Andrew Buehler joins us on the Steve Jobs inspired Join Up Dots Podcast.
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Introducing Andrew Buehler
Welcome to another mouth-watering episode of Join Up Dots
Today, we’re diving into the incredible story of a man who made a daring leap from the confines of “Corporate America” to the sizzling world of culinary delight.
Meet our founder, Andrew Buehler, a true trailblazer in the realm of food.
After a decade of donning the corporate suit, Andrew had an epiphany, uttering those three powerful words that many of us secretly yearn for: “This sucks.”
With courage as his compass, he ditched the suit and donned an apron, setting out on a culinary adventure that would change his life forever.
But the flame of Andrew’s culinary journey was ignited long before that pivotal moment.
In high school, he presided over the Grilling Society, a hint of the gastronomic passion that would consume him.
In college, he founded “The Fat Cats,” the second collegiate competitive eating club in the nation, proving that his appetite for adventure knows no bounds.
Not stopping there, he hosted epic annual pig roasts that became legendary among his peers.
Food wasn’t just a hobby for Andrew; it was in his DNA.
How The Dots Joined Up For Andrew
His mother’s love for cooking was a source of inspiration, while his father’s profession as a supplier and contract manufacturer for grocery stores and restaurants instilled a deep appreciation for the culinary industry.
Andrew is the guy you want at the table, the one who effortlessly orders for the group, the weekly chef for friends and family, and the ultimate foodie traveller who always knows where and what to eat in advance.
Today, Andrew is living the dream, turning his lifelong love affair with food into not just a passion but also a profession.
As he embarks on the Urban Smokehouse journey, he’s here to tantalize your taste buds with the best ribs and an ever-expanding menu of delectable dishes.
So how do you turn something that every American and Australian seem to be experts in already to a flourishing business?
And was it plain sailing or did the business take awhile to really start cooking up some profits?
Well lets find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Andrew Buehler.
During the show we discussed such weighty subjects with Andrew such as:
Andrew shares the two pivotal moments when life started making him question the path that he was on.
Why business success should always be based on the key elements of customer needs (which laziness is often one the main parts.)
We discuss the key moment when the concept of his business was born (but how do you get going?)
Andrew shares the moments when outgoing costs were matched with in coming income and how he knew he was on his way.
Or if you prefer just pop over to our podcast archive for thousands of amazing episodes to choose from.
Full Transcription Of Andrew Buehler Interview
Life shouldn’t be hard life should be a fun filled adventure every day. So now start joining up dots tap into your talents, your skills, your God given gifts and tell your boss, you don’t deserve me. I’m out of here. It’s time for you to smash that alarm clock and start getting the dream business and wife you will, of course, are dreaming of. Let’s join your host, David Ralph from the back of his garden in the UK, or wherever he might be today with another JAM PACKED episode of the number one hit podcast. Join Up Dots.
David Ralph [0:39]
Yeah, good morning to you. Good morning to you and welcome to another mouthwatering episode of Join Up Dots. Today, we’re diving into the incredible story of a man who made a daring leap from the confines of corporate America to the sizzling world of culinary delight. He is a true trailblazer in the realm of food. Now, after a decade of donning the corporate suit, our guest had an epiphany, uttering those very powerful words that many of us secretly yearn for. This sucks badly. With coverage as his campus he ditched a suit and donned an apron setting out on an adventure that would change his life forever. But the flame of his journey was ignited long before that pivotal moment in high school. He presided over the grilling society, a hint of the gastronomical passion that would consume him. And in college, he founded the fat cats. The second collegiate gait, competitive eating club in the nation, providing that his appetite for adventure knows no bounds. Now not stopping there. He hosted epic annual pig Rossa become legendary. Food wasn’t just a hobby, and now it was in his DNA is mother’s love, the cooking was a source of inspiration. And while his father’s profession as a supplier and contract manufacturer for grocery stores, instilled a deep appreciation of the industry, he was still on his way to finding his place at the table. Now he is the guy you want at the table, the one who effortlessly orders for the group, the weekly chef for friends and family and the ultimate foodie, who always knows where and what to eat in advance. Today, he’s living the dream, turning his lifelong love affair with food into not just a passion, but also a profession. So how do you turn something that every American and Australian seem to be experts in already to a flourishing business? And was it plain sailing? Or did the business take a while to really start cooking up some profits? Well, let’s find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Mr. Andrew Bueller. Good morning, Andrew. How are you?
Andrew Bueller Urban Smokehouse [2:48]
Good morning, David. I’m great. I’m great. And thank you for the lovely introduction.
David Ralph [2:52]
I’ll tell you why. I have interviewed 1000s and 1000s of people. And a lot of time when I’m doing the introduction, I think to myself, I can’t quite see how the dots joined up here until I had the conversation with them. With you. It seems to be out there. It seems to be this was a natural fit. Does it feel that way to you?
Andrew Bueller Urban Smokehouse [3:13]
It does it does. You know, and I think it was a question. A lot of people have this question, you know, should they do something that they’re passionate about? Or should they do something that, you know, might earn a solid wage or accomplish kind of their economic or financial goals? And I think I deterred the passion for pursuing something that had more financial incentive for a while, and then kind of realised, hey, you know, let’s, let’s chase our dreams, we can we can make good money doing that as well, too. And I think that’s, that’s something that a lot of people delay or put off for financial gain versus doing something that they’re passionate about already might have a tonne of experience in or a tonne of skeleton but didn’t pursue because they felt something else would be more profitable or economical.
