey, the two most iconic and like labor intensive dishes are ribs or brisket. So we’re going to launch one or the other. And we ended up doing ribs, and now we have two products and the second one was naturally brisket.

00;04;36;00 – 00;04;58;03
Unknown
How do we not invest in a bunch of like heavy equipment, machinery, people, labor? How do we how do we de-risk this from a from a financial perspective to really see if this makes sense before we go all in financially? And that’s what attracted me to crowdfunding. So I did a Kickstarter campaign as for those who aren’t familiar with crowdfunding, it essentially allows you to get IOUs.

00;04;58;03 – 00;05;18;10
Unknown
You say, Hey, if you give me 20 bucks, I’ll give you a T-shirt. If you give me a hundred bucks, I’ll send you some racks of ribs and you can have different incentives at different thresholds. But ultimately you can collect, amass a massive sum of money in exchange for preorders. And so by doing the Kickstarter, I was able to raise $30,000 without ever making a product, without ever hiring someone and saying, okay, awesome.

00;05;18;11 – 00;05;36;03
Unknown
There actually are a couple hundred people that want to give this product a shot. Now, I can, you know, work with a contract manufacturer. Now I can go to a distribution center and I can approach some of these parties that I need in order to make this thing successful. But I have some money in my pocket. I no longer appear like a guy with just an idea.

00;05;36;03 – 00;05;56;28
Unknown
I mean, I’ve got a couple other customers, I’ve got a couple other orders. This this, this whole process is dearest. And so that allowed me to essentially approach these third parties and appear like something they should entertain someone they should actually have a real conversation with. And so we did a Kickstarter in July 2022 and ultimately launched a website and started shipping product in September of 2020.

00;05;56;28 – 00;06;15;20
Unknown
To, as I mentioned in 2022 is kind of New Year’s Day was when we started tinkering with how do we what do we want to do that? And we made the business plan. And you know, from New Year’s Day till call it March, was the business plan adjustments or figuring out what what we actually wanted to do. And then I would say march to July was the planning of how do we execute a successful Kickstarter?

00;06;15;21 – 00;06;36;06
Unknown
Who are the parties that need to be in the room in order to make something happen? If we are successful? The Kickstarter and yeah, the whole process took about nine months to get off the ground from idea to to successfully mailing products to people. It’s an incredible story, by the way, and I think, you know, a couple hundred people raising their hands saying, hey, I’ll take some ribs or I’ll take some brisket, Like that’s more than friends and family.

00;06;36;06 – 00;06;54;10
Unknown
And so, you know, you have an idea whenever like a bunch of people sign up for it. And so on Kickstarter, you raise all the money and then do you have to deliver the products by a certain timeline or what? What kind of roadmap were you working with once that once that finalized? Kickstarter is pretty generous because there’s a variety of projects that are on there.

00;06;54;11 – 00;07;13;22
Unknown
Some of them are, you know, people are developing software tools or games, other people are delivering physical products. So I was in the physical product category space. Some people don’t deliver the product for for many months or even a year. I was actually I’m like the relatively quick or fast end of most Kickstarters since I deliver the product, I think about six weeks after the campaign ended.

00;07;13;22 – 00;07;28;00
Unknown
And that was largely because from that period of March to the Kickstarter launching, I’d already met with like a handful of distribution partners. I’d already done product testing in terms of like how the ribs are going to be cooked and how they were going to taste. And you know what seasoning and sauce is going to be on them and stuff.

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00;07;28;00 – 00;07;43;24
Unknown
So and so that was all outlined. So Mike, my Kickstarter was I think that was part of the reason I had success on it is most Kickstarter campaign scale. But I think one of the ways to like de-risk it and really inspire people is like clearer and more exact. You can be with the product you’re going to ultimately deliver and the timeframe you’re going to deliver it.

00;07;43;24 – 00;08;04;12
Unknown
And the more confident or more willing people are going to be to invest in you or to give the product a try, you’re giving a very loose plan or a loose description. People are going to be less, less interested in investing in that campaign so you can be successful and deliver the product a year later. But I think the more exact you are with your timing and product description, the more likely you are to be successful.

00;08;04;12 – 00;08;20;07
Unknown
A crowdfunding Campaign. Two more follow up questions and then I’ll kick it back to David. First one is back to I think you mentioned it was New Year’s Day, and so you’re kind of like you’re fed up. You’re like, I’m done. Was it was there like a life event that happened or were you just bored with what you were doing?

