$722K/Month – Creating and commercializing a product that prevents kitchen fires – Peter Thorpe of FireAvert
INTERVIEW VIDEO (Length – 0:38:39)
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Peter Thorpe, the founder of Fire Avert, shares how his experience as a firefighter inspired him to create a product that prevents kitchen fires. Peter shares his experiences commercializing the product to multi-family housing to make the biggest impact in preventing household fires. Peter also has plans to grow the Direct-to-Consumer D2C market.
Peter Thorpe, the founder of Fire Avert, shares how his experience as a firefighter inspired him to create a product that prevents kitchen fires. He developed Fire Avert, a device that cuts power to the stove when the smoke alarm goes off, after noticing that kitchen fires were a common occurrence caused by people forgetting to turn off their stoves. He emphasizes that kitchen fires are the leading cause of home fires, injuries, and property damage, and his product offers a unique solution to this problem. Fire Avert primarily sells to multi-family housing like apartment complexes, and the device’s data tracking capabilities allow them to measure the number of fires prevented and provide real-time notifications to homeowners. Thorpe discusses the challenges he faced as an entrepreneur and the importance of having the right partnerships and selling their vision to investors and employees. Fire Avert has plans to crack the e-commerce market and expand its reach to individual customers. They also cater to landlords, providing a safe living environment for tenants and avoiding property damages and associated costs. The company is constantly improving and innovating their product, offering new versions regularly. Thorpe shares his lessons as an entrepreneur, advising not to fear failure and to strive for progress instead of perfection. He recommends the book “Shoe Dog” for other entrepreneurs and highlights the importance of believing in oneself and finding what works best.
- 00:00:00 In this section, Peter Thorpe, founder of Fire Avert, discusses how his experience as a firefighter inspired him to create a product that prevents kitchen fires. As a firefighter, he noticed that kitchen fires were a common occurrence, often caused by people forgetting to turn off their stoves. To address this issue, he developed a device called Fire Avert, which automatically cuts power to the stove if the smoke alarm goes off. This product aims to eliminate the risk of fires when homeowners are not present. Thorpe emphasizes that kitchen fires are the leading cause of home fires, injuries, and property damage, and his product offers a unique solution to this problem.
- 00:05:00 In this section, Peter Thorpe explains that their product is primarily sold to multi-family housing, such as apartment complexes, rather than individual buildings. He clarifies that their sprinkler system is activated by heat, not smoke or smoke alarms. He also emphasizes the uniqueness of their product, stating that they are the only company that removes the heat source when the smoke alarm sounds, preventing fires from starting. Thorpe discusses the data tracking capabilities of their device, which allows them to measure the number of fires prevented and provide real-time notifications to homeowners. He mentions that they have patents on their products and highlights the cost-effectiveness of prevention compared to suppression methods. When asked about how he turned the idea into a business, Thorpe mentions the creation of a business plan and the recognition of the gap in household fire safety that their product could fill.
- 00:10:00 In this section, Peter Thorpe shares that his initial motivation for starting a business was not about making money, but rather about bringing a cool idea to life. With a team of engineers, he built a prototype that received positive feedback and support from industry professionals. They secured funding through business plan competitions and started selling the product. Peter also discusses the process of creating the initial prototype, partnering with an engineer from the beginning, and finding factories and entrepreneurs to help with prototyping for free. He emphasizes the importance of protecting their product through patents and encryption of the firmware. Despite not having a background in electronics or business, Peter has found the journey of transitioning from being a firefighter to running a substantial business to be rewarding, as it involves problem-solving and learning through trial and error.
- 00:15:00 In this section, Peter Thorpe discusses the challenges he faced as an entrepreneur, emphasizing the importance of having grit and problem-solving skills. He mentions that he has been able to overcome any obstacles that come his way and has learned from his mistakes. Thorpe also highlights the significance of partnering with the right people and selling their vision to investors and employees. He explains that in the early stages, they had to share equity with their partners due to financial limitations, but now they can afford to hire the people they need. Thorpe believes that having the right partnerships, especially in their supply chain, is crucial to their success. He also talks about their target market, which is mainly B2B, specifically apartment complexes that deal with frequent kitchen fires. While they would like to sell to residential homes as well, they have focused more on multi-family buildings due to the high demand and the potential to eliminate the recurring problem for these owners. Thorpe acknowledges that targeting individual customers might require a greater investment in education and advertising, but it could be a market they explore in the future.
- 00:20:00 In this section, the speaker discusses their plans to crack the e-commerce side of their business and reach a wider consumer market. They mention their appearance on Shark Tank and how it provided great exposure and propelled the company forward. Although they did a deal with Lori Grenier on the show, they ultimately decided not to pursue it further. The speaker also talks about their sales process, which involves a full sales team attending trade shows and following up with potential customers. The sales cycle can vary in length, ranging from a month to several months depending on budget approval and other priorities. The main goal is to provide the safest property for tenants, and the property owners often invest in the company’s devices to enhance safety.