David Ralph [3:57]
I kind of I’ve lurched between this passion and finance. And I kind of think now, you should go for anything that makes the money and be passionate about creating the life that you want, using the income wherever it is, as the springboard for living your sort of dream life. I think people get hung up on the passion based businesses because ultimately, no matter how much you love doing something, it becomes a business. It becomes a bit boring at times, doesn’t it? And you still have to suck it up and grind it out. What do you think?
Andrew Bueller Urban Smokehouse [4:32]
That’s true. I mean, there’s always a balancing act. I don’t think you can go 100% are all in in one, one or the other direction. But I also think it’s important that you don’t dislike or despise how you spend those eight hours a day or 10 hours a day that you’re working because realistically, you’re going to spend a good chunk of your life working. And it’s important that you have a minimum level of enjoyment and that experience as well as you’re building towards creating that ultimate lifestyle that you that you want to pursue have
David Ralph [5:00]
said when you was in corporate America been out how much of it would be grind, how much of it was, oh my God, I’ve got no passion for this, I’m just doing it as a job.
Andrew Bueller Urban Smokehouse [5:13]
You know, it’s tough to, it’s tough to put a number on it. So specifically, I was in financial services I worked in, in private equity, I was an investor, I was meeting small and medium sized business owners and contemplating investing in those businesses or potentially even ultimately buying them. And I think it was actually maybe seeing the light and say, Hey, this is a cool job, and I enjoy it. But you know, the real the real dreams to be on the other side, the real dream is to not study these guys are alert, learn from these guys or support these guys, but to ultimately be that business owner, that business operator. And that’s kind of another layer of inspiration that’s here, other than just liking food and liking the underlying product I make, it was sitting in a seat where I was sitting across the table from, you know, 1000s of business owners and operators and realising that those are the people that have more freedom in creating the lifestyle they want. And ultimately, if they’re successful, there’s more economic upside there as well. You know, owning equity or actually owning a piece of the business is where real gains are made. It’s not it’s not in a salary. It’s an it’s, it’s in building equity value, over a period of a long time that compounds that ultimately, then experiences a liquidity event somehow.
David Ralph [6:31]
So do you remember the time distinctly, when you sat there and thought, I can’t do this anymore? I need I need to get out.
Andrew Bueller Urban Smokehouse [6:39]
Yeah, so there’s a buildup, then there’s actually one really distinct moment, I’m gonna I’m gonna talk about both if that’s okay. But think COVID was kind of that natural self reflection period for a lot of people because we, we all spent a lot more time at home. And we all spent a bit less time socialising or engaging our friends or coworkers or their people in person. And so, you know, I was sitting in my apartment in New York, just thinking about, hey, you know, I’ve, I’ve worked for 10 years, you know, I have a bit of experience, is this something that I really liked? Do I want to do this for the next 20 or 30 years? I have an education, I have experience, you know, I have a little bit of savings now is this is this is this the time to pivot? Because it only gets harder to pivot as you as you get older, because you become more skilled or more invested or further down the rabbit hole, they give an industry or skill set or, or field. And I kind of said, hey, now I’ve never I’ve always I’ve always wanted to do something entrepreneurial. It’s only gonna get harder if we take this leap of faith later. But let’s do something. And we started thinking about it, or I started thinking about it for, you know, a couple of months over COVID. But, oddly enough, the day that the real the real jump occurred was New Year’s Day, I woke up beers day in 2022, and said, Hey, man, it’s now or never, like, what are we doing this year, and I sat at my computer and just started typing up a business plan. And I probably wrote, I don’t know, 10 or 15 pages that day, just banging it out at the computer, called a New Year’s resolution, call it a eureka moment. But there was something that day where I woke up and 2022 I said, Hey, we’ve been thinking about this for a while. But let’s put some pen to paper let’s let’s start making an actionable plan and pursuing this. And and that’s the day that I I call it that I took the leap of faith.
David Ralph [8:33]
So that moment in Columbia, when you started thinking, I should be entrepreneurial. Obviously, at that stage, many of us build up to it. But many of us haven’t got a clue what we should be doing. We can’t see it. So how did you go from corporate land? Thinking that you should do something to creating your own barbecue business aid? That’s a jump in it.
Andrew Bueller Urban Smokehouse [8:59]
It’s a bit of a jump. Yeah. And so I kind of saw really two paths. At that point. I said, Hey, do I do I continue to work in financial services? And as the end goal, you know, running an investment management firm of my own or something of that nature? Or do I pursue it? Or do I pursue an industry and what industries excite me and where do I see opportunity? And I think if you if you’ve known me, well, you’ve highlighted a couple of the details in the intro, but foods definitely always been a strong passion of mine. Whether it’s making it consuming it, studying it, you know, watching it, listen, hearing about it, reading about it, you know, I’ve always loved food. And I think the other layer of the onion that we kind of haven’t really talked about as much here that’s that goes beyond food is really ecommerce. And, you know, during COVID Especially if you lived in a city you noticed every single day in the lobby of your building more and more packages piling up, more and more boxes, more and more boxes. It used to be a room for it. And next thing you know, there’s spilling out into the lobby because people are ordering so many things online. And in addition to that, during COVID, the first few weeks or months, you know, some people were more hesitant to go to the stores, or the grocery store stayed open, more people started considering online grocery delivery, more people adopt it online grocery delivery. And online grocery delivery has been around for a while. But I think most people have always been comfortable buying packaged goods online buying a case of Gatorade, buying some Lay’s potato chips or something that you know, is shelf stable, and it’s prepackaged. But ultimately, a lot of people like to go to the grocery store to handpick their produce and their proteins, they want to, you know, look at the 10 apples and choose the one that looks the best. They want to look at the 10 steaks, or chicken breasts or whatever it is and select them. And COVID kind of made that that nudge for a lot of people to consider buying all their groceries online. So you started seeing, frankly, the amount of people that bought produce and meat online skyrocket. And I view that as kind of a previous barrier to selling those things online. And there’s been kind of a forced acceleration in that adoption curve. And so
David Ralph [11:17]
I’ll just jump in there, what you’re doing is you’re tapping into the basic, lazy need of people, we’re getting so trained to click a button, it just turns up, we, but you realise that it’s never gonna go away, right? It’s just going to escalate.