00;08;20;07 – 00;08;36;16
Unknown
And what kind of like motivated you to say, I’m pivoting? You know, I really was, as I describe it, COVID, and I was just spending more time home alone, not being able to socialize as much and reflecting. And I was 31 at the time. So I had, you know, roughly call it ten years of experience out of school.

00;08;36;16 – 00;08;49;07
Unknown
And I said, Do I want to do this for the rest of my life? I feel like I’m at a point where, you know, I’ve got a couple of bucks in the bank. I have some experience. I’m not I’m not the most tenured man in the world, but I’m not I’m no longer a complete idiot. No. Hundred 22.

00;08;49;08 – 00;09;08;08
Unknown
You know, what do we actually want to do? And it was that it was that big kind of life question I was asking myself a lot during COVID. I was like, Am I happy with my current job? Do I do I want to do this for the rest of my career? One of the things that really attracted me to e-commerce, what I’ll call a digital business, is I really wanted to not be tied to a specific geographic location.

00;09;08;08 – 00;09;30;00
Unknown
I didn’t want to be do at a specific desk, you know, a big building in Manhattan or a big building in a city. I wanted to be able to work from a computer and a cell phone from anywhere in the world. And that’s the beauty of of honestly, just digital based businesses and e-comm in particular. You know, when you’re getting things off or you’re sourcing products or trying to create your product, you might you may have to spend a lot of time in a specific location.

00;09;30;00 – 00;09;46;02
Unknown
But ultimately, once you get the flywheel moving, suddenly you can manage your computer anywhere. And that was really the main goal. It was building a digital business. And then I saw those trends that made e-commerce and barbecue some of the other categories I fit into attractive, and I felt like they had natural tailwinds. So I wanted to pursue that last follow up.

00;09;46;02 – 00;10;01;05
Unknown
One is, so I like how you kind of taken a little bit of personal passion with kind of cooking and pitmaster. And then you also you also married that with your finance background. Like not many people I know, normal people can sit down and crank out a 15 page business card and, you know, and a little bit of time.

00;10;01;05 – 00;10;30;09
Unknown
And so how much has your experience with, you know, your your finance and petmeds like how much is that helped you on a scale of 1 to 10? Like let’s say your buddy that is not in finance and they and they’re not a pitmaster like how much how much a leg up does that have for you? One of the challenges of entrepreneurship is in the beginning you have to weigh every single hat you are sales, you are legal, you are marketing, you are product innovation, you know, whatever, whatever you can think of, you know, and the big company, there’s 20 departments here, all of the.

00;10;30;09 – 00;10;51;10
Unknown
So I would say that the background in financial services really helps me with like creating the structure and the plan in terms of like how much margin to add in order to cover all these expenses and kind of some of the forecasting and planning in terms of like what will this business look like if it is successful? And it also helped me a little bit with like the contract negotiation and kind of like SLA is like service level agreements and things like that.

00;10;51;10 – 00;11;06;27
Unknown
When I was talking to like distribution and warehousing and I was talking to manufacturing when I was talking to other third parties that I’d hired at given times to help get this project off the ground, something I did not realize. And anyone that’s going to go into Ecom, I must say, you need to learn a lot about digital marketing.

00;11;06;27 – 00;11;27;05
Unknown
Digital marketing is is your sales. That’s how you acquire customers, you know, and you’re going to learn a whole new language, you know, kayak, customer acquisition cost, you know, ROA is return on ad spend. You’re going to learn all the A million new acronyms that really are kind of the lifeblood of the business. It’s are we getting customers and are we getting them at a price that justifies selling the product?

00;11;27;05 – 00;11;41;13
Unknown
And so finance and like a food passion definitely helped me with like how should this business be structured and ultimately what’s the product I want to serve? But the day to day of the business is a lot of digital marketing, and I had to learn that on the fly and I didn’t realize how much digital marketing it was going to be.

00;11;41;16 – 00;11;58;04
Unknown
And so I’m going to raise my hand. Now. If you’re thinking about e-commerce, make sure you learned about digital marketing. It’s going to be a big chunk of your day from the time you make the decision. This is what I want to do to bring them. Man. What’s that time period look like? So I ultimately left the job in June.