- 00:25:00 In this section, the speaker discusses how their product is beneficial to landlords who want to provide a safe living environment for their tenants while avoiding the hassle of dealing with property damages. By installing their product, landlords can prevent fires, thus avoiding the costs and time associated with renovations, construction crews, insurance claims, and increased premiums. Many landlords have seen the benefits of the product and have expanded its installation to their entire property portfolio. The speaker mentions that they are present in the retail channel and have worked with big box stores, but working with them can be time-consuming and may result in lower profit margins. The installation process is relatively simple, with electrical units being plug-and-play and gas units requiring basic tools. Many customers prefer to have the company’s professional teams handle the installation, as it frees them up from other maintenance tasks. While they primarily focus on the US market, they also sell regularly in Canada and have plans to expand into Europe. Their team consists of around 20 employees, including sales, engineering, warehouse, customer service, and installation technicians. The installation teams travel extensively, staying in Airbnb accommodations and hotels as they move from one location to another, installing the product in different complexes.
- 00:30:00 In this section, the speaker explains that their company is continually improving and innovating their product, with new versions coming out regularly. They started with electric safety, then expanded to other appliances and now offer water sensors and monitoring for fire and smoke alarms. They emphasize that they are always developing new products and encouraging people to stay updated. The speaker also shares their experience as a firefighter and mentions that being a firefighter is a fun and exciting job. When it comes to lessons learned as an entrepreneur, they advise not to be afraid of failure and not to strive for perfection. They also mention the importance of being cautious when signing contracts with larger companies, as they can be slow and expensive. Lastly, they recommend the book “Shoe Dog” for entrepreneurs.
- 00:35:00 In this section, the interviewee discusses various topics such as reading books after becoming an entrepreneur, an innovative product they are excited about (Fiverr), a productivity tool they recommend (Fishbowl), their lack of knowledge about other companies, and how they look up to their employees. They also mention firefighters who invested in their business, advise entrepreneurs to believe in themselves and figure out what works for them, and mention that while they have a board for advice, ultimately they know their business best. The interviewer praises the interviewee for their personal and entrepreneurial journey and wishes them success in the future.
People & Resources Mentioned in the Episode
Book: Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
What You’ll Learn
Interview with Peter Thorpe of FireAvert
|[00:00:08] Introduction to TrepTalks|
|[00:00:32] Peter Thorpe and FireAvert Introduction|
|[00:01:12] Peter’s Journey from Firefighter to Entrepreneur|
|[00:02:30] Preventing Kitchen Fires with FireAvert|
|[00:04:00] How FireAvert’s Technology Works|
|[00:05:22] Fire Safety in Multi-Family Housing|
|[00:07:00] Tracking Data and IoT Integration|
|[00:09:00] From Idea to Building the Business|
|[00:11:08] Starting with Business Plan Competitions|
|[00:12:28] Technology and Prototyping Process|
|[00:14:02] Transitioning from Firefighter to Entrepreneur|
|[00:15:28] Importance of Partnerships and Storytelling|
|[00:16:46] Protecting Innovation with Patents|
|[00:18:00] Targeting Multi-Family Housing Market|
|[00:19:28] Balancing B2B and Consumer Markets|
|[00:21:00] Impact of Shark Tank Appearance|
|[00:22:06] Relationship with Lori Grenier|
|[00:22:48] Sales Process and Cycle|
|[00:24:00] ROI for Property Owners|
|[00:25:00] Expansion into Canada and Europe|
|[00:26:00] Retail Channel and Pricing Strategy|
|[00:27:00] Installation Process and Traveling Teams|
|[00:28:00] Team Structure and Roles|
|[00:30:00] Innovation and Product Development|
|[00:32:31] Firefighter Experience and Entrepreneurship|
|[00:33:00] Lessons Learned as an Entrepreneur|
|[00:34:00] Challenges with Big Companies|
|[00:35:00] Book Recommendation: “Shoe Dog”|
|[00:35:30] Productivity Tool: Fishbowl Inventory|
|[00:36:20] Inspiration from Employees|
|[00:37:00] Best Business Advice: Trust Yourself|
|[00:37:27] Business Advisors and Final Thoughts|
In this segment, the guest will answer a few questions quickly in one or two sentences.
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert
- Book recommendation that you would make to entrepreneurs or business professionals (Response: Shoe Dog by Phil Knight)
- An innovative product or idea in the current e-commerce retail or tech landscape that you feel excited about (Response: )
- A business or productivity tool that you would recommend (Response: Fishbowl Inventory)
- Another startup or business that is currently doing great things. (Response:)
- A peer entrepreneur or business person whom you look up to or someone who inspires you (Response: Colleagues)
- One networking tip or building and sustaining valuable professional relationships
- Best business advice you ever received.
(Response: Believe In Yourself)
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Hey there, entrepreneurs. My name is Sushant and welcome to TrepTalks. This is the show where I interview successful e-commerce entrepreneurs, business executives, and thought leaders, and ask them questions about their business story. And also dive deep into some of the strategies and tactics that they have used to start and grow their businesses.
And today I’m really excited to welcome Peter Thorpe to the show. Peter is a firefighter and the founder of FireAvert. FireAvert sells products that prevent fires. FireAvert technology syncs to the sound of smoke detector and will automatically cut power to the stove and range if the smoke alarm goes off.