Andrew Bueller Urban Smokehouse [11:35]
It’s never gonna go away. And I think that, you know, certain products and services have a faster adoption curve, and COVID helped accelerate the adoption curve. For me, I think meat was probably something that less people would buy online 10 years ago, and you know, now significantly more people are comfortable doing it.
David Ralph [11:54]
I’m not sure if I would actually do it, Andrew bow. Because this is the fascinating part of your product, I look at it. And I think to myself, I’d love to eat this. And if you’ve been in the United Kingdom, we are crap at BBQ, we really are. It’s like a half cooked bit of chicken sausage that you could knock a fence panel out with, you know that it’s just terrible barbecues. But to just come across to a website and order it and turn up and then dish it out to my family. How did you break that down? How did you start getting the ball rolling? How did you get your first customers that was saying, Yeah, actually, I might never have heard from you. But this packet that I’m going to get through the door, I’m opening it up, and I’m going to consume that.
Andrew Bueller Urban Smokehouse [12:41]
A couple different things. So one, you know, we had to explain the value properly well, and the value prop does lean on laziness a bit, and also leans on accessibility. So a lot of these barbecue items, you know, they’re described as being made low and slow, which means at a low temperature for a very long time. So smoking a rack of ribs for you know, three to five hours, beef brisket for eight to 12 hours, those are, that’s pretty time intensive, like, most people I know, don’t wake up on Saturday and say I want to commit an entire day to this. Some people do and it’s almost a culture, there’s a cult following for it. But there’s a much larger portion of the population that loves eating these types of foods, and will buy them at you know, barbecue restaurants, or they’ll have a friend that enjoys doing this. And he makes all the food for the town or for the community or the you know, the friend group, whatever you want to call it. And so it’s really leaning into that message saying hey, like, we’ll do we’ll do this the right way. But we’ll we’ll make that convenience, significantly higher. So given that it’s pre cooked, and it’s vacuum sealed, you know, you can reheat it or finish it in your oven on your grill in your air fryer, really any device and a much more convenient timeframe. 15 To 20 minutes. So that makes something that most people would arguably never cook or cook maybe once or twice a year, say, hey, now I can eat this, you know, every Saturday if I want because it’s it’s a lot, it’s less of a burden. I think with food, you know, the challenge is getting people to try it. The challenge and even if you’re selling in a grocery store, people usually go into the store knowing what they want. They’re not usually not intrigued. It’s hard to trick someone with just clever packaging or sales price to try a new product. And so you really got to do a lot of free samples. And so we did a tonne of pop ups in New York City where I’d approach sports bars that didn’t have kitchens. And that was part of the play because they basically didn’t have an appetising food offering they might have potato chips or, or some dried good but they would let me set a grill up outside and you could smell you know, ribs cooking or great barbecue cooking and people are hungry and you’re really the only option on the menu. So either you’re going to stay at the bar and eat what I’m serving or you’re going to leave the bar go down the street, not enough pick up a piece of pizza or something and so feeding the people and being in person, being able to seduce people with the aroma of smell, and sight and things like that, I think reduces the barrier to get someone to try it. And then you’re able to say, hey, just so you know, like I saw these online, you should consider getting them delivered to your house, etc, etc. and
David Ralph [15:19]
slow down on that, because that’s a real big piece of the puzzle of creating a sustainable, growing business. But you basically cut out the middleman, you cut out the laziness that people have, where they feel like they can put a Facebook post on, or they can do an Instagram image. And that’s going to create that that buzz, you actually worked out where your market was, basically people having a drink, bouncing something to eat, not being able to get it and went straight to market. Now, was that something that was obvious to you? Or was that something that you looked around and thought, well, if I was going to do this business, if I was going to do any business, I would find out my poor customers and where they are.
Andrew Bueller Urban Smokehouse [16:07]
It was pretty obvious to me for food. Because when I think of, you know, Costco, here in the US or other large like grocery chains, I mean, there are some people that go to Costco just to enjoy the free samples, there are some people that go to Costco to just walk around and try the 10.
David Ralph [16:24]
They just turn up and just grind. They just walk around like water based grazing, yeah,
Andrew Bueller Urban Smokehouse [16:29]
they’re grazing and maybe they pick up I don’t know a case of water, they pick up some something on their way out. But there’s there are people that really enjoy that experience of like free food or sampling things. And I think with food, it’s really about getting, honestly any business, it’s about getting your customers to become your biggest advocate. So the hardest sale or the hardest dollar to get the first dollar, but once you get David to try the product, and he likes it, and you can incentivize them to talk about it and say, Hey, I just had these amazing ribs, you should try them too. That reduces the barrier for anyone else to try the product. And so it’s the compounding effect of getting your customers who liked the product to talk about the product and become advocates for it. And so it starts in person, you get people to try it, you get them to talk about it, you then incentivize them, you get them, you give them discounts to you know, post about it on Facebook, or Instagram or social media, if they refer a friend, you offer different rewards for that. And, and it has a snowball effect, because they like the product. So they’ll buy it again. And they can convince someone much easier than you to try the product because they have a relationship with that person. And they trust them more than they trust the random Facebook posts or Instagram posts from the company.
