Thanks in large part to the pandemic, millions of people around the world are choosing to cook more meals from home. And with 7 in 10 consumers saying they will continue cooking after the pandemic, this sizzling hot trend is here to stay. This massive shift in consumer behavior is not lost on the folks at FireBoard Labs, as they take cloud-connected cooking to the next level with FireBoard Spark, a 4-in-1, folding instant-read probe thermometer and food-tracking hub for home and commercial cooks.
Headquartered in Kansas City, MO, FireBoard Labs designs and assembles all its products in the United States. Its monitoring technology has been a favorite of professional chefs and competition pitmasters and has helped novice barbecue enthusiasts through the learning curve as they master the art of old-school barbecue.
Like other FireBoard smart thermometers, The Spark connects wirelessly to the FireBoard app to chart temp readings and allow mobile monitoring of multiple foods, and a leave-in probe thermometer can monitor long smoker or oven cooks. The Spark can also serve as a hub for other legacy FireBoard temp monitors and controllers displaying their readings. For commercial kitchens and food service operations, it includes an NFC scanner that can scan an RFID chip and then catalogue that assigned food temps making it ideal for keeping records of safe food temps of each tray in a buffet or steam table.
FireBoard CEO Ted Conrad said his company loves building hardware and electronics but believes the perfect marriage of hardware and software provides the best customer experience.
“To be able to marry the software with hardware is where our products really shine,” said Conrad. “We really wanted to make the user experience super simple and so far, people love the mobile app. They love the hardware, but they really love the software too.”
Conrad’s strategy appears to be working. From Jan 2017 through Dec 2020, FireBoard has seen the following, consistent, year-over-year growth:
- 4.5x increase in annual revenue
- 5x increase in monthly active users
- 19x increase in monthly user sessions
While creating a great user experience is helping fuel FireBoard’s growth, Conrad also believes the pandemic is giving consumers a chance to fall back in love with cooking at home, while spending time online buying new products to help them even further.
“I think that’s a lot of what FireBoard embodies because you can visualize your cook which helps you be a better cook,” said Conrad. “And that’s part of the experience; people don’t realize until they see that beautiful chart, what’s going on with their food temperature over time. That’s why we see The Spark as an essential tool in the cabinet, just like every other tool is in the kitchen.”
But if you think The Spark is just for home cooking enthusiasts, think again. Conrad is also starting to see interest heat up in the commercial space as they receive more inquires from restaurants and food providers about how they can monitor and maintain safe refrigeration levels for certain foods, for example.
And while FireBoard hasn’t officially pursued the commercial space as a sales pipeline, Conrad acknowledges they are getting closer and will have a presence at the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago next year.
“We have a pretty aggressive product pipeline across the consumer and commercial space,” said Conrad. “And our cloud infrastructure is very scalable so we’re hoping to build upon our momentum over the next couple years.”