The GrillGun | The Ultimate Man-Tastic Gift | How to Create and Market a Product

Show Notes

Thrive Nation on today’s show We are interviewing Bob Healey, an engineer with over 30 years of experience who is also the founder of amazing new product called The GrillGun. He shares how to create and market a new product

  • Bob welcome onto the Thrivetime Show! How are you sir?!
    • I’m just fine Clay, thank you to both you and to Dr Z  for having me on today.
  • Bob, for the listeners out there who are not familiar with The GrillGun, what is it and when did you first get the idea to create this product?
    • Well Clay, it is a high powered propane torch that is designed for you to be able to conveniently light a charcoal grill in minutes rather than 10’s of minute
    • It’s really not a tool or even a type of tool that people would be familiar with, because it is entirely new both in purpose and appearance
    • The designed purpose is to comfortably and safely use the GrillGun to flame up your charcoal and warm up your grill, sterilize the grill grates and start cooking over charcoal or on a smoker in just minutes
    • The whole notion of lighting a charcoal grill pretty much instantly is not something that people do or have done, I think largely because there never has been a torch quite like this one, that makes it easy and convenient to do
    • I got the idea to create the grill GrillGun in December 2018, because I’ve been using generic high power weed torches for this purpose for well over a decade now.  One day when I was grilling (in December) I wondered just what kind of product I would need to design and manufacture, that I could “mainstream” the whole concept of lighting a charcoal grill in a minute.
    • For me charcoal grilling is a year-round activity.  I don’t need warm summer days to get me in the mood to spend an afternoon on the grill, I like charcoal grilling and I can step outside when it’s 25 degrees outdoors, light the grill throw on the food and jump back inside where it’s warm.
    • In order to light and heat up a charcoal grill nearly instantly, you need a lot of heat and you need to be able to easily control where you are applying the fire
    • The GrillGun is easy, fast, fun and a great conversation piece at parties or when you have friends and family over for outdoor grilling or barbecue dinner year round
    • I can’t tell you how fun it is to see the look of amazement on peoples faces and how excited they are when they see the GrillGun for the first time and consider the whole concept.
    • Most people that like it, like everything about it.  To quote one guy who used it: “It’s a gun that shoots fire… what’s not to like?”
  • Bob, my understanding is that your product helps people to light their charcoal grill within 60 seconds…why would anyone want to light their charcoal grill within 60 seconds?
    • If your like me and you like to eat food, cooked over charcoal all the time, but you just don’t regularly have the time, or want to take the time to sit back and make an event out of it, then this is the solution for you.
    • There are a lot of people that really don’t think there is a need to light charcoal fast, because BBQing and grilling is naturally kind of a slow, laid-back lifestyle and they don’t want to rush it.Hey I applaud them, if they have the time and they want to make an afternoon of grilling, that’s great, but there is nothing says you can’t relax just because you can get you grill ready to cook in a minute.  
    • I think they are missing the point.  You can still take you time to cook drink you beer and prepare you meals, but why not light the charcoal in just seconds rather than it taking half an hour or more.  
    • The number one complaint about charcoal grilling is how long it takes to light charcoal, and the number two complaint is that if you use lighter fluid it will smell bad and give your food a nasty unhealthy petroleum flavor.
    • Charcoal chimneys, lighter fluid, electric elements, small torches, electric fans to fan the flame… they are all quite a production to use them and they all take quite a while to get the grill started, compared to the speed and ease of GrillGun
    • That’s why most people opt to buy and use a propane or gas grill because of the time and ease of getting their food cooked.  That’s evident by the fact that gas grill sales make up 60% of the total grill market each year over the 40% for charcoal grills.
  • Bob, how would you describe the look of the GrillGun?
    • It looks like a semi-automatic slide action pistol with a long barrel and a fire bell on the end.  The overall length is just under 22” long, so the barrel is long enough to get the fire away from you so you can operate it safely, but not so long that it looks goofy or is hard to handle.  It’s really designed to be comfortable to hold, well balanced in your hand and to use safely use in front or off to the side of a charcoal grill.
    • On the bottom of the handle, you connect small 1lb propane bottles of propane fuel, like coleman camp fuel, or benzomatic MAP gas, directly to the GrillGun.  Or if you prefer, like I do, you can use an 8’ adapter hose to connect the GrillGun to a much larger 20 lb propane tank.
