One thing I noticed about Mary's product is, How would you clean it? 1 end is tapered so it can be inserted into the meat. If it's just for minced items that are stuffed into the stick, how difficult would it be to get all those (now baked) items back out and cleaned up for the next time? I cant imagine sitting there with a toothpick & poking out all those holes to clean it!
With the Dr's approach, it seems like you could be cleaned up in about 45 seconds!
I've used the Ronco flavor injector
with mixed results. It allows you to inject pieces, not just a liquid. But, its not easy, does not allow you to reach the center of the meat and can be time consuming, if doing multiple pieces of meat.
I think the DR has the right idea and will sell many times more than Mary's, because it allows you more versatility, much faster and easy to clean and/or switch over to a different liquid. If the price point is able to be kept low enough, this could be the item that sweeps the country and makes Backyard BBQ/Smoker a regular event. I would try to capture the homeowner market as well, even if it meant having a commercial & homeowner version - like the vacuum seal machines.
Advertised on the Home Shopping Network, SkyMall, QVC etc. You will find that by limiting your distribution points, (having only 1 source that can sell it) the cost will remain high. The Sole distributor is not as aggressive in marketing, when all sales have to go through them anyways. The only way to get your ROI, is through multi channel deployment. You want to make your profits on volume, not individual sales. Remember the Ginsu knives of the late 70's? They kept the price point low, provided a quality product and sold tens of millions of their knives. (thus was born the infomercial, but that's another story).
There's a few approaches to going to the next stage. Find an angel investor. Build a half dozen units that you know have a proven design. Approach QVC and the other networks, you will have to meet with them to demonstrate the product and also show that you can produce the product. (Bank financing is relatively easy once you have contracted commitments) They will tell you pretty close, how many will sell. Their in it to make money and will tell you what needs to be done. Contact the Food Network and EVERY chef on their website. It wont be the 1 phone call that get's you in.....it will be the 1 of 500 calls, that get you in. Dont laugh, their always looking for stuff like this. Guy Fieri, Bobby Flay, they all want to be one of the first to use this "New Culinary Tool". You may end up having one of them come to your place and do an episode.
Find a local venue to demonstrate publicly the product. Meet with a few cooking schools and offer to give them one in exchange for their endorsement. Also the students will take that experience with them upon graduating - to their place of employment. Then you have the restaurant exposure that your looking for.
Submit your product to a few trade magazines for review.
If you want to go further and when you have the funding, manufacturing infrastructure in place, Wal-Mart has a division that takes product's from concept thru distribution. Now that being said - there's a lot of headaches that go with selling through wal-mart.......but the volume is there and you just figure it into your margins.
If you wanted to outsource the manufacturing end of it, there's plenty of company's that will make, warehouse & ship the product. You must be prepared though, to stipulate the quality of parts - right down to the type of brass used on the fittings. Most importantly, like starting a hot dog stand, do your homework. Write a business plan, know your margins and what you need to make - to keep it rolling. Dont EVER sign over the intellectual rights to anyone, for any reason. There is nobody out there that is going to help you, that needs more then your signature on an "intent to promote/distribute" form. Have everything reviewed by your lawyer. Know your absolute drop-margin and never go below it. If its going to sell, it will sell. Nobody goes up to the cashier at the store and say's "ill give you $1.50 for this gallon of milk thats marked $3.45". If someone wants it, they will find a way to come up with the money. look at Electrolux, Rainbow, Kirby vacuums. They all go for around 1k and they SELL! People will find a way to get what they want. The key is exposure and in today's mega advertising/branding society, it REALLY IS just a matter of calling enough people and speaking with the right person. Everybody knows somebody, who knows somebody.
I really think you have something here, dont get discouraged. In 3 years, you could be sitting on the beach while someone hands you a sippy drink with an umbrella in it - and the lady next to you says "So, what do you do for work"?
Edited To Add; Find out what's involved in obtaining the "Coveted" NSF designation. Not having that, would be a deal-breaker for some places that are overseen by HD's that have a skewed interpretation of codes.
<message edited by Hot Dog Empire on Wed, 05/30/12 2:12 PM>