Explosive Consumer Product Launches, with Spin Jammer & SearBQ Creator Michael Sandeen

We talk a lot about the high failure rates of consumer products. It’s a tough road, and launching a hit consumer product is a rare event. Michael Sandeen is an innovator who’s exploded those odds—and he’s now done it twice. 

Thirty-five years ago Michael created Spin Jammer, a uniquely spinnable flying disc that sold by the millions in big-box retail stores like Walmart, Toys R Us and K-Mart. Then, in late 2020, he introduced SearBQ, a cast-iron griddle and press combination for the barbecue, and it turned to be his second hit product. But SearBQ doesn’t sell retail: it is only available direct-to-consumer (DTC), through what is now one of Shopify’s top-selling new stores.

It’s very deliberately a different strategy, and Michael Sandeen has been quick to adopt other new ways for SearBQ. He started out with a successful Kickstarter campaign, and due to pandemic-induced supply and shipping challenges, launched his summer product in the middle of winter—the winter solstice to be exact—and too late to capture holiday sales. 

Sales exploded nonetheless, and Michael quickly found himself facing new challenges, battling retail giants for shipping freighter space and Amazon for packing materials. Growth would be the next frontier in his DTC experiment, and he’d need to pull out everything he’s learned to manage it successfully. 

In this mouthwatering episode (we do talk about food more than we’d meant to—SearBQ has that effect) Michael Sandeen shares how he leveraged three-and-a-half decades of product design, manufacturing and selling experience to make launching a breakthrough product seem so easy. It ain’t just spin and sizzle—but those things help!

Here are some key-takeaways from this exciting and enlightening episode:

• How selling consumer products has transformed since the late ’80s (2:00)
• Why a retail veteran decided to sell only direct-to-consumer (3:30)
• How one big idea and two burned steaks sparked SearBQ (5:04)
• Delighting ideal buyers and winning over the haters (8:00)
• Why Michael won’t use Kickstarter for another product, despite his success (12:47)
• Things product-makers need to know about Kickstarter marketing agencies (15:08)
• The biggest lesson from supply-chain challenges and inventory depletion (17:00)
• Where you CAN’T beat Walmart and Target (17:45)
• The importance of continuous improvement—even when you’re crushing it (19:20)
• How beautiful product design and smart engineering are critical success triggers (20:00)
• Putting the brand name front and center on the product (22:15)
• Leaving room for buyers to surprise you (23:30)
• The (hands-down) best things SearBQ’s inventor loves to cook on it (24:42)
• The innovation curve never ends (27:45)

The Product Launch & Marketing Agency: GraphosProduct.com