David Ralph [17:43]
I agree with this totally Andrew, but it also blows me away how few people do this, how few people get on the streets, and actually target people. It’s almost like they want to create a business. But then they’re scared to get out there and get dirty. And I do wonder whether social media and online presence is a benefit or a drawback, because businesses have been flourishing for hundreds of 1000s Eat well, not hundreds of 1000s years, but years and years and years without any of that. But now people seem to go that way before they get to real life.
Andrew Bueller Urban Smokehouse [18:24]
I think it depends on the product you’re selling though. Like, I’ll be honest, I don’t need a recommendation from anyone to buy like a new iPhone case or cell phone case. Like if it looks nice. I could be tricked by a Facebook ad very easily. It just, it looks appealing. And it’s
David Ralph [18:40]
valid. Have you met my wife? That the crap that she orders that I say to her, of course, it’s gonna look good, it’s on a Facebook post. And then it turns out and he doesn’t work and stuff, we’ve got piles of this rubbish.
Andrew Bueller Urban Smokehouse [18:55]
But when it’s 20 or 30 bucks, like I mean, it doesn’t hit that hard. You’re like a piece of junk. Okay, I’ll get a different one next time. I think it’s as you as you get to higher dollar values, you know that second and third party verification matters so much more and then also different products to people are more sensitive to so oddly, food, you know it people are more sensitive to it, because it’s, it’s a massively competitive market and you’re putting it in your body and people have, you know, 1000s of options of what to eat. And so just having that validation that it actually tastes good are your friend like that is important. And I don’t know, I think I think that it depends on the product category, where you really need to go boots on the ground versus straight online. But I do think straight online works for certain categories.
David Ralph [19:44]
We’re talking to Andrew from urban Smokehouse and we’ll be straight back.
Speaker 4 [19:48]
My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him. And so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant. And when I was 12 years old, he was like go from that safe job. And our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
David Ralph [20:14]
Now, I want to take the conversation away from the business back onto you. Because there’s that time when you’re in corporate land, you’re thinking of quitting, you’re probably sitting around with your potential parents or whatever going on, I’m going to quit this job. What the hell are you doing? What the hell are you doing? You’ve got a job for life, you’ve got a secretary that sit on your lap, you’ve got all these these perks? Why are you doing it? This always seems to me to be the moment when you’ve got to be extremely selective about who you share your dreams with. Because these dreams can get crushed at this moment. So did you go for a laugh? Or did you just know it was going to work? Did you have people that were trying to route you back?
Andrew Bueller Urban Smokehouse [21:01]
Yeah, you know, a lot of my family, you know, definitely said, you know, try this as a side hustle, you know, try to try to do it at the same time while doing your your other job, when it hits, you know, call it critical mass or a certain threshold, you know, then you can go all in. And there are other people that, you know, tried to deter me or tell me to stick with the path I was already on. Because the path I was on was it was a good path and you know, more consistent, guaranteed. And it’s funny, when it’s always the parents who tell you, you know, what are you going to do about health insurance? Or like, what are you going to do about this or that, you know, you might be you might be receiving from your current employer, but I don’t know, I took I took the mindset. And I forget where, where maybe this initial thought entered my mind. But I’ve heard it resonated from another a number of different sources, it’s, you know, at the end of the day, it’s your life, and you got to make sure that you get out of it what you want. It’s great, it’s great to have good sounding boards and people for advice and people you can go to, but in certain moments, you’ve got to do what you want to do. And if you want to take a chance on it, go for it. You know, one of the one of the reasons I encourage people to also pursue kind of entrepreneurship, on the younger side, rather than the later side is, you know, not having dependents is is also a huge benefit, you know, not having children that are reliant on me for you know, different resources, or a wife or, you know, a big mortgage or big car payment, or this this or that, you know, it makes it easier because there’s less people things that are truly reliant on you. So, you know, I’m fortunate, I guess, at this to have taken a step, while being, you know, single, no dependents, I think it’s a lot harder, because then you have to take into account other people’s livelihood and their dependency on you. But, you know, you got to risk it if you if you want to do what you actually want. And this is the least risky way to do it is when there’s when there’s no one counting on you.
David Ralph [23:06]
I did it with five kids, a wife. You know, I did it had a worse time. I look back on it now. And I
Andrew Bueller Urban Smokehouse [23:13]
think you got bigger balls than me. That’s incredible.
David Ralph [23:16]
Well, my balls are huge. My balls are huge. But I think they’re kind of shrinking, to be honest, because I look back on that decision. And I think to myself, Why the hell did I make it why, you know, it must have just been building up building up building up until it was undeniable. Because now I look back on it. And the last thing that I tell anyone to do is quit their job, punch their boss in the face and walk out. I always say to them, what your parents said, do it as a side hustle, build up to it, once it gets to a certain point, then make the decision. But whatever way you do it, it always comes back to drive. I think this is the thing. You can’t teach people to hustle. They’ve either got it or they haven’t. So have you always been a hustler? Have you always been somebody that is willing to get up every day? And do the work even though you may not get the results?
Andrew Bueller Urban Smokehouse [24:15]
Yeah, well, I was. I was a competitive swimmer, most of my life, which involves, you know, waking up at 5am for the first practice, and you know, doing the second one after school or after work or whatever it is, but I was swimming 12 times a week. So you know, six, six days a week, two times a day for, I don’t know, 15 or 20 years. I started when I was six and I stopped when I was 22. Obviously when you’re younger, you’re not spending that much but you know, builds up into kind of that level of intensity. And I don’t know I’ve also always wanted to make it I’ve always wanted to voice had little business ventures. Me and my friend sold T shirts in college. You know, we’ve always had little little side hustles for lack of a better term to try to make an extra buck or I try to get out a little bit. So yeah, that’s how to describe or quantify that I’ve always had a bit of a hustle a man, they’re willing to go the extra mile to make something happen.
