By Guest Author Erika Valdez
Today’s food entrepreneur story showcases Bruce Frankel, a former restaurant owner and chef, who now owns SpitJack, an online retailer that specializes in selling cooking tools for men. SpitJack sells a variety of products that range from indoor grills to fireplace rotisserie sets with a unique twist—preparing your dinner in the fireplace while enjoying the warmth of the fire.
Before the creation of SpitJack in 2004, Bruce worked as a chef who eventually opened up his own food business ventures that ranged from a nouvelle cuisine bistro to a New England-themed restaurant. In 1992, Bruce decided to leave the restaurant business and venture into restaurant consulting. A few years later, he realized the potential of the Internet and decided to transform his company to an online business—VirtualRestaurant.com, an online resource for restaurant startups, management, and training. The rapid growth of Internet technology fascinated Bruce so much that he soon found himself building Web sites full time. It was at this point when he decided to establish an online business that would also incorporate his love for food.
I asked Bruce, so what is the big idea and story behind SpitJack?
“SpitJack is an online store targeted at men who enjoy cooking. I developed a rotisserie cooking system that takes advantage of the fireplace,” he said. In order to take this idea to the market, Bruce partnered with an overseas manufacturer that currently assists him with the continuing development of this unique tool. Bruce tells me that this idea came about from his love for food and his entrepreneurial spirit. “I wanted to combine my passion for creating new ideas while maintaining my roots of a creative cook,” he added.
SpitJack was funded through personal funds and with help of friends and family. The company has seen steady growth since its creation and it is only expected to grow. Revenues are over 1.25 million dollars. Even though a showroom in Massachusetts is in operation, a big portion of the business is acquired through referrals and the Internet. Search engine marketing has proven to be a strong marketing tool to help spread the word and acquire new customers. Frankel says that “sixty percent of new customers come from search engines such as Google, 20% from a specialty Web that was created in order to maximize search results, and 20% from other channels.”
I then asked Bruce, having been involved in Web design for about ten years, are you experimenting with different media tools in order to create greater market exposure than what you already have?
He intends to branch out into new media: “I have not put as much emphasis on using the social media tools available as would like. I recently started stepping into it, however, I do plan to expand the usage and eventually publish articles, e-books, create blogs, and so forth. Currently, the main focus is on the development and quality of my products. I’m trying to develop products that will appeal to the market. I do not want to lose the emphasis on the quality of the products. I am also in search for new product opportunities.”
Finally, I asked Bruce his opinion on being an entrepreneur?
“Being an entrepreneur is a very risky endeavor, and I wouldn’t suggest it to anyone who isn’t fully committed and prepared to take on the risk—financially, emotionally, or for the sake of family,” he said.
Bruce also said that it is important to stay motivated and to understand that even though ideas fail, one cannot be discouraged. “That is what being an entrepreneur is all about—an entrepreneur must understand that he or she is here to manifest ideas. “
SpitJack is offering ideas for how to make your holiday season enjoyable by cooking Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner over the fireplace using the SpitJack Electric Fireplace Rotisserie. One can also find many of SpitJack’s favorite Thanksgiving recipes such as roast turkey breast with garlic and herbs and common cracker stuffing on the company’s website.
This segment is a part in the series : Food Entrepreneurs