How We Hit Our Goal Within 24 Hours On Kickstarter And Raised $30K+ Worth of Preorders

Published: December 13th, 2022
Andrew Buehler
Founder, Urban Smokehouse
Urban Smokehouse
from New York, NY, USA
started September 2022
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Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hello, my name is Andrew Buehler, and I am the founder of Urban Smokehouse, the world’s first digitally native BBQ brand.

Great-tasting BBQ is often described as being prepared “low and slow,” aka over several hours and in a smoker. Most people don’t have hours to cook or smokers to make food, so we’ve made a product that takes the hassle out of great barbecue.

Our product is prepared the right way, “low and slow,” then immediately vacuum sealed, put on ice, and shipped to customers nationwide. Our process preserves the quality, flavor, and “fall off the bone” texture of great barbecue while enabling customers to make BBQ at home in under 20 minutes in the oven, grill, air fryer, or heating device of their choice!

I launched Urban Smokehouse with one product, pre-cooked and sauced pork baby back ribs, and plan on adding additional SKUs as critical mass is hit within each.

We will likely add brisket, pulled pork, and pulled chicken soon, followed by accompanying and iconic side dishes. Lastly, our ribs are currently prepared in a traditional sweet-tasting BBQ sauce. We will add different flavor options spanning the spectrums of sweetness, spiciness, and savoriness as time passes for each of our proteins.


Urban Smokehouse was a Summer 2022 Kickstarter project with a 30-day goal of raising $25,000.

We hit that goal within 24 hours of going live on Kickstarter and raised over $30,000 worth of pre-orders from 150+ unique individuals.

Post Kickstarter, the business went live in early September, and we have done a little over $5,000 each month in sales split between our website and in-person pop-ups and events.

To date, we have spent zero dollars on marketing. I am now exploring digital marketing strategies to drive traffic to our website and events. I expect a significant uptick in traffic from the word of mouth and organic social media we have relied on thus far.

What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I ultimately held a campaign on Kickstarter, which was a smash hit. We set a 30-day goal of raising $25,000 and surpassed our goal within 24 hours of going live.

Urban Smokehouse was a COVID idea brought to life shortly after returning to the office and getting the mental nudge needed to pursue my passions more directly.

The rising tide of eCommerce has been a steady and robust wave for 20+ years, but a COVID lockdown significantly accelerated adoption in a handful of categories.

As a person who lives in an NYC apartment, it is very apparent on any given day how many packages the building has received via a glance at the lobby.

5-6 years ago, all of the packages my building received were tucked away nicely in a backroom closet, excluding maybe the December holiday season, when there would be a noticeable overflow into the lobby, and the mailroom closet was stuffed to the brim.

Within a few weeks of the COVID-19 lockdown, I noticed an explosion of packages in my building’s lobby.

Apart from the typical assortment of Amazon boxes and various meal kit/replacement subscription programs, I noticed a substantial uptick in delivered groceries.

Groceries have been available online for many years. Still, COVID created a climate where people who haven’t leaped online delivery were more inclined to try delivery services versus going to the store themselves.

People don’t get groceries delivered because they often like to hand-select their produce and proteins.

I believe this temporarily forced adoption of delivered groceries online caused a significant uptick in the consumer’s comfort in getting proteins and produce delivered online and a broader market shift for people to explore products and consider purchasing more items online versus in person every week.

With a growing market trend and opportunity identified, I, like many folks during COVID, spent more time home alone and, thus, more time reflecting.

Food has been a centerpiece of my life and attention for as long as I can remember. My father is a contract manufacturer of various products for groceries stores and brands that ultimately sell in retail or restaurants.

My mother was an avid cook my entire life. She was an active subscriber of Bon Appetite magazine and had a cookbook collection that would rival Martha Stewart’s.

To say the food was a topic of conversation or something they each spent hours on each day is an understatement, and it turns out the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

In high school, I was the President of the Grilling Society. A group of kids who spent their afternoons and weekends grilling everything under the sun was likely the first identifiable moment of my passion for open-fire cooking.

In college, I founded and led “The Fat Cats,” the nation’s second collegiate competitive eating club in the country. We hosted an annual pig roast for the school and frequently traveled the Northeast, competing in restaurant food challenges to win a T-shirt and photo on the wall.

I’ll admit, this club was inspired mainly by Adam Richman’s TV program “Man Vs. Food.” After graduating college, I moved to NYC and began a career in financial services.

One of the greatest draws of NYC to me was the number of great restaurants the city is home to and the level of depth and variety of cuisine available here. Simply put, a foodie’s heaven.

Despite my love for investing, meeting management teams, and assessing growth strategies, my free time always focused significantly on food. When I returned to the office post-COVID, I had had enough!