  • Bob, why are you confident that there is a need for this product?
    • Again, the number one reason people cook on a gas grill instead of charcoal, is how long it takes to light.  This solves the problem in spades.
    • More than just a need, I’m seeing real enthusiasm for the product.  You’ll know if you have that enthusiasm in just seconds after visiting my website.  You’ll either think it’s the coolest thing you’ve EVER seen, or you won’t. It just that quick.
    • Aside from that, there are a dozen or more regular more niche needs for a torch of this kind, that is why high power torches exist today.  You can go buy them at any hardware store right now. It’s just that those needs are more niche needs, and the GrillGun is much more of a mainstream product category
    • And the best part is that the GrillGun does everything the weed torches do only better.  You can light not only grills, but anything else you might want to burn: fire pits, chimineas, campfires, bon fires, controlled pasture burns, etc.
    • The outdoor grilling market is enormous and dominated by gas grills, 60% gas to 40% charcoal.  Largely because it takes so long to light charcoal, people opt out of the flavor and benefits of hardwood grilling and smoking, in favor of the convenience of the gas or propane grill.
    • I hope that in time, the GrillGun turns that statistic on its head.
  • Bob, what was your process like for creating your first prototype?
    • Well first I had to figure out what the tool needed to be.  It wasn’t obvious that modeling it after a gun would be the ticket, I just wanted to make it fun, exciting, convenient, safe and cost effective.
    • I asked a lot of friends and family, what they thought it would need to look like and the consensus was that it needed to look like a hand gun to make people want to own one, just for the novelty aspect.
    • Then I needed to make a list of “must haves” in design features to make it safe, durable, robust and effective.  I came up with a list of some 11 design elements that must be in it and then I bounced them off my close confidants to see if I had covered all the bases
    • Then I had to get busy modeling it up in 3D software so I could start making the parts
  • Bob, we’ve interviewed so many entrepreneurs who talked about the challenges of starting a business. For you what has been the most challenging aspect of starting this business?
    • There are two challenges that I’m dealing with, raising capital to fund the manufacturing, and getting the word out so that people will want to buy one.  You’ve got to get people to know what you have in order for them to want to buy one. You can have the greatest idea in the world and if no one knows about it, then it goes nowhere.
    • As a businessman and engineer I’ve had decades of experience of making cool things and positioning them to be successful in the marketplace, but I’ve never had the need to raise capital for a “start-up” business or figure out how to actually sell them or get the word out to actually revolutionize and entire industry.
    • The GrillGun actually makes charcoal grilling faster than gas grilling, and you get to enjoy all the fun and health benefits of cooking over charcoal at the same time.
    • So I have the product, I have developed the high volume manufacturing resources, and everything is queued up and ready to go.
    • So now I’m trying to get the word out as many ways as possible so I can Crowdfund it to raise the necessary start-up capital.
  • Bob, share with us about your process for getting feedback on the GrillGun?
    • In-short, ask a lot of people in a bunch of different venues what they think.
    • I’ve gotten the GrillGun out on social media, built a web-presence, talked with buyers for hardware and leisure sports stores, showcased it at two business conventions last fall, and I’ve set up booths to showcase the GrillGun at two gun shows this spring where I have gotten a lot of direct feedback from potential customers.
  • Bob, describe vision for the GrillGun?
    • The GrillGun is the first of many models of charcoal lighting torches that I would like to introduce to the marketplace. 
    • I would like to introduce many different models over the years of other cool gun style torches so that people will collect them the way they collect guns today.
    • People collect guns because they like guns.  I would really like those same people to know that the GrillGuns are high quality collectables too.
    • Think: imperial blaster, AR15, etc and imagine what I could make just for the fun of it.
    • Likewise, I named my company GrillBlazer rather than GrillGun, to be the umbrella company for a wide range of cool grilling accessories that may or may not be propane powered torches.
  • Bob, what has been the most challenging aspect of getting the GrillGun into the marketplace?
    • Everything except designing it and setting up high volume offshore manufacturing.  I’ve done that for years, that kind of stuff is squarely in my wheelhouse.
    • However getting on podcasts and featured by influencers in blogs and telling the market what you’ve got, when bootstrapping a new company is difficult
    • People don’t know what you’ve got until you tell them, and that is a lot of work.
