Smart Grilling: How Tech Helps Cook a Better Brisket

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

People have been cooking meat over a fire for millions of years. But until recently, they haven’t had the benefit of using grills infused with smart capabilities. 

And that’s a crying shame.

Jason Baker, Business Development at Green Mountain Grills, explains how the smart pellet grill works and the process that went into creating it.

We discuss:

- How the technology works

- Three ways it makes grilling easier

- Developing tech with a non-technical background

- Lessons learned throughout the process

Follow @Green Mountain Grills on TikTok. 

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They really started to get a feelfor hey, this is, this is the real deal, like this actuallyhelps me cook better, it helps me not ruin really expensive cuts of meat. You are listening to over the Air Iot connected devices and the journey,brought to you by vary. In each episode we have sharp, unfiltered conversationswith executives about their IOT journeys, the mistakes they made, the lessons theylearned and what they wish they'd known when they started. Welcome back to overthe air, IOT connected devices and the journey. My name is Ryan Prosser, CEO very, and today we're joined by Jason Baker of Green Mountain grills. Today we're going to be talking about infusing technology into a product that historicallyhas had none, in this case barbecue grills. Jason, thanks for beingon the show. Thanks for having me so all right, let's let's startwith the big one, the the contentious one. So gross people have beencooking meat over fires for Millennia with zero technology. Here comes Green Mountain grillsand they're saying, Hey, we've got a great idea, let's let's infusesome tech, some some connected capabilities into this. Let's start with with thatwhat was what was the thinking? What was what's the science in play here? That that led you guys to believe, Hey, there's a real opportunity todo something big here. Yeah, so I have to go back totwo thousand and ten to start that thinking process, because it really started aboutthen when we put an RF controller on a barbecue grill. So we putthis controller that was just like a radio controller to talk to the grill andyou had maybe fifty, seventy five feet Max, right, so you're you'reutilizing this device to raise and lower temperature, see the temperature, internal temperature,meet robe. So it started.

They're just a very simple kind oflet's see how this goes right, because our whole thought process was you've gotthe folks in South Dakota when it's ten out there, they don't want togo outside. Maybe it's going to be cool for them to just have aremote control take a look and see what's going on inside the grill without havingto go out there, or in Phoenix, when it's about twenty, being ableto just utilize this URF type remote. So that's where it all started andwe got a lot of people hating on US early. People say whywould you do that? So goofy, you know, blah, blah,blah. So that was the first kind of easy tech that we started todo and then two thousand and eleven we started going, let's how do wedo this? How do we create more technology into this? How do wehow do we actually get more distant? So then we started to talk aboutWi fi and connecting the grill through an APP and a server. Right.So all those discussions started off early, late, late, two thousand andeleven, two thousand and twelve. came out with our first product in twothousand and thirteen and kind of introduce this in phases. And it was sofunny early on, because they are all these forums and I would set onthose forums and take everything very personally. People are like, look at GMG, they're putting a Wi fi on a public drill. Like, why areyou doing that? It's so goofy, it's they would call you all kindsof names and we just kept it up. We just kept going and because werealize that meat changes through temperature and time and if you really understand that, there's a way to replicate this to where you nail your brist gets specificallybriskets very easily, right. I mean even tried tips or or pork shoulders, and making certain that you're going through that stall at a higher temperature reallyhelps. It just it just does. It helps that meat evaporate quicker.That's really what taking place. You have this kind of evaporate of cooling,that's this taking place and it's sweating, the meat sweating through that process.So when you can tell somebody, okay, I have a product here where youcan take a let's say a fifteen...