David Ralph [25:09]
Well, with your business, you must have done you because let’s talk about the process. Okay, as you say it’s a real barbecue, from farm to home. So, first of all, you want to partner with us farmers for sustainably raised livestock. So other than walking up to a farm and knocking on the door, or dragging a farmer off his tractor as he’s driving past? How do you start letting them know that you’re serious? And you’re not just some guy that’s turned up in the car to have a chat? How do you partner with us farmers in a way that can actually help you build your business?
Andrew Bueller Urban Smokehouse [25:45]
So probably going a step before that? I think something that we did, which helped legitimise the business or show everyone that we’re serious, just kind of the tail end of your question there is we did a Kickstarter campaign. And Kickstarter is like a crowdfunding website. And essentially, it’s a way to collect pre orders. So we did a Kickstarter campaign in July of 2022. And we set a goal of $25,000. And I think we raised a little over 30,000. And we did it all, in just over 24 hours, it didn’t like 25 hours and change. And so that allowed us to that really go to everyone, whether it was the distributor, the place where we want to make it where the food’s coming from our customers and say, Hey, listen, we want to make this product. There’s already a couple 100 People who have already given us their money and are now waiting for the product. And assuming we don’t, this year, we’ve proven there’s a little bit of a market fit are people are saying they want this and so that, that helps legitimise you and you approach anyone, because it’s no longer an idea. And it’s, Hey, we have commitments, and we have money in hand, so it shows them one, you have the ability to pay because the money is already in your account. And to this hopefully isn’t going to be one order and gone. There’s already a small customer base that exists. And so I think the crowdfunding route, in addition to validating us to everyone in our ecosystem, or supply chain, or just the people we want to work with, it also helps me as an entrepreneur, gain confidence in the idea, and also not invest and equipment or people or machinery or a tonne of things, until I know that the until I know that the business has some validation. So it’s collecting reorders or doing a crowdfunding campaign, I can’t emphasise enough is an amazing idea. Because it gives it a Dyrus the business from a financial standpoint for yourself, because you’re getting money before you actually invest in most things. And then it also validates yourself to everyone that you want to work with. Because you have money in hand and you have customers that are waiting. And so yeah. I forget the first half of your question, but that’s how I pretty much showed everyone. We were very serious today. Listen, we already got 30 grand in hand, there’s a couple 100 people waiting for some ribs, let’s make them. And that made everyone around the table no matter if they were helping ship it, make it, supply it get excited because they knew we could pay it. They knew it was going to be consumed, you know, in a week or two?
David Ralph [28:23]
Yeah, well, okay, so So you put you put it out to market, basically the concept, you’ve got the investment, you then go to the farmers and say, Look, we want some of your cows. Okay. But then that does it escalate in expense? Does that 30,000 disappear very, very quickly? Has there been times when cash flows become a problem? Tell us about this sort of real nasty jokes about sort of, yeah, getting it from that, that concept actually out into the out into the real world?
Andrew Bueller Urban Smokehouse [28:56]
Totally, ya know, you you’re like, great, we have 30 grand, and then you spend it all to fill all the orders and you’re like, Well, where do we go from here? Because you also have to when you’re doing pre orders and things like that yet the offer discounts and incentivize people to take that first mover risk on you and all sorts of things. And so it gave us call it a foot in the sand. You know, we now had a couple 100 people’s email addresses, we now had people that you know, could write reviews about the product and eat the products but we essentially got the 30,000 and spent it you know, within a matter of weeks just filling those orders and a lot of a lot of these. A lot of services that you’re going to need to create a business also might have like one time upfront costs. So for example, we partner with a firm in Wisconsin that those are like cold storage and fulfilment. So they’re ultimately the people that do like the pick and pack of the orders. They say hey, you know mail two slabs of ribs to David for to Andrew 60 John etc, they did the pick and pack and they and there’s they’re sitting on the meat as well before they pick and pack it, it’s a cold storage facility. You know, there’s one time upfront cost, you know, onboard with them, there’s one time upfront costs to create the labelling for the product that you then can reuse in the future. But most likely, in any business, there’s going to be a tonne of like, one time upfront costs. And so even if the product is profitable, on a unit economic standpoint, you’re probably going to be spending 1000s of dollars, investing and just setting setting things up. So you have a foundation to continue to operate in different parts of the value chain. And so we quickly spent basically all that money. And the business definitely did not make money. I mean, we were spending a significant chunk of my savings for a number of months. You know, racking up the credit card, you name it, you know, we’re bootstrappers baby, we own 100%. And we’re
David Ralph [30:58]
true, because I know that that’s a big part of entrepreneurial life, you you cash flow is king, as I say, and there’s going to be times when the income is only going one way, and that’s not into your pocket. But as an entrepreneur, you still have to do that. Is it? Is it the passion for the dream? Or is it what do you know what what made you keep on getting your credit card out and spending your own money?