00;11;58;04 – 00;12;22;19
Unknown
I was like the second week of June and the Kickstarter went live in July. So I started planning, you know, New Year’s Day. So was about six months to ultimately firing the man and about seven months to the the wheels are moving. We have a live Kickstarter campaign. Things are happening. But I would say during that like March to June time period was when things got really serious in terms of this no longer was like an idea or word documents saved on my desktop.

00;12;22;19 – 00;12;44;02
Unknown
It was, you know, we’re flying to Wisconsin to meet with a cold storage and distribution center to see if, you know, they should be the partner we want to choose with for ultimately picking pack. We’re doing product testing. We’re we’re we’re starting to invest, you know, real time and some dollars into making this thing a success. So I was I was pretty pregnant coming March to the March to June timeframe.

00;12;44;02 – 00;13;01;03
Unknown
And, you know, we pulled the trigger in June and then launched in July. And then going in on that day when you are going to your superiors and saying, I have a ten year, ten years of experience in finance and I’m going into pork belly, what’s going through your mind? Do you have some doubt? Are there some things that you’re nervous about?

00;13;01;03 – 00;13;15;01
Unknown
Walk us through that day. I’m going to be honest there were, I want to say, oddly very supportive. But they they kind of got it because the way I pitched it was the way I kind of describe it to you guys in the beginning. I said, Hey, we’ve all had a lot of time to ourselves. These past two years.

00;13;15;01 – 00;13;34;13
Unknown
I’ve been doing some reflecting, as I’m sure you all have to, and I have decided I want to give something else a try. That framework, I think everyone just kind of respected or got. I mean, they said good luck and and some of them supported the Kickstarter campaign financially or just by, you know, Senate emailing the the Kickstarter to other people.

00;13;34;13 – 00;13;51;14
Unknown
And I’ve checked in with my previous employer probably once every six months, and they’re proud of the progress I made. I’ll be honest, I was confident, actually in the beginning. One of the challenges when you take when you fire the man, everyone around you is like, what are you going to do about insurance? I’m like, I thought, what about the 401k?

00;13;51;15 – 00;14;06;26
Unknown
Like, are you sure you’re going be able to pay your bills? Like, that’s the feedback you’re getting from like your family or like your close friends and your loved ones. And my whole thing was, if not now, when? Like it only gets harder, it only gets harder to fire the man every single day. Every single day you do something else.

00;14;06;26 – 00;14;23;22
Unknown
You’re getting more invested in that existing career path. You’re getting more invested, or you’re also starting to, you know, you get older. Now you have a mortgage, you get older, maybe you have dependents, now you have kids or something. And it only becomes the only becomes more pressure to like, stay on your current path as each day passes.

00;14;23;22 – 00;14;51;23
Unknown
So honestly, if you’re considering something like this, you should go as quickly as possible. You should start ASAP because it’s only going to get harder to quit as each minute passes. You’ve talked a lot about risk, and that’s my next question. I’ll kick it over to Ken, but I think a lot of people, when they’re thinking of risk, what they’re thinking of is what if this doesn’t work but they never dive deeper as you’re talking about your business plan and kind of going from New Year’s Day through executing this plan, you talk about de-risking some things.

00;14;51;23 – 00;15;10;20
Unknown
And so you need to talk about how you think of each category of risk and then how you de-risk them. And that’s definitely the finance background in me where I was talking about de-risking a lot because essentially I’ve noticed so many and even I was meeting with like the distribution center, they were, they were kind of surprised at my relatively disciplined approach, I’ll call it.

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00;15;10;20 – 00;15;26;14
Unknown
Is there a time I was asking that, hey, you know, how many SKUs do most of you do your most? It’s also important whenever you pursue a business and you’re talking to people to like basically ask them for feedback on like people they’ve worked with before that have been successful. So I went to the distribution center. I said, Hey, what does your typical customer look like?

00;15;26;14 – 00;15;46;06
Unknown
Hey, the guys that fail in six months, what did they do wrong? How many SKUs do they have? How many SKUs are the winners have? And that’s how you do a little bit of market research. I mean, you can, you know, read online and watch YouTube videos or talk to other entrepreneurs. But I mean, the best people to talk to are ultimately the people you’re going to be working with that have worked with and seen hundreds of you.

00;15;46;06 – 00;16;01;07
Unknown
And they’ve been in the business for 20 or 30 years. And so they they know the difference between the winners and the losers. You know, something that I remember the distribution center guy said is so many people come in here and think they want to launch like 80 products at the beginning. And then, you know, one or two work in 78 don’t.

