Made in KC Series: Meet the Founders of Tappecue
Updated: Jul 7, 2020
Today's episode features the story of Tappecue WiFi BBQ Thermometer and how it was founded.
Tappecue was launched by Innovating Solutions LLC in June 2013... prior to Tappecue's launch, Innovating Solutions LLC (founded in 2010) was a software consultant company working with a large range of clients to provide mobile app and software solutions to help create efficiency in the lives of others. During the first few years, Aniruddha, Gina and Jacob went through UMKC's E-Scholars Program and, through the program's mentor network, they met a world champion BBQer, Chris Marks. Marks invented the Good-One Smoker and is the Chief BBQ Expert at Landmark Manufacturing. Marks had a presented an idea to us and we accepted. We began work right away on the first phase, prototyping. In the picture below you can see our very first prototype (the little white box).
Kansas City is a hot spot for BBQ, but it can also be so much more than that. Through this series we'll guide you on a Kansas City tour of what it takes to build out a technology product from prototyping all the way to full-fledged production. 95% of our vendors are here in the Greater Kansas City. We'll also show you the lives impacted for the better and how Tappecue supports not only the local economy but a global economy... being only one of the few companies that exports. According to Kenneth Mayer, Global e-Commerce Strategy at UPS, "only 3% of US small to medium size businesses are exporting”. 6 years down the road and in 29 countries, it all started here in Kansas City with a concept presented and a MVP (minimum viable product). Watch the short video below to see how it all began.
The Black Box in the video above was our very first production ran Tappecue - Tappecue V1. Built and designed by a local engineer, Craig from Built-To-Spec and HammerSpace - a community workshop in Kansas City, the Tappecue V1 was our MVP. We were first to market with a Wifi Meat Thermometer that is Cloud Based and coined the search term. It isn't all easy being the first to market and having such a raw product was just as difficult. There were things we were missing (i.e. a Mac installation program) and things that made it difficult to set up and use. Selling people on a new concept and new way of life isn't easy either. Even producing the unit itself was hard. Each unit was hand assembled in 15 minutes. We spent about an hour to two each day shipping out product and nearly a full day assembling. Our max capacity was reached after our first year of production. Something needed to change to keep up with demand. Gina, President started working with a Mechanical Engineer, Gary Hannah owner of Custom Design Engineering LLC, to increase our efficiency in production to streamline the process. He connected us with our Plastics Manufacture, LeVic Plastics, to create a plastic enclosure that would take less than 2 minutes to assemble and was weatherproof for outdoors use without an external box. All-the-while Gina and Aniruddha, both software engineers and founders of Tappecue, tag teamed the software development and dramatically improved the app and the installation program. And thus, Tappecue V2 was created. We achieved great things with the V2 - ranking #1 Wireless Grill Thermometer by Ezvid Wiki and 3rd in Best BBQ Tool/Accessory by the National BBQ Association in 2018 Awards of Excellence.
Yet still we had complaints about how hard it was to set up... others thought they could do it better. Some larger companies tried and failed while a few smaller companies succeeded. It's mainly because of the difficulties in software development (outsourcing and communication barriers) and the large expenses it takes to maintain relevance with the fast pace growth we see in the technology industry. It takes a small, agile team to keep up. Which a year later, we did, with the new Version 3.
The version 3 is called Tappecue Touch. It's the "most accurate digital thermometer unit we have ever tested" according to Kell Phelps of the National BBQ News. Not only is it accurate, but it has also been dramatically improved for the easiest set up possible. Thanks to the engineers at CarGt Consulting, we've been able to improve the quality of our product and the functionality. Jacob Bourret, Founder and Vice President, says, "the Tappecue Touch is the best tech on the market by a landslide - it's capabilities alone outrank that of any other competitor... along with the lesser price tag. Tappecue Touch is the best bang for your buck with 8 probe capabilities, dual sensor probes, control tech for your blowers and it's all so easy to set up and use."
The Tappecue has come a long ways over the last 7 years and continues to improve and adapt to consumers' needs. In 2020 we'll see some major improvements with the Tappecue Touch features and add-ons.
Stay tuned for the insider scoop of how the Tappecue Touch is made from a few of our local Kansas City Vendors: our contract manufacture for the circuit boards, eCircuits, our plastics manufacturer, LeVic Plastics, and our team of engineers at CarGt Consulting. In next month's issue, Meet the Engineers, we'll talk about prototyping and engineering new products.