And today I’m going ask Peter a few questions about his journey. And some of the strategies and tactics that he has used to start and grow his business. So thank you Peter so much for joining [00:01:00] me today at TrepTalks. Really, really appreciate your time and opportunity.
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: Yeah. Excited to be here and it’s always fun to talk with people and other entrepreneurs and kind of network, so thank you for this opportunity.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Definitely. So you are a firefighter, or at least you used to be. I if you’re still practicing firefighter and believe I read somewhere that you said, you know, If you want to be an ENT entrepreneur, being a firefighter is a really great profession. So I’m very curious to know, can you share a little bit about your kind of, you know, backstory and how you transition from being a firefighter to becoming the
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: entrepreneur?
Yeah, it’s, it’s kind of fun story. So just like, you know, a lot of, a lot of boys, they wanted to grow up and run with a firetruck and be a firefighter. That was my childhood passion, so I did it. I did it for 16 years. I just retired last June actually. Um, but early on in my career I realized that every single shift we’d go on a kitchen fire.
As a [00:02:00] firefighter who became really good at just your typical. Just room and context, but it’s on a kitchen stove there. And so the idea, that’s how we kind of came with the idea with, hey, you know, every shift we’re going on these kitchen fires. If only there was a way that we could turn down or turn off the stove, there wouldn’t be a fire.
So started the business 11 years ago and then just last year the business was to a point where I had to let go of my passion and entrepreneurs became my passion now. But let go of that childhood dream and, and do this, the fire for full-time.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: I mean, I think, uh, you are still in the firefighting business.
I mean, you’re just fighting it as an entrepreneur rather than, you know, being in the, uh, you know, being, being there, fighting it yourself. Um, and I was actually really surprised to hear that the most common fires are, you know, if people kind of forget turning out their stoves. Can you talk a little bit more about that and how, how does actually that fire start and, uh, and, and, and how is your product kinda.
Helping solve that
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: situation. Unique or different? [00:03:00] Sure. Yeah. Um, so, so kind of how our product, why it’s kind of different is and how kitchen fire’s the number one cause. So every four and a half minutes a fire department responds to a kitchen fire. It’s a number one cause of home fires out there. Nothing even comes close to.
It’s a number one cause. Uh, it is the most, uh, kitchen fires are the number one cause of injuries. Deaths, uh, property damage. So it is a big problem out there every think about it every four and a half minutes. And what’s crazy is for everyone that gets reported to a fire department, 50 go unreported. So I mean, people start to cook, like busy moms or students or elder or even you and me or kids are to cook and they start to like, my kids.
Like that’s a perfect example. You can start with my kids. They start to cook. They’re excited, they’re learning how to cook, and then they cook it on while they’re waiting for it to cook, they start watching tv. And they forget about it. And now we have a small fire, or my mother-in-law fell asleep. She, you know, while she’s cooking MAC in cheese, she falls asleep.
So in all these situations, [00:04:00] the smoke alarm goes off first smoke perceives fire and that smoke alarm is beeping and that’s what alerts the homeowner. But most of these situations, the homeowner has left the home. They left their home with their stove on. So smoke isi, but no one’s there. And so that’s why our product is so unique is we built a small box that goes in behind your stove.
In the event that your smoke alarm is sounding, there’s no fire yet. The smoke alarm is beeping. Our device fire will hear the smoke alarm. It hears the smoke alarm. It says the smoke alarm is sounding, the stove is on. It waits about 30 seconds. If no one turns the stove off, we cut power the stove, befores of fire.
We eliminate the heat source. No fire, no smoke damage, and that’s just the magic right there. And the homeowner comes home and their stoves turned off for ’em and no fire.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: That’s That’s so interesting. It’s really, uh, the hazard of someone not being in the home when you know, somebody forgot, you know, turn off the, the stove and then they went away and [00:05:00] they respond to the fire alarm.
Um, is there, does it happen like in, in buildings or homes? Um, especially in buildings. I believe you, you sell mostly into buildings, um, where. If the fire, smoke, smoke alarm is going on, then you know, the sprinklers and system would come on or something like that. Like if the fire, if there’s a fire
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: or something.
Oh, yeah. So we, we, you’re corrected. We do sell to, when you say building, we sell to multi-family housing, so apartment complexes, that’s mainly who we sell to. We, we kind of, we sell, I think we’re around about 8,000 every month that we deploy into multifamily across the country, across North America. Um, but sprinklers, so how those work, they don’t, they’re not activated by smoke or smoke alarms.
Uh, sprinklers are activated by heat. And so a sprinkler activates after a fire starts usually cause it has to, enough heat has to be built up and a sprinklers, a small little bubble. And once the, the liquid in there expands, it pops the glass ball and then the water comes out. So, [00:06:00] um, a fire alarm does not trigger sprinklers.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: And before, you know, you came up with this product, I’m assuming this, um, you know, was this a completely new idea or were there other products that were, um, out there? Yeah. That were out there on the same idea, or that were solving the same problem, but in a different way. What is, can you share, like, what is the innovation in this product?