Andrew Bueller Urban Smokehouse [31:26]
Its vision and faith in the vision. So it’s it’s realising that, hey, this is this is the, the period that’s going to suck, you know, the first year, the first couple years might suck. But, you know, if you have a long term vision, and you have milestones or goals, you’re setting and you see yourself getting closer and closer to something that maybe is economically viable, or is becoming profitable, you know, you, you sign up for another lap, you sign up for another, you keep going. I think there’s definitely points where if I didn’t hit certain sales milestones or profitability metrics or things like that, you also have to know when to pull the court. You can’t can’t keep going forever. But you know, the story on paper appeared to be improving, you know, month over month and getting better and better. And we’re getting more five star reviews and more people were coming back and more people were coming to the business as first time customers. And as, as you see that story improving. You kind of want to keep you want to you want to sign up for the next episode you want to you want to watch it play out.
David Ralph [32:34]
And how much money did you sort of actually, what always interests me is I look at the businesses that I run, and we do about five of them now. And the amount of money I wasted on stuff that I thought was needed or required, where it was cuz I’d kind of basically forgotten the concept about business. And that is fulfilling somebody’s needs and a story. If somebody’s got a problem, they’ve got an issue, how do you solve that? It’s not all the the system’s behind the scenes. So how much of it do you look back on and think to yourself, if I could go back in time, there’s no way that I’d throw 1000s in that direction and 1000s in that direction.
Andrew Bueller Urban Smokehouse [33:20]
There definitely are a couple of those scenarios. But I do think that I was fortunate enough to, you know, come from the investors seat for for 10 years. And so I got to study or see under the hood, you know, of 1000s of businesses, and I got to see what made some, you know, significantly more profitable than others and kind of how people manage certain costs and expectations. And it’s funny, something I actually hate as a business owner, you talk to so many people, and so many people want to give you advice or give you guidance, and it’s funny, 95% of the people’s advice I always get is basically to spend more money. It’s like, oh, like why don’t you do this? Why don’t you do that it’s like, well, that cost this this cost that like, if I can’t see the tangible return on it, especially in these early stages, it’s really not worth pursuing those because the existing path is working. And if I can, if I keep feeding the fire that’s working, and it has much more visibility into the economic results of it. I rather do that before we start pursuing new channels and after master new arts, and it could be a potential zero.
David Ralph [34:30]
I will tell you, Andrew, that 95% of the advice that I get is basically absolute pointless because I’ve already thought of it and I’ve already moved past that. And the other 5% You know, for example, there was a business that I had that we were really going through cashflow problems, and one of my mates said have you thought of putting your prices up what you know, and it was just like stupid stuff that you You’ve obviously gone through you Don’t be careful with the advice you get, because a lot of it is just simplistic rubbish.
Andrew Bueller Urban Smokehouse [35:06]
It is it’s it’s someone that’s thought about it for 20 minutes or you’ve thought about it for years, or however long all day every day. So it’s it’s funny, and I you know, we obviously appreciate everyone’s feedback and I love that anyone taking an interest or, or wanting to help but
David Ralph [35:23]
now you don’t know you don’t love most of it off. Yeah, you don’t love the ones which which people actually piss you off because I’ll be honest, my wife pisses me off. She says things. And I think to myself, you don’t have any idea. You’ve just opened your mouth. And it’s just, you know, blesser Messer, I say in case she listens to this podcast, but she annoys me. And so I don’t like all feedback.
Andrew Bueller Urban Smokehouse [35:51]
Now, I agree, I agree with that. I don’t want to name anyone on the podcast that will hear it as well, either. But you know, I definitely have a few threads that always chime in and say, you know, oh, why don’t you you know, spend money on this new marketing channel or do this. And it’s, again, it’s just not tangible. It’s if they were writing the checks, they’d feel about it differently. And that’s another thing if you were in this seat, you’d feel about it differently.
David Ralph [36:15]
Yeah. Now, that’s a good way of saying it, isn’t it? Okay, you give me five grand. And if it makes a profit, I’ll give you the money back. But if it doesn’t match your money gone?
Andrew Bueller Urban Smokehouse [36:24]
Yeah. That’s a better way to think about it. Yeah. Yeah, I
David Ralph [36:27]
like that bit of advice. So you’ve got the got the premium cuts? It’s all coming along. The bit that interests me most, is that source? Is this like a secret sauce? But like, KFC kind of do and Coca Cola? Or? Or is it a source for actually, every family in America as got because they understand the taste?
Andrew Bueller Urban Smokehouse [36:51]
It is proprietary, it is our sauce? And actually, that’s something that it’s a common customer feedback, we actually get a lot of people have asked, do we sell the sauce? Or can I can I buy the sauce. So that’s definitely a product, we want to launch in the near to medium term future as well. And honestly, that’s a bit where I’ve actually leaned on, on some of my family, I’ve leaned on my dad for some of these recipes. And for some of these flavour profiles given you know, he’s, he’s been cooking for many people for a very long time. And so he’s definitely helped in some of the core product engineering side. And then there’s also a taste testing phase, you know, are you, you know, make 10 different sauces, and you try them and you come up with your favourite, but then I, you know, I’m I’m not the entire market, I then you know, have 15 or 20 friends over for a barbecue and make them sample everything and make them vote, force rank, you know, one through three, or force rank, these are that and you go through iterations, but ultimately, everything we do sell weed we make ourselves and so it is, you know, unique to our brand. And we do eventually want to sell our sauces as well. It is a what I’d call a more traditional kind of like sweet barbecue sauce. But that’s also not the only product we plan on carrying in the future we want to the way I view the product roadmap right now is we want to extend expand by protein verticals first. So we started with pork baby back ribs, not ever needs pork. Recently added beef brisket not ever needs beef or pork, we’re going to add a chicken product next. And eventually we add vegetables that eventually once you have kind of one of every base layer so that you know a vegetarian or pescatarian. XYZ dietary or lifestyle preference person can at least eat one item on your menu. Then we’re going to iterate on flavours and then we’re going to go back to the sauce lab and try to make some new unique sauces and seasonings and make new iterations or flavours on top of those proteins. But to get back to your original question. Yes, the sauce is unique to us. It’s proprietary, a lot of people love it. We’ll probably start selling the sauce here soon, too. It’s been requested by a number of customers.