...pound brisket and go at one hundredand fifty four couple hours, really hit it with some heart smoke, thencrank it up to two hundred and twenty five until you hit the stall atone fifty, let's say, and then crank it up again to two hundredand seventy five. All of that in a technology piece, right, justa profile step that you're just taking from the from the actual APP and sendit to the grill and the grills just running through it all day and know, by the way, they tell me when it reaches two hundred and twoand then cool it down. Right, all of that is technology that helpsyou cook a better brisket. So, once I think people started buying theseand started playing with them, you know, two thousand and thirteen, two thousandand fourteen, they really started to get a feel for hey, thisis this is the real deal. Like this actually helps me cook better.It helps me not ruin really expensive cuts of meat. Yeah, so,you know, I'm raised in Texas and competition briskets smoking is very near anddear to my heart. But let's assume for a moment that some portion ofour audience is hearing the terms stall for the first time. UNPACK, unpacked, the stall. So you know, for folks out there at TV land, this is just like any other hurdle to be solved. Product is aimedat hey, let's let's address this key issue. The stall has caused morehair to fall out of more heads of more pit masters. I think they'dprobably any other hurdle. What is the stall and how did you guys thinkabout this and work about solving it? Well, so, so, thebriskets are basically right here in the four leg of the cow, between thechest and that for leg, and so basically, you know, there's alot of interconnected muscle. They're right, a lot of interconnected a tissue andwhat has to happen as you have to break that down in order for itto work its way out of there and really get that meat to really startto separate and and moisten up, if...

...you will. Watching as I didearly on in this in this business. I focused on guys like Harry Sueand moqus on and Sterling Smith and all these guys that were big in theearly stages of this even Myron and Hank Baden. These guys are big inthe barbecue world. Watching those guys take that temperature up through the stall,and that stall is usually hitting. Look, if you're cooking at two hundred andtwenty five, you're going to eventually get there. It's going to stopat one hundred and fifty and kick it there for hours sometimes before it getsto cranking up to where you want it to get to that two hundred internalbut you can actually do this faster through a couple different ways. You cando what's called the Texas Crutch right your utilizing foil or butcher paper both.Some people, everybody has an idea. I never say there's one way orthe other. Everybody has their feelings and I don't ever want to get intothat. But you do that at the stall portion and sometimes folks even crankedup the temperature to get that stall move through quicker so you can get intothe the real cooking of that meat, so it can it can break downand tender eyes. And that's that's the the that's the stall. That's whatit is. You're working through that stall. And so you guys, your thesiswas, Hey, if we can build a product that allows people,they're smoking brisket, the cooking barbecue, to produce a superior would you sayit was important? was more important to produce a better outcome or to producethe same outcome more easily or, you know, both at the same time? was there a something you guys were particularly optimized for? Yeah, forus it was real simple. Again, being around all these barbecue competitors andwatching these guys in the field, we just thought about how do we makethis easy for the everyday backyard cooker? Right, how do we make thiseasy so the person's not intimidated by this big chunk of meat and they're not, like you said, having all sorts of issues around being concerned about howthey're going to deliver this, when you...

...can add technology to this process.You're going to have great product. I'm not going to say you have betterproduct. It's going to be equal, right, and you're not going tofail at this because the technology is really going to help you through it,and that's what it does. That's what people learn, is that the technologyhelps you through it. Yet that that's been my observation is that by demistifyingthis process, you're making brisket a lot easier to approach for first timers,you know, because you've got even guys like Aaron Franklin, you know,kind of considered like the Jesus of Brisket, and you know he saying, Hey, my first brisket was terrible. You know, everybody's first brisket isterrible. Green Mountains. Thesis is, Hey, your first brisket doesn't haveto be terrible, you just need to have a good partner in crime.What specifically, from a technology standpoint, did you guys introduce that has madeit easier? What are the things that you're helping to insert into the processthat we're one is quite difficult to now. You said, Hey, look,it doesn't have to be so difficult if we infuse this technology into theprocess. Well, there are three things. So first it's the actual temperature control. So having the ability to really control temperature. A lot of thefolks early on would do these feedogram of pellets and that's going to hit acertain temperature and what that does is those are those are our kid calculations totemperature control. If you're programming a control panel to with the firmware to justdo this, you're not taking into account outside temperature, right. So you'redoing this based on the fact that at seventy degrees we're going to push thisamount of pellets in there and it's going to hit this temperature and when itdrops this much you're going to do more. Will all of that goes out thewindow when you're extremely cold or extremely hot, right. So the firstthing we did was we thought about that. We said we need to make calculationsbased on ambient air. So we put an Ambien are sensor on thereearly on. The Ambient Air Sensor gave us light into to programming the calculusdriven algorithms that are in there, which...