00;16;01;07 – 00;16;19;06
Unknown
And then there’s a bunch of stuff they had to throw out or heavily discount. And, you know, the second I heard that, I already knew we’re doing just one product. And he was surprised. I wanted to do just one, not ten, but another line that one of my old mentors used to say, which I love, is let’s always try to take the sniper, the sniper rifle approach versus the shotgun.

00;16;19;07 – 00;16;36;28
Unknown
And what he meant by that is let’s do one thing really, really, really well and let’s keep working on that one thing until we become the best at it before we consider adding a second or third spinning plate. There’s a lot of people that do the shotgun approach where you try eight things. Maybe you’re doing eight things mediocre or, you know, six out of ten at best.

00;16;37;01 – 00;16;52;03
Unknown
I rather do one thing at a nine out of ten or a ten out of ten. And people always come to me for that one thing and I will learn how to do other things as time passes. And so another big de-risking was, okay, what’s the thing that we’re going to do the best? We’re going to have the best ribs that you can order direct to your door.

00;16;52;04 – 00;17;08;19
Unknown
All right. I don’t need to become an expert. The distribution and cold storage component and the amount of ice you put in the box, if it’s going to Texas in July versus Seattle in December, or if it’s in transit for four days instead of two days because it’s a perishable product. There’s a lot of math that goes into this.

00;17;08;20 – 00;17;22;13
Unknown
It’s you know, what size is the cooler, how much ice goes in it, blah, blah, blah. I shouldn’t even worry about that stuff. Let’s go find someone that’s great at that. Pay them to do that. I’m going to I’m going to make the best ribs. I’m going to focus on the best ribs. I’m going to find someone that has already mastered these other things.

00;17;22;18 – 00;17;41;06
Unknown
So the derisking for me was picking that one thing I want to do and then finding people that I could work with on a contract basis that could basically do everything else and allow me to be a best in class business in these other categories and as we get bigger, will potentially bring in those other functions in-house, will say, hey, we’ve we’ve mastered ribs, it’s going well.

00;17;41;06 – 00;18;02;11
Unknown
It’s it’s somewhat on autopilot now. We can improve our margins if we learn how to do this other function are we can, you know, improve our basket size if we decide to become great at brisket. Now two are we can improve in our X-Y-Z if we if we learn something else and so a de-risking for me was really just picking that one thing I wanted to be great at and then finding a bunch of partners or people to work with.

00;18;02;11 – 00;18;22;12
Unknown
Tell me be great in other categories. And now that I’m comfortable and, you know, ribs, that’s why we’re able to add another product or another product potentially, we’re going to start bringing more functions in-house. That’s how I would describe the de-risking in the most 5000 foot view kind of way possible. I really like the methodical approach you’ve taken to to kind of lodging this de-risking.

00;18;22;12 – 00;18;41;21
Unknown
It is kind of funny. David has got a background in finance and so he’s also he’s the opposite. I’m a risk taker and so he’s always like de-risking everything. And so I can kind of see that comes from a finance background is de-risking everything, which I think is great. I mean, your chances of success just incrementally go up as you break it down and de-risk each step.

00;18;41;21 – 00;19;01;06
Unknown
And so I really like that. I also want to re-emphasize how you recommended talking to your partners, your distributors, asking them that have 20, 30 years experience. Hey, what are the what are the guys are successful doing? What are the guys that are failing doing like learning from them like this is a free resource, right? You can ask them questions and they’re going to share with you and you can you can kind of modify your plan as you go.

00;19;01;06 – 00;19;16;21
Unknown
I think that’s brilliant. And you have to remember they want you to be successful, too. The last thing they want to do is work with you for six months and have you go away. The more successful you are, the more money they make as well. So they’re they’re artificially invested in you’re indirectly invested in you because, you know, they want they want your business to grow.

00;19;16;21 – 00;19;45;17
Unknown
So they get more business. To my next question, Let’s let’s get into food. And so why should somebody buy pre cooked food versus trying to learn how to cook it on their own from scratch? There’s a couple different value props they bring, and that’s part of the reason we chose the barbecue category. As I mentioned, a lot of this food is very labor intensive and I think most people, when they think about making lunch or dinner, they think about making lunch or dinner and 15 to 30 minutes max, maybe for a holiday or special occasion, you know, Thanksgiving.