David Ralph [39:01]
Now I’m going to tell you something, Andrew, is probably a shock to you. I’ve been to America many, many times. The Americans love to eat and their ribs. Honestly, I It’s like having half a dinosaur put on your plate. It’s like the biggest ribs I’ve ever seen in my life. Do people complain about the size and the portions? Do they expect these kinds of this half a horse but you get into restaurants. When when we go to America me and my family we order one and secretly cut the up into four bits for each of us. You know we we just can’t eat that but the older Americans ate they like it. So um, what about quantities?
Andrew Bueller Urban Smokehouse [39:40]
Yeah, so there’s a couple different cuts for starters. So the ones that are the most the largest, often actually are called dyno ribs, their beef ribs. We actually don’t sell that we sell pork baby back ribs, which tend to be a little bit smaller. There’s obviously spareribs there’s different there’s different ways to cut ribs off of a pig. But arguably the portion we’re selling tends to be the on the smaller side. And also, you might have heard that heard of the term like a full slab versus a half slab, or full rack versus a half rack. I also tend to agree that a half rack is for like, a very hungry man. And like I’m sorry, a full rack is very, very hungry man and a half racks likely what most people want to eat. So we we sell just half racks, we sell the free portion and a half racks. If you need a full rack, you can have two of them. But that’s the way we kind of get around the portion, or the sizing per customer because I think that’s a more appropriate size for most people. And if you want more than that, you can just cook multiple. But yeah, we pre portioned into half slabs or half racks.
David Ralph [40:48]
So we play time when you pass the sort of issues, we have money coming out of your savings, and money started to come back in. Now, this is another moment when people go great. I’m making money Let’s buy a Porsche. But what we say is no you invest it back into the business you you’ve sustained the business, you build those those foundations even stronger. Do you remember that moment that you did the figures and you thought, oh my god, yeah, we’ve actually come out profit.
Andrew Bueller Urban Smokehouse [41:21]
I do. And luckily, I also never had the force thought, because I’ve always believed in like compounding. And I’ve said, you know, let’s reinvest everything we can for as long as we can. And let’s see where this thing ends up. And you know, 10 years or 15 years over like we’re trying to, we’re trying to build equity value, we’re not trying to take as much money as we can out of the business. And it’d be a lifestyle business, we’re trying to invest every dollar every ounce of blood and every ounce of sweat into this to make as big of a business as we can. But yeah, I do remember it and honestly for us. So originally, I mentioned the sales strategy heavily revolved around pop ups doing in person experiences. The first turning point, which became really exciting to me, was when sales flipped from like in person to online, and most of our sales started coming from the internet. And we actually learned how to be successful on Facebook and Instagram and some of the social media channels. And we started seeing our customer acquisition costs get lowered become profitable online. That was the first like, this is awesome, because that has theoretically infinite scale versus you know, being a guy with a barbecue on the corner in New York, that’s limited by foot traffic and by the people there and how many you can cook at a time and you know, tonnes of other variables. So that was the first like, yes, moment. And then the second yes moment was when kind of we hit a sales number where we started being able to cover a lot of our overhead costs. And we don’t have a tonne of overhead costs. We’ve intentionally made the business very variable, but you know, there are there are at the end of the day, some overhead costs. And so once we had call it Yeah, profitability with the coupled, significant increase in online sales, that was the second yes moment. And then you go back to the drawing board and go unprofitable again. Because you need to launch a second product and you design another label and you do product innovation, you there’s this or that. And so we kind of went through that iteration again two months ago, and it worked out great. And last month, ended up being you know, another record month. And we
David Ralph [43:26]
know does that make it easier once you’ve done the first one is it kind of Winson? Really,
Andrew Bueller Urban Smokehouse [43:32]
it does make it easier, it does make it easier. I think that concept, you can put it any any metric you want here, you know, the hardest dollar earns the first dollar, the hardest customer to get the first customer or his product to launch is probably the first product because you get key learnings from all those and you get better at it each time. It certainly isn’t easy the second time, but it was a lot it is an easy in absolute terms. But it’s easier than the first time.
David Ralph [43:59]
Yeah. And so would you go back and do anything different Andrew? Or do you look at it and think no, actually, these dots have lined up quite nicely for me.
Andrew Bueller Urban Smokehouse [44:10]
Couple different things. So I think one I was slow to invest in actually like the digital marketing piece of this. I really wanted to rely on like, I thought I could do it more in a grassroots fashion. And it was grassroots. But in order to really accelerate that curve and get customers like outside of the geographies that I’m physically in, I needed to invest in some form of like digital marketing sooner. So we did the Kickstarter in July of 2022. We actually made the product and started shipping it in September September of 2022. And we probably didn’t invest in digital marketing until the week of like Thanksgiving that year. And so it was really just grassroots doing pop ups, spreading word of mouth, encouraging people to talk about it online for a couple months. And it wasn’t it wasn’t growing fast enough. It was definitely kind of flat. and are consistently staying the same size. And then we invest in digital marketing and there’s a tonne of learnings there, you know, you’re gonna, you’re gonna suck at anything you do the first week. And so it took us, you know, a month or two to find our bearings there. And then we really hit a stride. And the business really started to scale. And so I definitely wish I got into that a little bit earlier,
David Ralph [45:19]
is quite quick, though your journey is quite quick from, from the Kickstarter to shipping products to, you know, that flat line, I know people that have flatlined for 678 months or whatever, that yours was quite quick.
