If there’s one thing Kansas City celebrates more than entrepreneurship, it’s barbecue.
A local startup, Tappecue, plans to use its technology this weekend at the American Royal BBQ competition to assist in donating leftover food to the hungry.
Tappecue is a cloud-based “smart” barbecue thermometer, with which BBQ aficionados can monitor meat temperatures via a smartphone in any location. The technology firm announced a partnership with Kansas City nonprofit Kookers Care, an organization that collects barbecue to give to the needy.
Gina Bourret, Tappecue founder, read a 2016 news report detailing how more than 4,000 pounds of premium quality barbecue was thrown out after last year’s American Royal BBQ.
“Whenever the competitors cook, they just give a small portion to the judges,” Bourret said.
“But a lot of times, they end up having food leftover.”
Such food waste could have been avoided if the meat complied with the recommended FDA food code, Bourret said.
“With the Tappecue, you can pull up the temperature data log on a website and show the progress of the meat temperatures throughout a period of time,” she said. “Our technology gives peace of mind that the food was good quality and gives the necessary documentation for food inspectors.”
Bourret reached out to Kookers Care and decided to donate its technology for use during the competition in hopes of saving thousands of pounds of food, she said.
“We’re going to be using two Tappecue devices,” Bourret said. “One will be where the food is collected, and the other will be at the Harvesters truck where it will need to be kept cool.”
The Tappecue device launched in 2013 as a product of Bourret’s software consulting company, Innovating Solutions. The product is sold on Tappecue’s website and on Amazon.
Bourret said the Tappecue is not just for professionals, but for the backyard barbecue smoker.
“Our target market is people who want some freedom and ability to get away from the smoker and not sit in front of it all the time,” she said. “There our other barbecue thermometers on the market, but ours gives an unlimited range. Customers can go to dinner at a neighbor’s house, go in their garage, and still get alerts and look at temperatures on their phone.”
In January, the firm received a $5,000 microgrant from the World Trade Center of Kansas City, allowing it to expand its sales in Europe. Tappecue announced this month it has officially begun exporting to the United Kingdom.
“This has been a huge project that we’ve been working on for lot longer than when we first got the grant,” Bourret said. “I think it’s great to have the product in another market. It’s another opportunity to share the technology in Europe because there is not another product like it out there right now.”
The complexities for exporting overseas can be overwhelming, she said. The Tappecue team is thankful for Kansas City, the State of Missouri and the U.S. Department of Commerce, which all assisted the firm along the process, Bourret added.
“They made what seemed impossible possible,” she said.
Bourret is thankful to be scaling the product in the barbecue capital of the world. In Kansas City, the product basically sells itself, she said.
“Barbecue is a niche,” Bourret said. “People talk to each other.They have forums on Facebook groups. We are able to continue to grow this product without a large marketing budget.”
Looking to the future, Tappecue hopes to raise capital funding and bring the product to other markets across the globe.