...are all pid algorithms. That justbasically it's the same thing as a crus control on a car. Right,you put it seventy and you're going up a hill. It knows it needsto accelerate right. So, and those calculations can be off from car tocar right you can. You can feel that work different in a Chevy maybe, versus a Honda. It just it acts a little bit different. It'sthe same thing in the pellet barbecue business. We saw companies that were struggling withthis, and so you'd have these massive fluctuations, right, fifty,seventy five degree fluctuations, but you wouldn't know it because your dial just says, you know, one hundred and fifty, one hundred and seventy five, twohundred right. So if you if that's all you see, it's ifthat's all you see on your dial, you've got a big span of temperaturevariance and so that was our first thing. How do we solve that and bean are are sensor helped us do that. We also, inside theAPP, put a whole climate slider. So we would tell the customer,hey, based on where you are, here's a very icy climate center climatesetting, here's a very hot climate setting and there are a few in themiddle. Based on temperature, you can dial it in based on where you'reat humidity. All of this plays a role in how your grill is goingto react. So again it's technology and then, on top of that,it's the meat probe right, getting focused on the internal temperature of your ofyour food. So being able to see what your meat probes are doing fromthe APP is a big deal. But if those if those meat probes areoff, you need to be able to calculate them. So we went inthere and said, okay, we need to be able to give the customerthe ability to say, okay, I've had this and we heard it right. The customer says, I've had this meat probe since one thousand nine hundredand sixty two and it's dead on. I know it's dead on, okay, and yours is for degrees off. Okay, perfect. Well, goahead and that out. Plus that out. So giving that again, utilizing technology, super simple to change in the APP and giving the the customer theability to to hone in on that meat...

...probe that they trusted. That wastoo and then the final thing is just the profile steps, having a sectionwhere you can go in there and and write, Hey, Ryan's brisket andthis is what we do. We do one fifty for two hours and thenwhen it hits an internal temperature of x, and we're going to do this,and then when it gets the stall, we're going to go, you know, up to to twenty five, to fifty, and then we're goingto crank this thing up even more and tell me, alert me when it'sdone. Or you can put notes in there and say, Hey, youneed to be split seeing every thirty minutes here in this stage, all ofthat so that you can write all that down in the APP, hold thatprofile forever and repeat it every time. Right. That is what it's allabout. All of those things give that backyard consumer the ability to not beintimidated by this cook you mentioned. I think you call them maysayers, youknow, but the there's always folks that are especially in a space that drivesas much passions barbecue, you know, such a personal thing. You mentionedthat there was a lot of folks with big opinions, many of them notpositive, talk about product development in an environment. You know, maybe somefolks out there are are in a space where the consumers are quite opinionated andnot always right. You know, this idea of the customers always right,I think, is being very like rethought. In our generation. I maybe customersactually frequently wrong. What did it look like to develop a product whereyou had to kind of develop in the face of the people that you wantto sell to? A lot of times are the biggest needs ayers and you'regoing to have to win them over. You're going to have to not listento them, because you guys have an inkling that maybe you know better andthat if you you know, if your vision is realized, they're going tobe impressed. They just don't realize it now. How do you develop productin that world? We hear so many other companies talk about interviews and gettingclose to the consumer. It feels like almost there's a countercurrent of that.At Green Mountaine, you guys needed to...

...prove the consumer wrong. Is theresomething to that? There's something to that, but I would say that it whenit started off with that remote control, just as many they sayers as thereas there were. There were just as many people going well done,you know, giving you that that applause and saying we like this. Howwhat if you did? How could you do more right, almost almost kindof pushing us to get to that next step of how can you do more? How can you give us more technology? So I think, even though theywere the smaller pieces that hustle. You have the people who are deadset on the offsets there, they're dead set on charcoal, their dead seton whatever their way of cooking is. You have to tune that out.Just have to, because you know, there's so many of us right thatwe're just early on going this is so much fun like this makes it easy. We're spending more time talking to family, talking to friends, then then messingaround with all the different steps that you have to do on one ofthese offset cookers or or some other cooker. So when you start to fall inlove with it yourself, you have to believe it. You have tojust believe that. You need to force yourself to do it more, andI really believe that's it's the essence of Steve Jobs. mentioned him earlier.Jobs was one of those guys that he knew what you needed in your liferight. He knew that you needed something more in your life to make communicationdifferent, maybe not easier, but different, and I think that we tried tothink about that in the same way that we wanted to make cooking morefun and and and easier process, utilizing technology without the naysayers, just justforging forward. I can't say it any simpler than that. You just youjust go ahead, you just move forward. So all right, you mentioned SteveJobs, one of the great called nontechnical founders and innovators of all time. Let's talk about, you know, one of the other great founders innovatorsof all time, Jason Baker. All right, so our guest today,you know we were one of the reasons...