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: Great question. So yeah, we, we are unique and we were able to get several different patents on our products. So before Fire Vert, everyone was trying to, um, stop this problem by pre, by suppression. And suppression is different. We are a prevention company, suppression. There was companies out there putting little canisters or they would drop powder on it once a fire started.
There’s companies out there that are regulating the heat stove, so stoves don’t get hot enough. There was motion detector saying, Hey, if you leave your stove for so long and we’re gonna shut off. We are unique because we are the only company [00:07:00] that removes the heat source that turns off the stove when the smoke alarm sounds, and again, it’s smoke proceeds fire, everything has a smoking temperature and then ignition temperature.
And so if we remove the heat source when it’s still smoking, then there’s not gonna be a fire. So we look, there’s a lot of products out there that suppress it, but in my experience from being a firefighter for 16 years, If we suppress suppression’s always much more expensive. And if we wait for a fire to start, there’s already a lot of smoke damage on your walls, your ceiling, and the time it suppresses it, you might already have a couple thousand dollars of damage.
Where when we prevent it, there’s no damage. There’s no cost to repair anything. And
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: how do you, is there some way for you to be able to, um, Measure how many fires this device has, uh, averted or prevented. Is this device connected to the internet? Like the, is this part of like the internet of things kinda technology Yeah.
Great. Where, [00:08:00] where it can do other things as well while,
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: yeah. Yeah. It’s a great question. So that was, we, we’ve been in business for 11 years and that was something we always wanted to. To capitalize on and to know is the data behind our product, how often are we shutting off the stove? How many fires are we preventing?
So, uh, we had basic ideas cuz customers, customers would call us or send us email saying, Hey, you prevented a fire from, uh, for us. And, and we get a lot of feedback. We knew we were doing a pretty good job with it, but last year, Um, just a little over a year ago, we put radio modules in all of our devices and we put them on the internet of things.
As you mentioned, we put ’em on, on the cloud, and so now we’re tracking real time, real data, and it’s amazing how many stoves we’re shutting off, how many fires we’re preventing. So now we have the data for insurance companies, for, um, just the ROI for, uh, people that own these. A big apartment complex, we can show them, Hey, here’s how often this is happening.
We’re, we’re stopping it. But also we’re going a step [00:09:00] further. Like, um, now the maintenance team is on site there, or the homeowners there, and we’re sending real time text notifications saying, Hey, your smoke alarm is sounding, go to your apartment, go check it out. And maybe it had nothing to do with the stove, you know, maybe it was a dryer, maybe it was a candles and the smoke alarm are sounding, and now we’re sending notifications.
So we’re having, we’re kind of coming in a whole, um, just automation company for the, the home there of keeping everyone safe and sending notifications out. Can you
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: share a little bit about, you know, when you initially got this idea or, or you recognized that there is this opportunity or there is this gap in the safety, you know, household safety around fire.
How did you go from that idea to thinking that there could be a business behind this? Uh, was there, was there, was there a kind of a business plan that you created? Like, you know, that. There are so many houses and right now the problem is not being solved. And so, you know, [00:10:00] did you put some numbers and how did you go?
Like what were some of the first steps, um, going from idea to actually having a product and then having a
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: business? Yeah. Um, so for us, for me, it was never about the money. Money never crossed my mind for a very long time. It was an idea of like, Hey, that would be pretty cool. That would probably work.
Let’s, let’s build this. And so we kind of got. We kinda got some people together that had engineering backgrounds that were smarter than me and we kind of tinker around with it and we built it and it worked. And I’m like, that’s pretty cool. And then we just started showing it to like, you know, as in the fire as a firefighter anyways.
And so we started showing it to fire marshals and we went kind of all over the state of Utah and showing, um, people in the industry and we got huge support. Like they really wanted us to see this come, come, come and, you know, into market. So. Um, and then I had to figure out, okay, well then how do we get money to do this?
And it was all the business plan competitions. We did get a business plan put together and there was, there’s so many competitions at all the universities. I think we won like a hundred thousand [00:11:00] dollars really, really quick. And that was neat and that was fun and exciting. Um, but it was never about, Hey, we can make a lot of money from this.
Let’s do it. It was more, Hey, this is, this is a cool idea. It’s gonna work. So. We got our first money just from business plan competitions, and then we got our first product here and we just started selling it to, you know, people who wanted it. And
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: from the technology perspective, um, what was it like creating, like the initial prototype and I believe you partnered with an engineer.
Are you the sole founder? Do you have like other co-founders as well? Who, who’s supporting you? Kinda from the technology side?
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: Yeah, I had a co-founder that was an engineer from the very beginning, from day one. Um, he stayed at the company for a few years and then he moved on to other projects that he wanted to work on.
Um, and so we, how the process started, we just prototyped kind of just with off the shelf. I, um, just read board circuit boards and just built the concept out and made sure it worked. And then, [00:12:00] Um, we, we kind of got burned working with some bigger companies and having them prototype it, they were much too expensive.
