I love what I do. It’s not just because it’s fun. I think it’s because I feel like I’m actually making a difference in people’s lives.
I know I’m a pretty lucky guy to be able to say that. The experiences I’ve had and the people I’ve met all along the way have been pretty incredible. They’ve each contributed to who I am and what I’m a part of today.
I’ve seen entrepreneurship firsthand since I was a kid. I've watched my dad make stuff his entire life. He can make or fix anything with his hands. I think he is a genius. In fact, he started his own business, Stoughton Steel, making stuff. He didn’t have the digital world to help “get his message” out. He did it through sheer determination and love. Now he sells to some of the largest corporations in the world.
When my dad started out 35 years ago, there wasn’t a way to tell people about his ideas. He simply had to make it happen.
Now, Kickstarter helps people make that happen everyday.
Kickstarter has a special place in my heart because that’s how we were able to launch the Baking Steel and make it an instant success. It’s a platform filled with extraordinary ideas. Some of those ideas will blow your mind (not literally, but pretty close). I like to scour the pages, watch the videos, and listen to the founders or creators of the products. I can feel their passion. They talk about solving a specific challenge, making something better, inspiring with their art. They all aim simply to make life better.
But here’s the genius of Kickstarter. Instead of creators just getting to rave about their passion, they allow us, as micro-investors, to get a piece of the action. If you invest in a project, you get to help them get a worthwhile product to market. You also get something of tangible value from your investment before it reaches the masses. Sounds fair to me. The killer projects gather a lot of attention. Why does it work for them? Because we relate to their idea.
I have seen some great ideas and some not so great ones. (By the way, if you’re thinking of putting your product on Kickstarter, giving a tee shirt and stickers for a $40 investment isn’t the way to make it happen.) But that’s what is so cool. Mediocre ideas or good ideas with lame incentives fade away. But great ideas with great incentives win the day every time. In a sense, Kickstarter gives you a chance to “thank” your investors at the moment they invest. It’s a pretty special thing to see your product come to life and move from inspiration to realization.
In my case, my inspiration was something I read in Modernist Cuisine. (Let me pause to thank the guys at Modernist Cuisine who have beautifully combined their love of science with their love of cooking. That, in itself, is inspirational.) It was a matter-of-fact statement about the secret to making the best possible pizza crust at home that caught my eye. And it involved something I knew intimately: steel.
I had access to steel, but how in the world was I supposed to do anything more with my idea? I knew right away that it was a fantastic idea, but I wondered, “How is anyone going to believe that a maker of construction equipment parts is going to launch a cooking product. Not a chance in hell.” Enter Kickstarter. It was a platform for our voice. It gave us a fighting chance.
Actually, it was quite a bit more than a fighting chance. It gave us a launchpad, and boy has it been a wild ride so far!
So, thank you Kickstarter, for an opportunity to share a product I feel immensely passionate about.
But as in all Kickstarter stories, it doesn’t end with the product or the creator. It’s about the backers and those who really get behind the idea. Baking Steel had that early champion. Kenji Alt-Lopez, the Chief Creative Officer for Serious Eats, tested our product and shared his honest opinion with his readers. His impact helped spur on a great swell of interest in our product, and for that, I’m truly grateful.
Behind the scenes, my brother Eric has been instrumental in the manufacturing of our product, without him we wouldn’t be shipping any Baking Steels. I think we make a great team.
From the beginning, we wanted to do more than create a product. We wanted to create something bigger than ourselves. In that light, we have been committed to doing good in our own community. We’ve found the opportunity to be a part of the immense cause of The Greater Boston Food Bank. I’m thankful for that chance.
I’m grateful to all of you who have helped along the way. You, who have bought a Baking Steel, and tweeted about it, and posted photos on Facebook, and made comments on our site, and wrote your honest opinion.
Finally, I am grateful for the little voice inside my head that said, “do it”!
Now I get to make and do stuff I am passionate about every day. I hope everyone has an opportunity to do that in their lifetime. It is what I will teach my two boys. It's pretty amazing.
I guess that's why I love the Baking Steel. It gives us a way to create what we love with whom we love. Not just food, but the joy of creating an experience together. It's a chance for us to connect and share something special, something that I love. Go and create some love!
Thank you, Andris