00;19;45;18 – 00;20;04;16
Unknown
Yeah, you’re in the kitchen all day, but your average shattered add. I really want to commit my entire day to prepping dinner. And so the people that make, like, ribs and brisket and stuff like that is it’s it’s a culture. It’s a it’s a lifestyle. Like it’s it’s their hobby. They love the process of making it. Most people, at least who I’ve met, enjoy eating food.

00;20;04;16 – 00;20;21;24
Unknown
They don’t necessarily enjoy making it. ED So I viewed it as like, this is the the one of the food categories. We have the biggest polarization in terms of like a lot of people like to eat it. Nobody wants to make it because it’s so labor intensive. And so we really just lean into the whole time incentive of the time advantage.

00;20;21;29 – 00;20;38;13
Unknown
The other piece is, you know, it requires special equipment. Not everyone has a smoker. Most people have, you know, a gas grill or a Weber or something in their backyard. That’s also part of the reason that we marketed ourselves as Urban Smokehouse, because if you live in the city, most apartments are condos. Don’t really allow that stuff on air.

00;20;38;14 – 00;20;57;07
Unknown
If you have like a balcony or a deck, they might have like a shared decker shared roof space or outdoor space or there’s like a communal grill or jail. I’ve yet to find the building that has the communal smoker. There’s like a big chunk of like America that when they travel to a place like St Louis or they travel to a place like Texas or the Carolinas, it’s like part of their trip.

00;20;57;07 – 00;21;12;23
Unknown
They’re like, we’re going to Texas. Like we should try brisket, we’re going to the Carolinas, We should get some ribs or we’re going to Saint Louis, we should get some ribs. That’s great. I bet those people would like to eat that item more than like once a year. This is a great workaround for that. It’s a don’t have the time, don’t have the equipment.

00;21;12;24 – 00;21;28;03
Unknown
You don’t have the know how our products idiot proof it ships to your door in two or three days. Throw it in your oven. It’s ready quick Tastes amazing that that’s that’s the pit and at the other day food it just really comes down to like does it taste good? And then after that it’s all of these other things are number two or three, four or five.

00;21;28;03 – 00;21;44;16
Unknown
So first things you got to like it. So that’s why I focus on the amazing tasting ribs. But then the convenience pitch quickly sells itself for you. I agree. I think the the time alone like like I so I’ve been smoking meat for like probably ten or 12 years and I’m just I would say I’m average at it.

00;21;44;16 – 00;21;58;19
Unknown
I’m not really good, but I enjoy it. But I go to a nice restaurant that has a pitmaster that’s been doing it for a long, like it’s not even comparable, it’s way better. And so but it also takes me I got to I have to go buy it, have to prep it. I have to, you know, clean up the slow.

00;21;58;21 – 00;22;15;23
Unknown
I have to do all that stuff. And it takes a lot of time. And so I think just the convenience alone as well as if it’s really, really good as it’s kind of a no brainer. I agree. And, you know, it’s crazy because originally I thought my demographic was going to be like people in cities that are, you know, living kind of this lifestyle described.

00;22;15;23 – 00;22;35;12
Unknown
But actually a good chunk of the customers are also actually like barbecue guys who that are like, yeah, I mean, I love doing that once in a while, but I don’t want to do that every week. It’s the convenience actually speaks to the people that are about that life, too, unless they’re unless they own a barbecue restaurant themselves and are doing this quite literally five days a week or seven days a week.

00;22;35;12 – 00;22;52;19
Unknown
It’s a labor of love, but it is a labor. Not everyone wants to do it every day. Snowing. I don’t want to go outside. It’s raining, you know. Come on, take them out of the freezer. Let’s go. Absolutely. Let’s go through the process. So if someone puts an order in, can you kind of step it through from when the order gets the hits, the website, the process to when someone needs it.

00;22;52;19 – 00;23;05;29
Unknown
So it depends on where you ultimately live in the country. And it also depends on the day that you place the order. So the distribution center that we at the end of the day, it’s a product that needs to be climate controlled. So we don’t ship things on Friday through Sunday. We only send packages out Monday through Thursday.

00;23;05;29 – 00;23;24;02
Unknown
And it also depends how far away you live from the distribution center. So if it naturally gets we ship everything FedEx ground shipping. But if the estimated shipping duration is greater than three days, then we automatically upgrade your order to two day care. So all orders come within 2 to 3 days and they typically are filled the day after you place them.