I was really excited to have youon the show. Number One, I love barbecue. That is a likenear dear to my heart passion. Live in Montana, and God bless Montana, but this is a barbecue desert. There is no the barbecue culture hereis not viber but your background stood out to us as we're researching guests,because your educational background is you've got a degree political science. Does Not Screamthis guy is, you know, going to be a fantastic technical innovator.And yet in our pre interviews and some of the conversations we've had time andagain, you know, you've demonstrated a really deep, granular understanding of whatyou guys are trying to achieve, how best to achieve it technically. Ifyou were to give guidance to a friend or someone out in the audience thatsaying Hey, look, I'm interested in tech, I want to take this, my company, in a tech driven direction, but I don't have thatbackground. I'm not an engineer. You know I'm not a tech what guidancewould you would you share, like, how have you gotten to this place? You know, cut starting from. You know there's no technical background gettingthis place. What can you share about your journey? What lessons could youshare with that person out there saying, Hey, this is interesting to me, this is what I want for myself. How do I do it? Ithink it's if you have a dream in your mind and and you havea dream where you say this is what I want, and if you're atall afraid of how to get there, don't be just seek out the rightpeople. That's the key to everything. Seek out the right people to bearound and force yourself to learn right, learn the terminology, understand what they'redoing, have them dumb it down for you sometimes. Right. I meanthat's that's really the key to all of this. When I go back tothe time spent with with between hardware and software on this, going back andforth. It was. It was a constant battle of I've got to figurethis out, I've got to understand it well enough to where I can immersemyself in here and get at the result that I want. It all comesdown to the dream, I think, when you when you really have thatdream in your mind of what it is...

...your what you want out of yourproduct, what you want your consumer to be able to play with, youhave to just go in hard and learn this stuff. It's that simple,it really is. You don't need to agree on this, you just needto get in the heads of some of these some of these guys who areobviously a lot smarter than you, and that's the key, finding the rightpeople that can help you carry out your vision, and that's that's where itall it all starts. I mean I think back to I was on myway to law school and a buddy of mine called me up and said,Hey, what do you think about taking over this bar and at Arizona StateUniversity, and I said that sounds like a phenomenal idea. Right. Idon't think everybody else was that thrilled about in my family, but at thetime I wasn't ready. I wasn't prepared mentally to go to school for notthree years. Well, at that moment I looked at that from the standpointof how do we make this easier? We started doing things from a technologystandpoint with with POS and and utilizing text on screens and and utilizing ways inwhich we could we could blast out information to students around there. We starteddoing things early on that really took the bar industry that everybody does. Noweverybody does everything, but it was early on in kind of a a podunkbar where we started to learn that technology helped people in a lot of ways. So at that point, then moving on into solar. Solar was abig part of my journey as well. You started a solo a solar companyhere in Arizona and started integrating solar panels on rooftops. Well, you learnedreal quick that there's a lot of technology involved in this and when you putthem in schools, they are these interfaces where the the informations being gathered andput on these screens for these kids to learn. I love that stuff.So I just again. I would would get on the phone with these engineers. I'd learned everything I could so that when I was in a sales typeof situation, I could talk as as an engineer. That was important tome. Never saying that, I was just saying I understand how this works. Owned by the way, I can...

