Nas-Que — The Portable Nascar Shaped BBQ

by Jason -- November 19, 2009


One of the topics I like to write about are my attempts to make money while we travel. I previously wrote about selling books on Amazon. This post discusses my attempt at creating a portable barbeque-a “Nas-Que”.

My previous boss, Jeff, always had a product idea he was certain would strike it rich. The only problem was, he never had the opportunity to get the product passed the idea stage. As you could probably guess from the title of this post, his idea was a portable barbeque that is in the shape of your favorite Nascar. I was skeptical about the idea, but I believe Jeff is a smart guy and he seemed quite certain the product would be a success. I was interested in trying out something entrepreneurial so I decided that I would test the market with the product.

Here was my three step plan to test the market:

  1. Create mock-up images of the product –making it look as realistic as possible.
  2. Create a mock website where customers would be able to “buy” their very own Nas-Que. While checking out, however, they would see an “Out of Stock” message. Using Google Analytics, I can track how many people went through the checkout process and “purchased” the product.
  3. Finally, using Google Adwords, Craigslist and eBay, I would market the product and see what kind of results I would net.

Step 1 – Mock-up Images

eLance is an amazing website. If you’re interested in having a website built, a product manufactured, need legal services, or almost any other type of business service, eLance is your answer. Thousands of individuals, small and large companies are on eLance waiting to bid on your projects. Many of the bidders are located abroad or are individual contributors and thus you can get a project done at an extremely reasonable price.

For the portable Nascar barbeque, I created a word document with extremely detailed specs (Click to download). I took screenshots of the car I wanted it to look like and had examples of similarly sized portable barbeques. I gave the exact requirements for the images I was expecting and put the project up to bid.

In only 2 days, I received 6 bids from people all around the world. People from Bangladesh, UK, Tennessee and others were all bidding to create the portable barbeque images. Each bidder submits a proposal with an amount they will charge and also typically gives examples of their previous work. I sent each bidder some follow-up questions and ultimately chose an individual from the UK who bid $170 to do the project. All of the money is handled through eLance, so just like eBay, eLance stands behind its service and will help settle any disputes if they arise. Fortunately, there were no disputes whatsoever for this project. My UK consultant was fantastic. After clarifying our preferred working methods, he went to work. I asked for preliminary mock-ups and frequent check-ins to ensure we were headed in the right direction. Within 24 hours of starting the project I had very basic mock-ups in my inbox awaiting my feedback. We handled all communication with email and I would typically wake every morning with the latest revision in my inbox waiting for feedback. Within 4 days the project was complete, the images turned out fantastically and my consultant was paid.

Step 2 – Creating a mock website

The goal of this step was to create as realistic of a shopping experience as possible. I won’t go into great detail on creating the website — I’m not an expert by any stretch of the imagination. I purchased the domain name using GoDaddy, built the site using old-school HTML, and used some free Asian labor (Sharon) as my graphic designer. After a very frustrating week building the site (I’m not very good with HTML), it was finally ready to go!

The website was by no means professional looking or could even come close to passing for a true corporate website. But for what I was doing, I thought it was good enough. I think it gave off the impression that we were running the business out of a garage.

Here’s the address of the website, it’s still up:

Step 3 – Marketing

This was the fun part for me. I finally got to try my hand at Google Adwords. Again, I’m not going into detail on Google Adwords because there are thousands of better resources than myself. I’m an absolute beginner but I found it to be an amazing marketing tool. I was able to get a number of people to the site without spending much time or money. I also put the product up on a couple local Craigslist ads…because it’s free. And finally, I put the product on eBay, with the plan to cancel the auction before it ended. I was most interested in using eBay to test the price. I did an auction to see what price people were willing to pay for the barbeque.

What were the results?

Ultimately, I spent around $200 pursuing the idea:

$170 for the 2 images
$10 for the domain name
$25 on Google Adwords
$0 on Craigslist
$0 on eBay

I ended up with 5 solid leads. A couple people wanted to know if I had other drivers and others simply wanted to purchase. I was pleased with these results. For the amount of advertising I did, the ROI (return on investment) could very well be there for this type of product. However, after putting a lot of thought into further pursuing the idea (the next step would be licensing and creating a prototype) I decided against it. I know next-to-nothing about barbeques and even less about Nascar. I want to be passionate about what I do; I don’t want it to feel like a job. Sure, I could learn about barbeques and Nascar, but at the end of the day it just didn’t feel right.

I informed Jeff that Nas-Que was going back to just an idea. The experience was a great one however. I had never done something like this before. I gained experience with eLance and Google Adwords. I was extremely impressed with both and will certainly be using them for future projects. Perhaps a consumer electronics product next time though…that seems a lot more up my alley.

Be awesome and help us share:

7 Responses to “Nas-Que — The Portable Nascar Shaped BBQ”

  1. I think being a pro-bono vacation planner for your friends is what you should get passionate about.

  2. Also, check out this website

    It’s part of the empire. (You would both like all their stuff). You should work for one of those places scouting destinations. Or make your own similar site.

  3. On the plus side, that picture is amazing. I refuse to believe that’s not a real bbq. On the down side, I feel like you missed the obvious name choice. Doesn’t “Barbe-car” roll off the tongue significantly better?

  4. Btw, I thought of your next product for you: an ice cube tray that makes dreidel shaped ice cubes. What could be more up your alley than that?

  5. Hey, look for unique collectible items while you are travelling. Find it and sell it on-line or sell it in the next country you go to.

  6. The “Nas-Que” idea was really cute. While I was trying to find some good deals to replenish my workout wardrobe at Sports Authority during Black Friday, I saw a real portable roadtrip BBQ grill made by Coleman at the store. It looked almost the same as your idea, except it’s just plain looking. Guess what, its MSRP was like $179.99. I do think your idea is marketable at your asking price.

  7. […] discussed before what an amazing website eLance is. Elance has people for hire if you’re in need of anything from […]

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