00;23;24;02 – 00;23;40;14
Unknown
If it’s Monday through Thursday, it’s the week and you wait till Monday for the order to fill. If you live in a one state radius of Wisconsin, you typically get the order at one day. If you live in Florida or California or Maine or, you know, the coast far from Wisconsin as possible, you’re likely waiting three days. Fair enough.

00;23;40;14 – 00;23;57;04
Unknown
And so that also answers my my next question. It was like four. So I’ve got some family members that are in food and there’s always talking about like food ways, cooking too much. You know what I was like, It’s tough to get that right. Well, from what you’re describing, it’s like the order ship the next day. And so everything is so orders come in.

00;23;57;06 – 00;24;19;07
Unknown
You know what you need? Get it, cook it, ship it out the next day. And so it’s kind of like an assembly line. Yes and no. So production facility is different than the distribution facility. So the production visit. So basically what we do and this is also part of the de-risking, this is why we wanted to do the Kickstarter and we wanted to add a little bit of like critical mass when you watch a food business because because Ribs again, they take a long time.

00;24;19;07 – 00;24;35;07
Unknown
So if you go to a real barbecue restaurant, there’s a guy that wakes up at 5 a.m. and says, I’m cooking 100 racks of ribs today, and when they sell out, they sell out. So if you arrive at three or four in the afternoon, they might say, we’re out of ribs, but we still have the sausage and we still have the brisket or, we’re out of these items, we still have these.

00;24;35;07 – 00;24;50;05
Unknown
So there is a little bit of like forecasting and those restaurants have you build them. You know, they close when they sell out. So sometimes they close at noon and sometimes they close at 10 p.m. and I throw out a bunch of food. So we had to get a little bit of critical mass in the beginning so that we knew we weren’t making one rack of ribs.

00;24;50;05 – 00;25;09;29
Unknown
You know, we were making a couple hundred. So, you know, the minimum order for starters is four half slabs, and we had a couple hundred customers preorders. So in the beginning I was like, awesome. Like, we need to now go make 800 racks of rib. This is like a sizable, you know, order. This is going to take a lot of time, you know, no longer used just the smoker in my backyard.

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00;25;09;29 – 00;25;29;17
Unknown
We actually have to, you know, cook at scale and employ people that are going to be doing things like that. So essentially created critical mass in demand and what we do is we’ll forecast how much we need for, you know, a couple of weeks and then we’ll make, you know, thousands of ribs in Chicago and put them on a cold truck going up to Wisconsin and give it to our distribution partner.

00;25;29;20 – 00;25;46;08
Unknown
So he then does the ultimate pick and pack. So it’s a cold storage facility, It’s a giant refrigerator. And he says he looks at the orders that come in and go, okay, but you have racks today. But you know, five to can, six to Joe. And he goes through that and so we’re making and and batches and then the goal is to go through that batch as quickly as possible.

00;25;46;08 – 00;26;00;06
Unknown
But there is a there’s a forecasting game here because ultimately, you know, it is a perishable good. So you want to go through it as quickly as possible, but you also can’t have the production facility making orders that are like less than 100. You know, they need to be making as many ribs as possible. That answers your questions.

00;26;00;06 – 00;26;19;04
Unknown
Yes. So how do you see the food and beverage industry changing over the next 20 years? A lot of different ways. So one of the interesting things about food and beverage is there is a lifestyle slash like fashion almost component to it. You know, a hundred years ago, we fed lobsters to prisoners. Now it’s the most expensive item on the menu.

00;26;19;04 – 00;26;42;21
Unknown
You know, there are diets in trends. You know, people, you know, right now, you know, Paleo and Ito and, you know, certain diets become popular in fad or, you know, vegetarian and vegan, whatever it is. And so there’s an underlying element that you can you can ride the waves. So, I mean, given we sell meat, you know, I try to dive into the paleo and Kito communities being like, load up on the meat boy, we got, we got a lot of meat.

00;26;42;21 – 00;27;01;14
Unknown
And you know, you avoid certain communities that don’t appreciate that as much. You have to remember there’s also, you know, religious beliefs or lifestyles that, you know, don’t eat pork or don’t eat beef or don’t eat chicken. And so there’s underlying, you know, global population trends of like the groups that, you know, don’t eat pork are growing or the groups that don’t are like X, Y, Z are growing.