I know how to hook all thesethings up to there's not a lot to it. So it graduated into GreenMountain grills where there's just a massive comfort level around technology. So anybody thatyou just dream it's that simple. You just you dream it up. Ifit's in your mind, go go tackle that vision, just go do it. So said differently, if you feel, if you're kind of reflecting on yourself, if you have a passion for innovation and a passion for the underlyingsubject matter, those are the prerex that matter most, and that the playbookis identify your gaps and surround yourself with people that are strong in those areas. Is Out of there. You think summary of Jason's approach on these thingvery, very fair summary, and I would add to that make sure thatyou are a mediator and make sure you are focused, typer focused on gettingto your goal and knowing, understanding where those stoppages might occur, because hardwareand software two different worlds. What looking backwards now, your time a GreenMountain. Are there things you got you wish you had approach differently? Youknow, a lot of things have worked out well. I think you guysare really well positioned. I think there's a huge market for what you're doingthat I don't think there's any argument about that. Are there opportunities you feellike you guys missed or got to too late, and lessons you've learned throughthat process? Yeah, I think there are a lot of lessons you learned. You you learn that why business is a tough thing and you realize thatthere are a lot of pieces out there that that you need to focus lookif in hindsight, I'd tell people to surround themselves with very good attorneys thatcan help them navigate through anything you might face in the future and always justput it out there and just really make sure you have all your bases covered. I think that's the key to if I were to do anything different,it would be go back to those times...

...when we first started talking about allthis stuff and make sure you're protected and make sure that that you can holdthat technology and not let it go so easily, because that's that's something thatI don't know. For me. For me, I've always thought about ElonMusk and what he's done in that space. I love the fact that there's anopen source for all of this and that we're moving so quickly to theto the electric car world, and it is open source. Anybody can kindof grab whose technology they want and do what they want. And our businessis a little different. It's very driven on profits from other companies, andso patents are important and people are there's a lot of copying, there's alot of, you know, figuring out what what everybody else is doing,and I think that's if I were to go back in time, that's theone thing I would change. It's that we probably should have protected ourselves alittle bit better. Are you is this ore has like Chinese knockoffs? Isthis the type of threat? It's all over the place. Yeah, justjust everything. It's it's just having an attorney to to really it's hyper focusedon protecting your Ip enough to where it doesn't it doesn't enter into the intosomeone else's product. It's that simple. On everything. I mean it goesfrom your firmware to you know what you're doing. You're APP there are alot of things that you can you can patent that. We didn't know,we had no idea that. We were just blind to that world and Ithink that if we, if we were to go back in time, wewould do that differently. So let's let's transition awkwardly from you know, thelesson learned being protect your good ideas so they don't become other people's good ideas. What's next for Green Mountain? What are what are folks going to see, or can they expect to see as we roll into twenty two? Butare some things you guys are excited about? Then have to be secret sauce,but just a broad strokes were are some things you guys are excited aboutthat folks out there should know about? Yeah, Ryan, we're working onsomething that nobody ever has ever seen in...

...the barbecue world. We're working onsomething that I'm obviously not going to talk about clearly here, but I'm goingto tell you it's going to be something that people look at and they gothose guys did it again, they innovated again and they did something in away in which disrupted the market, disrupted barbecue. That's what we're always focusedon. It there are some things about pelle grills that we don't like andwe want to make them better, and so very cool that is, andthat, I think that is the greatness of not being too big of acompany or not being a publicly traded company. I think it's nice to be ableto talk amongst a group of people who all have the idea of wewant to make better products for the backyard griller and we want everybody to feelpart of our community, and this is a very strong, tight knit communitywho we will we will bend over backwards to take care of, and Ithink that doesn't happen in I don't know where those levels are in business,but I see it diminish as you get too big, and I think that'swhere we're lucky to still have that, that fire, that passion to createthings that people maybe not necessarily know that they need yet, but that's ourgoal. We we think they're going to need this and that's going to befun to put out there. So if somebody is listening to this, it'sOctober of two thousand and twenty one. When should they be on the lookoutfor this information? And I think probably cute. Two, I would takeq two of two thousand and twenty two. That's going to be about when we'regoing to start to really stepping up the marketing and showing people something they'venever seen a barbecue before. All Right, folks. So if you are lookingfor a grill for for summer twenty two, don't make your move untilyou've checked in with Green Mountain grills. Q Two. That's the that's whoyou want to be checking out. Jason, one of the things we were talkingabout in the pre interview is you know you're this iot space something youwatch closely. Obviously we're neck deep in...

