“Outdoor business owner needed,” reads the ad Joe Baughman posted at OutdoorIndustryJobs.com last Tuesday. The Utah tech developer is selling his camp-kitchen company, Grub Hub, for the tidy sum of $100,000.
Baughman came up with an idea for a portable kitchen during a family camping trip in 2004, and he spent the next eight years patenting, prototyping, and manufacturing his creation, called the Mesa 1. Finally, in 2012, with the patents squared away and manufacturing secured, Baughman shipped the first production run to customers right from his home.
Grub Hub’s flagship product, the Mesa 1 is a 45-pound kit that folds out of a rollable case about the size of a carry-on. Inside is gourmet central: nine square feet of table space, a platform for a double-burner stove, a collapsible sink, a mesh drying bag, multiple accessory racks, posts for hanging lanterns and water bags, and 4,200 cubic inches of storage space. There are also stakes to help stabilize everything in heavy winds.
The Mesa 1 isn’t the only product of its kind on the market. Coleman, GCI, Kelty, and others make similar portable kitchen setups. But despite Grub Hub’s humble roots and minuscule marketing budget—Baughman says he spent about $2,000 on advertising in 2017—the product developed an avid following. In the past six years, he’s sold 1,400 units and generated buzz among camping and overlanding enthusiasts.
But running the Grub Hub isn’t his full time job—Baughman’s been doing it on the side while working in business development at IBM. “I have done less and less over the past three years—not posting to social media, not advertising, not going to trade events, and otherwise not building the business,” he says. “It has languished.” Now on the verge of retirement, Baughman wants to hand off his brain child to someone with the time and energy to make it successful.
Just two days after he posted the ad, Baughman says he has received six inquiries, some from people interested in buying the business outright, others from potential partners. “I would love to see someone who’s enthusiastic and savvy about online marketing hit a home run with the product and make a good living doing it,” he says.
We’ve all fantasized about launching a gear company, but startup costs are often prohibitive, which is why many new business owners turn to crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter to raise capital. Grub Hub’s buyer will get the patents and existing Mesa 1 inventory, as well as designs for two unreleased products. The rest of us can keep dreaming.