00;27;01;14 – 00;27;33;14
Unknown
And so it’s really interesting because there’s an element of lifestyle, religion, dietary restrictions. There’s a couple different variables that are kind of like macro trends and what people want to eat. And then I think generally speaking, people have also just become a lot more health conscious over the past 15 years and people are trying to avoid things that are highly processed, which I think plays well to us because at the end of the day, what that really means is eat more meat, fruit and vegetables, you know, avoid the Oreos, avoid the Cheez-Its, avoid the the things in the middle of the grocery store, you know, try to stay on the outside of the grocery store.

00;27;33;14 – 00;27;52;22
Unknown
So we try to hype up those trends because we think we play into a lot of that. But, you know, from from a long term perspective, that’s part of the reason. It’s also really important that we have more than one product, because you got to take what I call the no vote off the table. So if you’re a family and your daughter’s a vegetarian and you know, the son’s doing the keto diet and the wife’s doing this, you know, I need to have an item that everyone can eat.

00;27;52;22 – 00;28;05;28
Unknown
It’s hard if you say, Hey, let’s get a smokehouse for dinner and somebody raises their hand, Well, I don’t need anything on their menu next day. You know, we’re already dead in the water. So it’s important as we think of building out our menu, we start with a pork product. Now, we added a beef product. Next, we’re going to add a chicken product.

00;28;05;28 – 00;28;20;22
Unknown
After that, we’re probably going to add some sides that are, you know, vegetable oriented. And then we’ll think about like flavor iterations. So it will go back to the ribs. And so maybe there should be a spicy version. Maybe there should be a white Alabama sauce, maybe there should be a Thai chili sauce and do some cool fusion stuff.

00;28;20;22 – 00;28;39;13
Unknown
But I think in the beginning in food, it’s important that you have something that everyone can eat. And you also recognize the underlying trends of what people want to eat in general, which is which is healthier and less processed. And I like that how you’re kind of focusing on getting those those main products in the catalog and then slowly building it out based on that.

00;28;39;13 – 00;29;01;10
Unknown
And so so I want to talk about your your job prior to being a professional pitmaster. And so I personally find family office in that space fascinating. So can you share with the audience what is Family Office Wealth Management? And then kind of maybe some tips on the top two or three strategies that you use while you were in that space?

00;29;01;10 – 00;29;21;28
Unknown
Yes, I was really I was really fortunate to land in the family office world. That’s a it’s a pretty niche, but emerging kind of category within financial services. But essentially what a family offices as ultra successful essentially hires a handful of people full time to manage their assets rather than being a customer of a traditional wealth management firm or a big bank.

00;29;21;28 – 00;29;39;01
Unknown
There’s actually doing everything in-house themselves. Part of the reason that is, is because they don’t want to invest in products. They really want to do what they want to do. And so after three different families, the first family I worked for was the Myers admire was the CEO of Gray Advertising for 36 years, which was the fourth largest ad agency in the world.

00;29;39;01 – 00;29;54;28
Unknown
He sold that for a couple of billion dollars to WPP in 2004 and essentially hired ten people saying, You guys focus on real estate, you guys focus on, you know, the stocks and you guys focus on buying private businesses. And so that was where I focused. I was I was predominantly focused on on buying businesses that we wanted to own.

00;29;54;28 – 00;30;24;25
Unknown
And I ultimately did that for two other families as well. That gave me a really great lens. For one, what do all these businesses look like and which ones are working and which ones aren’t? Because I would review, you know, many different businesses every single day, and we’d only invest in maybe one or two a year. So it was, Hey, you know what, what are the attributes or profile profiles of these businesses that are attractive that we think have, you know, a long runway for growth, have, you know, consistent cash flow regardless of economic conditions, you know, what industries are they and things like that.

00;30;24;25 – 00;30;44;26
Unknown
So it also helped to also learn from these people that, you know, arguably are some of the most successful people in America. They were all entrepreneurs themselves, so they all ran businesses themselves. And so it’s interesting to see the values they cared about and how they manage people and how they and I think it gave me a great framework for how I wanted to design and ultimately build and manage my business.

00;30;44;26 – 00;30;57;14
Unknown
And I say that’s why I was the first, you know, the planning stage. So it wasn’t easy, but I kind of knew what I was doing, so I knew what I wanted to look for and what I wanted to ultimately build. When I got under the hood. That’s now. I think whenever you’re building a business, it never goes exactly.