And then we found factories and other entrepreneurs that wanted to partner with us for long term and have our business. So they prototyped it basically for free for us. And, um, we tooled up overseas and within the time we had the idea from, we probably did like three different prototypes and within a year we had a, a product here, um, from manufacturing ready to sell.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: And, and you mentioned that of course, you, you have a, you have multiple patents on this product, so you know, you’re kinda, um, protecting yourself from being copied. I mean, these kind of products, I’m assuming can be copied relatively easy in, you know, in, in a Chinese market or, or you know, some of the other market.
Um, what, what are the patents? Can you share a little bit about the patent and what exactly. Is the, um, the innovation, uh,
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: that’s being, yeah, so in our [00:13:00] patents we have, you know, probably like 30 different claims. So I think we have maybe around three to five patents now, and we’re always applying for new patents, but they’re, they’re all public records.
If someone wanted to go see ’em, they could go, you can go look up our, any patents public. Um, but I don’t think it’s easy to copy. I think you’re wrong on that, that this is an easy thing to copy because China copies easy things, um, that they can just quickly do in a, in a circuit board, but, We keep our firmware, the magic behind making the product work.
Our firmware is very tied up and encrypted very highly. We spend a lot of money securing our firmware so anyone can pla make our plastics and make the device without our firmware. It’s useless, but no one says, tried to copy it because it’s also, it’s a niche market. It’s harder to sell, and we have relationships and.
Yeah, I’d love for someone to try to copy it or even do copy. Cause they’re gonna help in sharing the marketing workload and educating people on it. And we’re gonna have a better product at the end of the day. So they’ll, they’ll just help just market for us. [00:14:00] Definitely.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, how. You know, so you, you’re, you were a firefighter, of course.
You didn’t have an electronic background or, you know, business background or, you know, all this, uh, uh, uh, different kind of things that you, you had to do to bring this product to market. Um, what has been the journey like for you, um, transitioning from like being a firefighter and running, uh, uh, a substantial business?
Um, what kind learnings have you had to go through and. Was it easy, was it difficult? Uh, what, what is the word? 10 years then for you?
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: Yeah, sure. It’s difficult, right? Like it’s for, for me, because I didn’t go to school for accounting or engineering or any of these things. I’ve had to just learn it through trial and error.
Um, but it’s been very rewarding. It’s, it’s a lot of fun to come across a problem and fix it. And I think, you know, that’s what firefighters do day in, day out, we’re given a problem and it’s fix it, fix it [00:15:00] now, and. And, and we do that. And so I think that’s helped just knowing that hey, and I’ve learned over 10 years of doing 11 years of doing this now, is that whatever problem comes first, like, you know, first few years it’s you, you can’t get your patent.
There’s already things out there. And, and overcoming that and, um, just financing it and cost and selling it. And every problem that comes, I’ve now just learned like there’s not a problem that we can’t overcome. Like, we’ll figure it out. And I think maybe that’s maybe is different between me and other entrepreneurs is that.
I have that grit that I don’t care what the problem is. We’re gonna figure it out and we’re gonna move fast and do it. And sure we have made plenty of mistakes and wasted a lot of time and money, but we move fast and we recover and, and, and it’s been fun. It’s been a, it’s been a lot of fun. Just as much fun as being a firefighter, I’d say.
Cause it’s, you’re, you’re building something and overcoming problems.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, do you think that a big part of. Your success or big part of the reason that you’ve been able to, um, [00:16:00] bring this product to market is really, you know, as an entrepreneur, a big part of your role was partnering with the right people.
So at the beginning, you know, you partner with the right engineer or the engineer who can actually create the prototype, you know, eventually partnering with the right, um, supply chain people, manufacturers who can actually create the product. Um, do you think that. As an entrepreneur, a big part of what you do is really bringing the right people to come on the journey with you.
And how do you, if yes, how do you persuade them? Is that more of, you know, sharing equity? Is it more about inspiring with your vision? Um, or is it something else that, that you would attribute, you know? Yeah, I,
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: I think it’s a little bit of all that. It’s selling your story, right? Like every, everything we do from.
Getting manufacturers and other people or good other, um, employees to come. It’s, it’s selling our story, it’s our vision. And when we [00:17:00] first started, yeah, there was a part of, Hey, we can’t pay you what you’re worth. We’re gonna share some equity with you. Those days are, are long gone. Um, now we, we can afford to hire the people we need.
But it, it’s definitely having the right partners out there. Um, our supply chain partners and, you know, we have two different supply chains on different sides of the world, and those partnerships are very valuable and they take a risk when they work with us, right? They put up a lot of time and money to get everything set up over there.
So we have, we’re always selling our, our story, our vision to them, getting ’em excited about it. And I think it’s just also, it makes sense, the product. Makes sense. People think about it and they hear about the idea like, oh yeah, this stove should turn itself off. Like that’s powerful. And they, they believe in it.
They believe in us
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: in terms of the target market, um, you know, this is. I believe, uh, I read somewhere, you know, 95% B2B versus, you know, your e-commerce business. Um, initially when you had started, like did [00:18:00] you think that this is going to be more of a mass consumer product where people would go and purchase it for their home and easily be able to install it?
Um, and for you as a business, uh, you know, I’m assuming it’s much easier to show the value proposition to, uh, you know, apartment buildings and so forth. And, and then you get like a, of course a, a big number of, uh, product that, that you can install in, in a, in a building rather than going to a single home.