...it as well. Who out therein in Iot land is doing good work, especially if it's in barbecue world thatyou guys are impressed with, that you think others you know could orshould know about? HMM, I don't think of anybody actually in the barbecuecommunity outside of ourselves. So have really done the crazy technology driven things,but you know, outside the barbecue community. So cool to see just a fulldisruption take place. You see all these IOT devices that are all connecteddevices for pets, right, automatic pet feeders and video cameras for pets.I look at that space and I'm blown away. By it. I thinkit's super cool to see a company like will patter. There a couple othernames they're escaping me, but they're doing a phenomenal job of you're being ableto communicate with your pet even though you're not there right and and I thinkthat's that's a cool space. It's a it's an entity that needed disruption andthat's fun to watch. Jason One of the products that I use. SoI'm a I'm one of these purest that you know. I'm not sure GreenMountain grill loves so much, but I've got a mill scale smoker at home. You know, these guys out of Lock Art Texas. I've been usingthe meter meat probe. It's APP connected probe. Do you have any experience? What are thoughts on these guys? They do a good job. Imean it's cool. There are a lot of products out there like it,so they're I'd see a lot of knockoffs of that product, but it's agreat idea. I don't know how well they work over time, time andtemperature for Bluetooth inside that piece. I'm always curious how that works. Butsame thing with I grill. I mean when I grill came out. Whata genius idea, right to be able to do that. That was reallythat was a neat thing to watch. For those that don't know, whatdid they do? Yeah, it's just monitoring, again, monitoring grill temperaturefrom anywhere, being able to stick a meat probe into a hunk of meat, and it didn't matter what your what kind of barbecue had. It couldbe a prope and grill, it could...

...be a charcoal grill and it's broadcastingthrough Wi fi and giving that information back to a server, giving it backto your phone and so being able to do that same thing with like aflame boss. All these guys were doing all this with all these independent controllers. Flame boss would go a step further, or a fireboard, those kinds ofdeals where you have seven probes, you know, multiple meat probes.That's because there are different and temperatures inside the meat. I thought that wasneat to see more and more probes figuring out the actual internal temperature. ButI grill did a great job innovating in that space and Webber pick them upand they're doing well with that. Interesting and last question. So you know, I said Barbecue, you know, brings the passion, I think,out of a lot of people. For for folks that have enjoyed the episodehere today, how can folks keep up with your story? You know where'sa good place? Is Linkedin or what do you want to point the peopleat? Yeah, we love I mean facebook. We give a lot ofinformation through facebook. We're pretty good on instagram as well. Green Mountain rills. Same thing with Tick Tock. We're starting to get more involved in socialmedia side of things, but the website, we really do keep up with that. Green Mountain Girlscom as well and I think we tried to give everybodya clue as to what's coming pretty consistently through the website as well. Greenmountain girls on Tick Tock, I love it. You know, almost ahundred percent of guests just say hey, follow me on linkedin. So Iknow you Audi man, Jason. I joyed it today. Thanks for thanksfor being on the show. Absolutely remember on your briskets as they as theyif they have more marbling, the key is is that you can go highertemperatures. Right. So if less marbling, choice grilled, choice type of product. That number is in that one and ninety six to one hundred andninety eight range, but as you have more marble edge, you get aprime and Wago, you can go up to that two thousand and five,two or six range. It really can have all right, folks, youheard it here. More marbling, word...

...temperature. That's it for today.My name is Ryan. Thanks for being on the show, Jason. Thankseverybody for listening. We'll see you guys on the Internet. Thank you,Ryan. You shouldn't have to worry about IOT projects dragging on or unreliable vendors. You've got enough on your plate. The right team of Engineers and projectmanagers can change a pivotal moment for your business into your competitive edge. Varies. Close Knit crew of ambitious problem solvers, continuous improvers and curious builders know howto turn your ideas into a reality on time and up to your standards, with a focus on mitigating risk in maximizing opportunity, will help you buildan Iot solution that you can hang your hat on. Let's bring your Iotidea to life. Learn more at very possiblecom you've been listening to over theAir Iot connected devices and the journey. If you enjoyed today's episode, makesure to hit subscribe in your favorite podcast player and give us a rating.Have a question or an idea for a future episode? Send it to podcastat very possiblecom see you next time.

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