Andrew Bueller Urban Smokehouse [45:35]
What helps in your story is only, you know, 15 or 16 months long. So that is either whole stories of flatline our whole stories up into the right at this point, are still fairly young company, but you know, I really do credit and that was one of the blessings of, of being an investor for a long time was, you know, I got to study businesses for 10 years of every industry and I got to study, you know, what worked well and what didn’t, and ultimately, the people that everyone wanted to invest in, and the people that everyone didn’t want to invest in and, and, and being able to study businesses and learn about businesses, from their operators, and then, you know, doing a tonne of industry research on them and things of that nature. It gave me a very good framework for how I wanted to approach this. And I, I really credit that to some of my success thus far. I think that there’s definitely values to like pursuing entrepreneurship earlier versus later. But I hit a good sweet spot where I was able to learn for a good bit, you know, save for a good bit, but also not be further out on the spectrum right. Now was to deep down that curve where I was, the golden handcuffs are created. I’m making too much money in a in a career. It’s a bigger leap of faith to leave now all that certainty. I had a good sweet spot with not giving up too much and not having dependents but being able to learn and save for a good bit. And I think that really helped me just structure how I want to do things.
David Ralph [47:04]
If I misspeak question, I think this is the fundamental question that probably the whole conversation has been built on. Do you ever go into restaurants and actually ordered the ribs? Or do you look at them and think, oh, no, the last thing that I want is ribs.
Andrew Bueller Urban Smokehouse [47:18]
I’ll be honest, I think I’ve maybe ordered ribs on the menu like once this past year. I made it eating plenty of ribs these days. It’s even hard. I’ll be honest, it’s hard for me even at the pop up sometimes, like if we do if I have like, a week where I’m doing a bunch of pop ups like usually the first few times like it’ll be my lunch or dinner if I’m you know, working in event, I’m helping out I’ll be like a you know, throwing on for me, but towards the end of the week. I’m like we’ve had enough ribs this week. What
David Ralph [47:47]
about the smell as well? Does it Does it still make your taste buds salivate? Or if you’re surrounded by it all the time, do you think oh my god,
Andrew Bueller Urban Smokehouse [47:56]
this smell is still seductive. And it’s funny. So I’ll go in sometimes saying I’m not going to eat ribs. And then you get tricked by that. Yeah, I’ll just have one. Now I have to eat the smell. The smell still gets me. So that’s that’s one thing I haven’t gotten over yet.
David Ralph [48:10]
passion for the business. And you’re three quarters of the way there? Well, this is something that we’ve been leading up to that means that we’re three quarters of the way to the end of the podcast, and this is the Sermon on the mic when we get you to go back in time and speak to your younger self. And if you could walk into a room and speak to the young Andrew, what advice would you give him? Well, we’re going to find out because I’m gonna play the theme. And when it fades is your time to share. This is the Sermon on the mic
Justin Cooke Empire Flippers [48:42]
here we go with the best bit of the show. My man
Andrew Bueller Urban Smokehouse [49:02]
pay everyone. You know, I think my main message to anyone that’s considering entrepreneurship is honestly just go for it. You know, one of the challenges is people often are looking for that perfect timing. And I truly believe there’s no such thing as perfect timing. You might be delaying it for some sort of milestone, hey, I want to you know, have X amount and savings already or reach a certain milestone in my education or my existing career, or this or that or, you know, your family wants you to be more secure and this or that. But unfortunately, it’s the stars will never fully fully align. And in my opinion, if you really want to do something, you should go for it now because it’s actually only going to get harder as you get a little bit older and I encourage people to take the leap of faith as early as possible. If they’re considering it. Just go for it. That’s my chairman.
David Ralph [49:50]
Just go for it. Perfect advice. So Andrew, what’s the number one best way that our audience who’ve been listening and hopefully you’re salivating and I can connect with you.
Andrew Bueller Urban Smokehouse [50:03]
Go to our website, go to urban smokehouse.co If you’re interested in trying the products, and then if, if not, you want to stay up to date with the story. That’s our tag on all social media, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube Tiktok at Urban smokehouse.co. So I’d appreciate a follow up comment a like on any of those if you want to try the product, check out the website. We’d love to we’d love to stay connected with you all.
David Ralph [50:28]
We’ll have all the links in the show notes to make it as easy as possible. Andrew, thank you so much for spending time with us today. Joining up those dots of your business and please come back again, when you’ve got more dots to join up because I do believe that by joining up the dots and connecting our past is always the best way to build our futures. Andrew, thank you so much.
Andrew Bueller Urban Smokehouse [50:49]
Thank you, David. Thank you is awesome.
David Ralph [50:53]
So for you out there cooking. Have you got a recipe that you think to yourself, yeah, I could market this and then people can just have it. Now you don’t want to think to yourself, oh God, the supermarket’s have already got this cupboard. As Andrews proved if you’ve got a product that touches in on customer needs, I laziness, a desire, speed, efficiency, all the kinds of things that just makes people’s lives easier, then you can compete with global companies. You don’t have to be frightened by anything. So ask your nan Asha granny about some recipe you loved as a kid. It might be the next big thing. But until next time, thank you so much for everybody listening to this podcast and I will see you again. Cheers. See ya. All right.
That’s the end of Join Up Dots. You’ve heard the conversation. Now it’s time for you to start taking massive action. Create your future create your life. Izzy only you live God. We’ll be back again real soon. Join Up Dots during the gods Join Up Dots. Gods Jolina Join Up Dots