00;30;57;17 – 00;31;12;16
Unknown
It never goes anything. It’s going to go. And I’ve said it before, I was shocked how much of this was digital marketing because you think like, like you’re making ribs and you make a website and you know, customers, fine, you. Yeah, you just got to focus on like making ribs and putting them in a cooler with ice.

00;31;12;16 – 00;31;28;17
Unknown
No doubt you have and learned digital marketing. I’m going to give that. I give one lesson to anyone. You have to learn digital marketing if you don’t do anything in e-commerce. Now, that’s cool. I find that that based fascinating. And so it’s kind of thanks for sharing the behind the curtain what goes on there. So that’s really cool.

00;31;28;18 – 00;31;49;17
Unknown
David, any any follow up questions before we get into the fire around? Talked a lot about Urban Smokehouse but I just. Is there anything else you want to cover here? I think it’s a super cool company. You know, if I eating meat that has been procured over fire and smoke has been in style for 75,000 years. And so you’re really tapping into something that I think is is really cool.

00;31;49;17 – 00;32;06;22
Unknown
And when people think physical products, they often don’t think of food and beverage. And so actually the first guest that we’ve had on parks, I believe that’s been in this space. And so for listeners that are interested in becoming potential customers, is there anything else that they should know about The company we started with ribs. Ribs are a flagship product that taste amazing.

00;32;06;22 – 00;32;25;15
Unknown
If you like ribs, definitely give them a try. We added brisket this past September. I’m really proud of the brisket as well. Our next product should be Hand-pulled Chicken. It’s going to be launching from probably January 1st or prior to a campaign around the years the product’s been made. I was going back and forth with final label designs and things of that nature, so it’ll be coming off here soon.

00;32;25;15 – 00;32;41;13
Unknown
But do you guys like barbecue? I want to save some time. It was a give us a tried and you’re going to like it. Sounds great. All right, let’s get into the fire. I’ve got some brisket in my shopping cart. I had to stop shopping to tape the podcast, but I’m gonna go back and get that. And so the website at Urban Smokehouse Dot SEO.

00;32;41;20 – 00;32;58;12
Unknown
Yeah. Echo, dot, dot com or dot SEO. And that’s also our handle on all social media. If you want to follow the story and you know, Instagram, Tik Tok, Facebook, you name it, the URL for the website is is our name on all social media as well. We try to keep it simple. Yeah. And if you’re on the fence about it, I saw there are some Christmas deals on there.

00;32;58;12 – 00;33;16;21
Unknown
So go, go snap some up. So awesome. Andrew, are you ready for the fire round? Let’s do it. It is a series of rapid fire questions. What is your favorite book? 48 Laws of Power by Robert Green. Excellent. What are your hobbies? I was a swimmer in college. I like all water sports. I like swimming, diving, you know, put me at a by a swimming pool or a beach.

00;33;16;21 – 00;33;36;06
Unknown
I’m happy. Awesome. What is one thing that you do not miss about working for the man? Having someone over my shoulder? Torso. Agreed. All right, last one. What do you think sets apart successful e-commerce entrepreneurs from those who give up, fail or never get started? I think would define success. And really, any space is discipline and consistency. You don’t have to be the best.

00;33;36;06 – 00;33;52;01
Unknown
You have to be the most talented. You don’t have to have connections or money. If you just stick with it and you stay consistent, you’ll make progress in anything in life, whether it’s this business, your health or whatever you’re trying to pursue, just be consistent and it’ll work. Staying power to stay in the game. You’ll get better each day.

00;33;52;01 – 00;34;10;22
Unknown
Excellent advice, really. Andrew. If people are interested in getting in touch with you or learning more about Urban Smokehouse SKO, what would be the best way message us on any of the social media platforms? I also check the support emails. I support urban spark outcomes. Yeah, if you want to email me, but I’m very accessible and my contact information is out there.

00;34;10;22 – 00;34;24;04
Unknown
So add me on LinkedIn, Instagram, whatever you like and I’ll get back to you. Awesome. And we’ll post links to all of that in the show notes. Andrew, I want to thank you for being a guest on the firing line and podcasting. We’re looking forward to staying in touch. Yeah, Thank you so much for having me, guys. This was really fun.

00;34;24;06 – 00;34;25;01
Unknown
Yep. Pushed it.

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