Uh, can you talk a little bit about how you, you know, came, came to this, uh, uh, target market and, and uh, uh, and what is the sales process like?
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: Sure. So yeah, we do sell 95% of all our business is, or even more than that, maybe to multi-family, just b2b. I would love to sell more to all the residential homes, but we don’t put a whole lot of time and money at that.
Uh, the, the e e-commerce world, there’s a lot of up upfront, you know, ad spend and all that. Inform and marketing material and, and [00:19:00] these multifamily, it just kind of happened naturally. They just kind of came to us or we got introduced to these apartment complexes, and like you and me, you maybe never have had a kitchen fire.
But these multifamily owners, when they own 10 to 50 or 80,000 apartments across the country, they have a kitchen fire every week. Every month they understand the pain. So when we come there and they have a, they have a huge headache. They have teams that go from renovation to renovation, from fire to fire.
And so if we can eliminate that pain for ’em, that then, you know, then we win their business for life. So it’s, it is been a na, a natural fit to work with them. Um, that’s all your question.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: That are part of it. Yeah. So, so do you think that it’s, uh, it’s kind a barrier? To kind of indi, uh, to educate the individual customer, because that’s going to require a lot more upfront investment in terms of, you know, uh, the education aspect of it and also like the advertising.
But do you think [00:20:00] that there, there may be, that may be a bigger market also that you would want to come back to at a later time?
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: Yeah, it’s definitely, well, your first question, yes. I think it is a barrier there with just having to educate each person, you know, for the one-off orders. But it is a, a bigger opportunity because they’re paying a higher price.
They’re not getting wholesale price, not getting bulk pricing for buying, you know, five or 10 or 20,000 units at one time. Um, but I think eventually we wanna crack that and go after it. Um, right now, We, we, we sell ’em as fast as we can make ’em. Like I said, we’re, we’re moving around 8,000 plus every month.
So, but eventually, yeah, the e-commerce side of it we want to tackle and, um, have sell into that industry as well.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: And I believe you had an appearance on Shark Tank as well. Um. I haven’t seen that episode. Uh, I, I read about it and I don’t know what the outcome was that, but was that kinda an attempt to crack the consumer market because, you know, [00:21:00] uh, some of these entrepreneurs have a bigger reach and, you know, bigger teams that can probably help with that.
And what was the outcome of that? And um, and did you decide or not decide to pursue
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: that? Yeah, shark Tank was a great experience. It definitely, um, propelled the company forward tremendously. Um, we did a deal in this show with Lori Grenier and that was a cool opportunity experience. I don’t think it was our intention to go on this show to break or get into the e-commerce world.
It, it mainly was just for exposure. Right. And it was an opportunity, like everyone wants to go in Shark Tank. I don’t know if we have like, hey, Our purpose of going here is to do this. It was just, Hey, it’s a good opportunity. Let’s do it. And we definitely did see a huge spike in online sales and even in our B2B customer sales.
And it, it continues each, it’s the gift that keeps on giving each time it re airs. And it’s been seven years, I think, and each time it re airs, we see a spike in sales, and it should, it should basically just, uh, free publicity, [00:22:00] educating people about our product. Very interesting. Um,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: do you, um, I mean, what kind of support are you getting from Laurie right now?
Like, is she more of like a general business consultant or does she help you with like, uh, marketing
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: or other areas as well? So we did di the show with her, but afterwards we didn’t close on it. It wasn’t in ours or her best. So we parted ways. Okay.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, So your sales channel, right now’s really just, uh, do you have a sales team that, that reaches out to, or, or handles all the, the different accounts and creates new deals?
Can you share a little bit about your sales process and what is the sales cycle? How long is the sales cycle and
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: so forth. We have a full sales team. Um, they have a, we have a sales manager. He hires and runs the whole team. So they, the sales cycles can be long cause a lot of these properties, they to budget for it and they ought to get [00:23:00] approval.
There’s a lot, a lot of red tape, a lot of decision makers. But we go to, the sales team goes to around like maybe 20 different, uh, trade shows a year. And so they’re there. They, we have an awesome booth and sometimes we’re out. Like we’ve been at three different trade shows across the country all at the same time with different sales, sales reps.
So they, they meet the decision makers. We get all of our business cards. They come back, we put it in our c r m, and they, that’s where the hard work comes in. Just all the emails following up. We do demo after demo. We, you know, just, we have a, a built-in kitchen here with, with our stoves. We install it, we show the customer how it works, we reset it, answer their questions.
And some, some cells, um, will drop and close within the first maybe month or two. Some can take, you know, 6, 9, 12 months because you have to get in their cycle of budget. And there’s other priorities they need. Maybe, maybe they need to put in, you know, a new roof, a new parking lot, and so they wanna buy it, but there’s, the money has to be used for another, um, another project at the time.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: I guess in terms of showing [00:24:00] them the r oi, it’s really, cause it’s, it’s kinda investment, right? It’s kinda an upfront, upfront investment. Um, is it really that they have to spend less in insurance or what hap like, what is the, what is the downside of having fires for the property owner, for having fire verts?