    • Just because this is my-full time endeavor doesn’t make it theirs, so everything around me seems to move slower than molasses
    • And in my case, I’ve got a product that really is a year-round kind of product with grilling in the summer and fireplaces in the winter, so telling all the stories in all the marketing campaigns is a lot to manage
  • Bob, if I want to get a GrillGun, what is the best way to go about it?
    • Right now it is to go to and sign up on the Get-Yours-Now tab.  There you will be able to sign up to support our crowdfunding campaign and be one of the first in line to own one.  Furthermore, if you need to understand more about what crowdfunding is, you can read all about that too on my website.
  • Bob, what’s the heat output for the GrillGun?
    • Really hot!
    • The GrillGun is designed to maximize the total energy available energy in propane and depending upon how full your propane bottle is or how warm it is outside, the output power over 400,000 BTUs of heat.
  • Bob, what is a BTU?
    • Now you’re asking me to use geek speak.
    • A BTU is an acronym for British Thermal Unit, which is a standard unit of measure which you can compare heat output of heat sources.
    • It is the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water, 1 degree fahrenheit.  One BTU equals 1055 Joules if that helps.
  • Bob, I see in your video, how you just light the charcoal through the grill grates, is that how you recommend doing it?
    • It depends on what matters to you in grilling.
    • If you have heavy steel or cast grates, they can take the heat of the flame going right through them
    • Smaller gauge wire, or powder coated wire grates will be damaged with the kind of heat the GrillGun puts out.  The heat will burn off the finish the first time it’s used, but then again so will the heat from the charcoal, so it’s a matter of personal preference.
    • I for one, prefer to sterilize the grill grates each time I charcoal by lighting the charcoal directly through the grill grates.  I burn off alll the residual grease and grime from the previous use. It’s wonderful at public campgrounds when you use those pole stands or ground grills.  You can instantly incinerate whatever debris has been deposited on them from birds or other animals or insects.
    • For sure if you are using the GrillGun on the big campground pole-stand grills or campfire grills, you would want to heat your charcoal right though those grills.
  • Bob, can I use the GrillGun with a ceramic cooker, or the Green Egg?
    1. Yes, the ceramic grills aren’t bothered by the GrillGun’s heat when just lighting the charcoal,
    2. For sure though any grill will suffer if you simply train the heat of the GrillGun on the metal sides or some small part of the ceramic.  Remember, it’s a ton of heat, all at once, and if you try to damage your grill you can. Just don’t.
    3. Light your charcoal and put it away, don’t use it to try and turn the grill itself orange
  • Bob, are there any regulations keeping you from using your GrillGun at home or a campgrounds?
    • Nope,  Torches are unregulated and there are plenty of torches available on the market today available for home use.  This is just a better more efficient one, specifically designed to mainstream in the grilling category.
  • Bob, if I’m listening to this show right now, what can I do to get my hands on a GrillGun?
    • You can’t, rather all you can do right now is to sign up for my Crowdfunding effort.  As soon as I have enough support to launch the campaign on Kickstarter, I will.
    • The manufacturing and shipping processes will then take about 4 to 6 months, so if enough people sign up today after listening to your show, that could be all I need to have them in their hands well before Christmas 2019.
  • Bob, I understand that the GrillGun will soon be featured on Kickstarter. How can our listeners support you with this endeavor?
    • If you sign up today, you will receive an email or text blast alerting you as to when the campaign goes live.
    • It is critical in crowdfunding to have all you interest hit the campaign website in the first 24-48 hours.  That is when the snowball effect happen
    • That’s why I’ve not launched the campaign yet.
    • I must know where my support is coming from or the campaign will not be successful.  If it’s not successful, then I won’t get the capital resources I need and I won’t be able to manufacture them.  It’s that simple
    • I need about 1400 people in my email list, all queued up to back this when it goes live, and your audience alone could make that happen.
    • If everyone listening to his podcast or live broadcast goes out right now and signs up, then I could launch the Kickstarter campaign immediately and be off to the races.
  • Bob, what is the best web address our listeners can visit to learn more about The GrillBlazer GrillGun?
    •, will get you there too.
  • Z, do you think there is a market for this?
    • Yes, it is a great gift for the man who already has everything.
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