While for some, the American Dream–the ability to decide what you want out of life, envision it, plan it, then pursue it–may remain just a dream, for husband and wife, Katie and Devin Dorosh, that dream turned into a reality when they started a company specializing in products for the outdoor barbecue. It’s called Grillaholics.
“I had always had a desire to become an entrepreneur and tried to be a DJ in high school, then tried a multi-level marketing gumball machine business in college, but none of that was the right fit,” said Devin. “I studied finance and accounting in school and knew the traditional workforce was not for me. I wasn’t excited about college, either, so I started as a CPA, then consulting, all the while trying to pursue other things.”
Then, in April 2014, Devin learned of an online course that gave instructions on how to build a brand utilizing Amazon while working in the corporate workforce. That opened up a new world for Devin.
“Basically, the model was to find a top-selling product on Amazon, create your own vision of that product, build your brand, and go from there,” he said. “At the time, we were evaluating many options that were top sellers on Amazon – including a non-stick grill mat.”
Having always been an avid griller, Devin decided that would be a great first product and he and Katie ran with it. “It all started right there,” he said. “We went live with that in October of 2014 while on our honeymoon. We sent the inventory to Amazon and hit ‘go’ from there.”
Devin and Katie both still had day jobs at that time, so they leased space at OPO Startups (in the St. Charles Old Post Office on Main Street).
“We felt like we needed to be out of the house to get work done. We started out at Starbucks but they closed at 10 p.m. and I wasn’t done working,” said Devin. “So we started working at the OPO where we could come and go as we needed. It’s available 24 hours a day with certain membership levels.”
Nearly four years later, both Devin and Katie have left their day jobs. “Now, we basically have a desk and a remote setup at the OPO – but everyone works from home. Occasionally, we will meet at the OPO to maintain a team connection.”
Devin acknowledges the numerous benefits of utilizing what the OPO has to offer. It can be much more that just a place to go when you need a desk and Starbucks is closed.
“Working there – in a coworking space – is a good way to connect with other people that are trying to do what you are doing. There’s an entire startup scene,” he said. “There are lots of people working there every day trying to build a business. It’s great for camaraderie and morale to have people around to support each other. And obviously having a dedicated working space to focus helps, too.”
As the only two owners of Grillaholics, Devin and Katie are continuing to grow the Grillaholics product mix and are up to 14 different products and some bundles. “Those are our core products, but we are in the process of developing at least 12 more this year,” said Devin. “One of our big projects is trying to dominate the online space for grill brushes, so our goal is to try and offer any and every sort of grill cleaning product a person could want.”
Included in their business growth plan is connecting with a larger manufacturer in order to get what is being created at Grillaholics into the marketplace. “Those manufacturers view it as a strategic relationship. They want to prove concepts, move items into retail and get branded,” said Devin. “The goal is to show that a product can do well – on Amazon for instance – and then ask retailers ‘do you want something like this?’ ”
For now, Grillaholics products are being sold only via private labels. “We are working on some things that others do not have – we are after unique designs with this manufacturer, “ said Devin. “You have to be willing to try different things. With social media and the internet in this day and age, there is a wealth of opportunity to create something and build your own business.”
And that’s exactly what Devin and Katie Dorosh have done. After starting out at OPO Startups, the Dorsh’s have seemingly gained enough traction to stick around a while (after starting out by selling non-stick grill mats… pun intended). But that didn’t happen without paying their dues.
“We would not have started this one without trying the other things I attempted – not everything will necessarily be the right thing. You have to be willing to try and fail and get to the point where you find the right fit,” said Devin. “A lot of people have taken the same course we did. What separates the people that succeed on Amazon from those who don’t is having a ‘whatever it takes’ attitude,” said Devin.
Devin emphasizes just how important it was to him to make Grillaholics work. “For me, this was the opportunity to have the freedom to do the job that I wanted. Once you find the thing that seems like a good fit, you have to be willing to go through the challenges that come when you’re doing it. Too many people quit when small roadblocks come up, when just on the other side of that roadblock things were going to start moving for you.”
A good indicator that things are indeed “moving” for Grillaholics – or for any company – is to have your products featured on the Rachael Ray Show. When Chris Kimball, the past host of America’s Test Kitchen, went on her show to demonstrate products – and reached out to Grillaholics – Devin knew that was a great opportunity. “He was doing his favorite barbecue products and they reached out to us because they liked our branding and how we connect with our customers,” he said. “They wanted to feature our grill mat and asked us to send in gifts for the audience. It aired in July 2016, and was really great exposure. We talk about it as much as we can!”
For more information on Grillaholics or to view their product line, visit Grillaholics.com.