No. So the, the, the, the owner, the, the, the building owner that you’re selling it to, I mean, who’s, who’s making the purchase? Are they, are they getting the individual homeowners to buy? Uh, are they charging the homeowners to, for these, uh, uh, for these devices? Or are they investing their own money? And then, um, and it becomes kind of a feature of what they’re
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: offering.
Yeah. So yeah, the, they are not charging the homeowner to. The tenant, the, the renters there, the owners of the apartment complex, the management companies are fronting the bill for that. And sometimes they [00:25:00] get a break in their insurance, sometimes they don’t. But their main thing is, Hey, we wanna provide the safest property for our tenants.
We, they, we, they want to be good landlords. They wanna provide a safe place to live, but also they’re, they’re tired of the headache, right? They, they’re tired of chasing these fires. When they have a fire, they’re losing, it’s an investment form. They don’t, they lose out on rent. It’s just more cost and time to.
To renovate and fix and get construction crews there and dealing with the insurance. And then their premiums, their insurance premiums go. So if we can keep their insurance just level and not have to chase these fires and the headache there, they’re happy with it. So, um, they’re fronting the build themselves.
And a lot of our customers, they’ll put it in one property, they test it for three, six months, they love it, they see the benefit, and then the next site, the next year, they put it in their entire portfolio.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Are you in the retail channel or have you tried getting into a retail channel? I mean, that, that could be a big, um,
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: consumer.
Uh, yeah. We’re on a lot of big box.com sides of it. We have done [00:26:00] retail, some big box stores, um, uh, but they’re always time consuming to work with that are great if you have the manpower. Um, but also if we go to Big Box, um, we’re gonna sell it to them for. Thrown out a number, we’re gonna sell to them for like maybe $70.
And our multifamily customers already buying at top dollar dollar. They’re already, you know, they’re paying, they’re buying it more. They’re paying more for it than than a big box store would. So we’re kind of, um, cutting our margin out by having to be a middleman and selling to them, selling directly.
We’re making more money right now.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: For sure. Uh, in terms of the installation of this product, it seems like this is really just a plug, uh, you know, you can take it and plug it in and install relatively, like require complex installation process, is
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: it or. No, it’s pretty simple. It’s all our electrical ones, all plug and play, no tools.
Uh, the gas one does take, you know, some pipe wrenches there to kind of [00:27:00] just take off your gas line, put our product on. So it, it is pretty simple. Uh, surprisingly, a lot of our customers and multi-family, they’re so busy. They, they’re chasing AC units, uh, water leaks, roofs, all this other stuff. And so a lot of our customers prefer just to have us come and install it.
We take that workload off their plate. We come in with our professional teams, we install it, we give ’em another year of warranty in the device when we install it, but we can install it in just in a matter of couple days in a whole complex versus it might take their team, uh, months because they’re already busy with their own projects.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Yeah, I think, I think that makes a lot of sense because, you know, when you are installing it in, in mos, uh, then I guess you can bring your own, uh, installation person and, and do that. Um, in terms of the market, are you, I’m assuming you’re really just focusing on the US right now, and, uh, do you have any plans to have this product, uh, be used like in other countries like Canada or, you know,
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: internationally?[00:28:00]
So we, we sell into North America. So Canada, we do sell regularly up into Canada. Not a whole lot, but we do sell there. Um, our product only really works in certain countries, um, where the, the prongs and, you know, when we travel outside the country, everything’s a little different. Um, next year we will be launching into Europe.
And so we’ve already started, uh, with a partnership over there, um, and, and getting tooled up for our product to be compatible over in Europe.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: What does your team look like right now?
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: Bunch of awesome guys, like, just amazing people.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, we like what, what, what department, uh, how many people
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: support? Yeah. We, we have around like 20 employees right now.
Um, so we have a sales manager, his sales team that it’s about four guys. Um, engineering has two people. We, we have, um, two warehouse people, customer service and accountant. And then we do all the installs. We have, I think, uh, about eight. [00:29:00] Install technicians out in the fields. We have an install manager that manages eight teams across the country installing these.
And uh, it’s a lot of work. But, so that’s a quick rundown of the amazing team. So the
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: installation team probably has to travel quite a bit from one place to another to, you know, if they have to install something and Florida works, now they have to. So are they constantly traveling? How does that
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: work? Yeah.
So we have our own work fans that we give ’em, and we book all their housing through Airbnb and hotels, but they’re on the road full time. And a lot of these guys will be in a, in an area for months. Right. They’re not driving. Okay. Cause we have so many jobs, like we’re booked out for the whole year on jobs, so they’re, they’re.
They might drive three hours and, and they’ll be in that area for maybe a few weeks and then drive another few hours, be in that area for a few weeks. They’ll have multiple complexes close to ’em. And most of our work right now we have, uh, a team in California. Most of our teams are on the East coast, though one teams in [00:30:00] maybe close down to Texas, but most of ’em said on the East coast right now.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, in terms of innovation, of course you have a product working. Um, do. Are you, are you trying to continually improve or innovate on the same product or add additional features or, um, or are you even thinking about adding different products that are kind of like home safety kind of products that, that, that, you know, uh, this is fire safety, maybe that, you know, Uh, you have another product that, you know, electrical safety or something like that.
