I started thinking about my product when I read the newspaper story about an accident victim being quoted as saying, “I remember I could hear my skin sizzle.” It was a visual image that was literally burned into my brain. Later the Wall Street Journal ran an article, "Gas Grills: Faster, Cleaner, More Perilous". In that article a few statistics stood out, one was that there were 5.3 million propane grills sold annually (now closer to 9 million) and that there were 5,300 propane grill accidents reported each year.
With the information above I knew there was a problem, I knew I had a solution and I knew the size of the new grill market. My plan was to patent the cover, contact the BBQ manufacturers and license it to them. Well it didn’t take long before I realized that no one in the propane tank and grill industry wanted to admit that they had a problem. It was very similar to the cigarette makers who didn’t want to acknowledge there was a health issue with smoking. Finally cigarette makers were forced to put warning labels on their product and in a similar fashion so were the grill manufacturers. The propane tank label warns of the potential of serious injury or even death. One company puts the required label on their grills but adds, “This is the back of the grill” and puts the warning label out of sight on the back of the grill.
I decided to self-venture the covers, took out a small SBA loan to develop the covers and packaging, attended trade shows and spread the word to the press. It was well received and my story was printed in about 30 newspapers, a dozen or so magazines and a couple of TV news segments. My goal was to demonstrate that the covers were a commercially viable consumer product and then get financial backing to bring it to market. I presented at Angel investor gatherings and VC events finally found an investor who agreed to invest $300,000. Long story short the investor died a week before his 84th birthday and before he transferred the money. Next up I found a company at one of the shows I attended who wanted to license my invention. Long story short I granted them an exclusive license and then they never manufactured it.
Today the exclusive license has expired and with crowdfunding a common vehicle for launching a product I am self-venturing again and this time with your help. The money you provide will go to placing an initial volume order, connecting with existing web based fulfillment and fine tuning our safety and environmental message so we can help protect lives and the world.