I wanted to build something of my own. I had identified a growing market in eCommerce for perishables during COVID, have always been a foodie, and believed my decade of experience investing in and supporting small businesses’ growth had given me the experience to attempt something of my own! Opportunity, passion, and ability had finally been in alignment!

The business has been profitable since day one, and we designed it with that in mind.

After deciding, I was ready to take the leap of faith into entrepreneurship. It was time to refine the business model and strategy. Apart from wanting to sell food online and seeing a rising demand from consumers to buy it, I needed to identify a strong value proposition.

“What food tastes great but is annoying to make?” was the big question. It turns out barbecue was the answer! Barbecue often is described as “low and slow” which is the definition of inconvenience.

Most people want to make food in under 30 minutes! Not over 3-5+ hours! At this juncture, it was decided BBQ was the answer, and Urban Smokehouse was born!

Take us through designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

Three critical things needed to be designed and figured out when building this business: a product that tastes great, a system for delivery/fulfillment that will make customers happy and not break the bank, and a collection of creative assets: logo, product packaging, eCommerce website, etc. that will really wow people!

The standard strategy we took for all these is to select partners who have been in the industry for many years and worked with more prominent people than us. This meant identifying people the market had proven to be quality and likely parties we can grow with as we get bigger over time.

For the product and production piece, I leaned on my father’s experience in the industry and began meeting with him and his peers to see who could make what I wanted.

Designing the product took several months spanning March 2022 - July 2022. Initially, I had to meet with several contract manufacturers in the food space. People who can cook large quantities of food at the same time. Think of ovens the size of small rooms, water boilers that can boil thousands of gallons at a time, etc.

We ultimately partnered with someone who had experience making products like ours for 30+ years and had many customers much more significant than us (quality and scalability proven).

After identifying our production partner, we finalized our barbecue sauce and sampled ribs with them every week for several months. We always had them ship the ribs to us vacuum sealed to ensure we were testing in the environment our customers would ultimately be receiving and enjoying themselves.

After settling on a final version of our product, it was time to figure out how we would get this to people promptly and cost-effectively.

I met with several specialized eCommerce fulfillment centers during the spring of 2022 that catered to businesses with perishable products that required refrigeration.

We needed a partner with large cold storage facilities and a system to pick and pack individual customer orders. We looked at the industry landscape of who was shipping a ton of food well (i.e., Goldbelly, Omaha Steaks, Butcher Box, etc.) and the partners they were working with.

Again we could identify a partner who had decades of experience working with businesses much more prominent than us. This ultimately gave us confidence when we selected our cold storage and fulfillment partner and comforted us with our product and our ability to deliver and serve it.


On the creative/digital assets side, I worked with someone from Fiverr to create my logo. Once I had an image I loved, I reached out to a friend of mine who does a lot of web design and digital marketing for SMBs, and we began constructing both product packaging as well as a website that incorporated the logo and colors I had identified with my designer from Fiverr.

The goal was to have a stellar logo, packaging, and a simple yet functional website. I view the website as a “forever project,” which I will constantly tweak as time passes. On day one, it needs to be simple and friendly. As time passes, I will improve it.

Throughout all of this “pre-launch” work, I wanted to be as cost-conscious as possible and build something that worked to prove the market/concept, knowing I would improve on all of these things as time passed.

I leveraged my network and super cheap resources like Fiverr to get something to market fast and affordable. For technical matters like incorporating and trademarking, I used Legal Zoom.

Describe the process of launching the business.

Given my business is selling a perishable product that I make at scale, I knew I needed to launch the business with critical mass.

I couldn’t make many products and sell them once I had them. The sales could be slow, and I would have inventory going bad as time passes.

I debated the best way to collect pre-orders and decided on a crowdfunding campaign. Crowdfunding campaigns are often tools to manage money now with the promise of delivering a good later, and thus I viewed it as an excellent way to collect pre-orders essentially.

I ultimately held a campaign on Kickstarter, which was a smash hit. We set a 30-day goal of raising $25,000 and surpassed our goal within 24 hours of going live.

Before launching the Kickstarter, I reached out to people who had held successful campaigns before and asked them for tips and tricks for my campaign. They all mentioned that if I could hit my goal fast (in a day) and with a diverse set of backers (over 100 unique backers), it would significantly increase my chances of being a project featured on the homepage or one of the subpages for varying categories.

With that knowledge in mind, I made it my absolute goal to smash this.


I created a splash page and collected emails for about a month. I emphasized with my network and my network’s network that if you were going to support the project, it meant exponentially more to me if you did it the very first day. I spammed social media and asked my friends and family to spam their social media. If there is one time to be annoying, it’s when you launch a business!!

At this point, I had invested a few $1000 of saving and credit cards on graphic design, website creation, incorporation of the business, and lastly, partnering with a local film student to make my Kickstarter video. The Kickstarter was hugely helpful because it allowed me to delay the cost of investing in inventory until I had capital from orders I had already sold via Kickstarter!

Once Kickstarter ended, I made some inventory and immediately shipped the product. It was great because I didn’t have to invest in inventory until it was already sold (at a profit) and my Kickstarter backers were shocked because I delivered the product a few weeks after the campaign ended. Most crowdfunding campaigns take months to get your rewards, so it felt like a win/win for everyone!

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

After the Kickstarter campaign ended, I now had a steady state business to grow. My strategy has been threefold: in-person pop-up events, digital marketing, and small business partnerships.

Food is a category where you must get as many people as possible to try the product. I address this via in-person pop-ups. I approached several bars in NYC that don’t have kitchens and only serve things like chips and popcorn. I asked them if I could set up a grill outside and sell BBQ to their customers and most have said yes!

It’s a win-win because having food allows people to stay at their bars for longer (they don’t leave if they get hungry), and it gives me a customer base where I am their only option if they are hungry. The popups have been a smashing success for us thus far and the primary source of our revenue, post Kickstarter.

The popups are great but only cater to a local customer base. My website ships nationwide, and I need to grow its following, traffic, and orders in all 50 states! That's where digital marketing comes in. After having success with the popups, I began working with a small digital marketing agency. I post onTikTokand Instagram daily, but I have worked with them to make better content, target ads to specific demographics, and continue to learn the ins and outs of new platforms and medians to reach customers digitally.

Only spend a little once you have proven a concept, don't chase 10 strategies or markets at once, do one, win at it and then move to the next.

Apart from popups and digital marketing. The most proactive thing I can do daily is trying to sell my products to small businesses (restaurants and retailers).

Most hospitality venues don’t offer ribs because most individuals don’t make them. It takes too long! I have begun and will continue to grow a book of business of businesses that want to sell my products as well.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

The business has been profitable since day one, and we designed it with that in mind.

As a bootstrapped company, you must make money, or you will be bleeding out for a long time. We have taken an approach where we want to reinvest all of the D2C profits into marketing to grow that customer base and view the B2B profits as the money we can bank and pay ourselves from.

The most challenging thing about our business is shipping a heavy, perishable item at an expedited rate. Shipping is easily our most significant expense, and we are looking into ways to optimize it.

A wise man once said, “sales solve all problems” and “you can only cut costs once, you can grow forever.” Our focus is profitable growth first, then profit optimization later.

We just turned on digital marketing the week before Thanksgiving, so it’s too early to tell what our customer acquisition cost looks like. We are spending $1,000/month on meta (Facebook and Instagram) ads and will iterate on what works and doesn’t work there.

B2B sales is a proactive outreach-focused program led by me. Cold emails/calls, knocking on doors, and asking for warm intros.

Our short-term goals are to get digital marketing CAC below $15, build a book of 50+ business customers in greater NYC, and launch our second product (brickset), all within the next quarter.

Our long-term goals are to be the D2C BBQ provider of choice online ($100M+/year), have business customers nationwide, and have a deep product portfolio spanning proteins, positive sides, sauces/rubs, grilling accessories, varied flavors for all of them.

I see this as a multi $100M opportunity in B2B and B2C markets.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

You have to walk before you can run. We very consciously launched this business with one product/SKU. We have dozens of other products ready to go but won’t launch them until our first product hits “critical mass.”

The biggest key learning I have learned and applied to my business is: “it is always better to do 1-2 things well than a bunch of things mediocrely.”

Only spend a little once you have proven a concept, don't chase 10 strategies or markets at once, do one, win at it and then move to the next.

I think many people spend too much and attempt to chase too many varying things early. Don’t spend on all forms of marketing, spend on one, master it, then add another. The same goes for products, hiring, software, and tools, you name it.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

Books: Zero to One by Peter Thiel
What makes a great business and what makes a great leader.

Podcast: How I Built This with Guy Raz

Learn how varying successful entrepreneurs did it!

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

  1. There is no such thing as “the right time to start a business.” Stop selling yourself on excuses and delays, and dive in!

  2. Don’t overleverage yourself or spend too much in the beginning. Prove the concept can work, and that the market wants it before going big.

  3. Nobody accomplishes anything truly on their own. Leverage your network and your network’s network as much as you can. Ask people for advice and help. Lean on people you know that know more than you about the XYZ skill you need.

Being an entrepreneur means you are marketing, sales, finance, operations, quality control, creative, customer service, etc (everything) at once! It’s okay to know only a few of those things first. Lean on others and learn quickly from them.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

We actively seek to hire digital marketers/creatives, and B2B sales professionals focused on bars, restaurants, and venues in greater NYC.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!