Uh, what, what, how, how are you building? What is the product, uh, r and d or product development? Uh,
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: Sure. So we’re always, we’re always innovating, making it better, building more. So we started with version one. We’re, we’re on version four right now. Uh, next year with version five will come out. So just like your [00:31:00] iPhone, there’s always a new software app, so we’re always making it better, improving it.
And then we started with just, we started years ago of just electric for one type of stove. Then we came out with electric for all type of stoves, and then we had our gas stoves, and then we had microwaves. Now we’ve added radio modules to everything. And now we’re, um, sending text notifications. We also now do water sensors, like water’s also a big problem like, um, underneath the sink or dishwashers or water heaters leaking.
And now we send a realtime notification saying, Hey, there’s a water leak in your apartment to the maintenance. And so we’re doing fire, we’re doing water. We monitor smoke alarms. So if someone takes us down there, smoke alarm, we send a notification to the property saying, Hey, this resident. Fire code, they took down their smoke alarm, you know, go put it back up.
So we are, we’re always have the new products come out. Um, so people could just keep watching. We’re, we’re innovating and every year we come out with new stuff.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Do you, um, and I believe you said that you kind of missed the [00:32:00] adventure that you, or, or the excitement, um, of the life of being firefighter. Um, were there, um, What was it like being a firefighter and do you have any, um, any special memories of, um, you know, uh, people that you’ve saved or, you know, a close encounter with death or something like that, that you can share?
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: You know, you know, being a, being a firefighter is awesome. It’s a lot of fun. Um, I always tell people when they ask me, tell a share story, either I’m gonna start crying or you’re gonna throw up. So, There’s, there’s a lot there, but, um, it, it’s a fun job. It’s the boys club. Um, it’s, it’s never a dull moment, let’s just say that.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So in every entrepreneur’s journey, there’s always mistakes made, lessons learned, failures, um, over the last 10, 11 years that you’ve been, you [00:33:00] know, have. One or two big lessons that you’ve learned, or failures that you’ve overcome, or mistakes that you made and, you know, lessons that you learned as an entrepreneur that you can share with the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: So I, I think lessons learned, um, just don’t be a afraid to fail. Like, don’t, don’t try to make it perfect. It’s not gonna be perfect. You won’t know if it’s perfect until you have 10,000 units out there. Um, and then I remembered. When we first started, um, signing, signing contracts with bigger companies that were too expensive, like you have when you first started, you have to do more just boots on the ground and, and find your cheapest people out there.
Um, I wouldn’t go when I was first starting with these big companies that, um, they’re, they’re too slow and they’re too expensive.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: And, uh, was it more [00:34:00] of the legal back and forth? Like, is, is it a complicated process to sign in? Uh, the, just the business agreement or
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: with, with the big companies? Um, there, there’s that too, but a lot of times it’s an open, it’s an open cash check.
It’s an open checkbook, right? They don’t wanna say, Hey, we’re gonna do that for this amount of money. And it’s an open book. And they say, Hey, we think it’s gonna be around this amount. I can promise you there’s gonna be double, triple in whatever they quote you. And so you run outta cash really quick. I learned when we didn’t have a lot of money is it was better for us to find, um, a single person or a smaller company that can say, Hey, we will do it for this amount of money.
And they lock the price in. Bigger companies just want an open checkbook and, and they will overshoot their budget every time.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Definitely. So now we’re going to move on to our rapid fire segment. In this segment I’m gonna ask few quick questions and them one or two words. [00:35:00] One book recommendation for entrepreneurs.
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: and why? Uh, shoe Dog. I like it because I think he, I think, I think Phil waited a long time before going public. He, he just kept going through and from hurdle after hurdle.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So did you start reading these books after you became the entrepreneur? Or did you kinda have the entrepreneurial big bug even when you were a firefighter?
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: No, I, I read, read it afterwards. Okay.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, an innovative product or idea in the current e-commerce retail or tech landscape that you feel excited about?
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: Uh, fire. I don’t know. I don’t follow other, I don’t follow other companies to be honest with you. I don’t know.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: A business or productivity tool or software that you would recommend or a productivity tip?
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: Um, uh, fishbowl, we just went with fishbowl. [00:36:00] I don’t know if they’re gonna be good. Check back, check back in a month, and I’ll tell ya
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: what is fishbowl? Is that like an accounting or?
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: It’s, uh, inventory control. Inventory
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: control, okay, cool. Um, a startup or business, uh, an e-commerce, retail or tech that you think is currently doing great thing besides your company?
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: No, I don’t, I don’t know. Then I don’t follow these other companies.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, a peer entrepreneur or business person whom you look up to or someone who inspires you?
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: Man, I’d say all the employees here, right? They’re awesome guys. I look up to ’em a lot. They’re all, they’re all entrepreneurs with us.
Sir. Did anyone
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: from your firefighting days kind of follow you into this business or, you know, wanna help you out with something like that or No?
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: A little bit. Um, we’ve had, um, our first, uh, couple investors were firefighters that believed in it, so they had some money, so, yeah. Cool. [00:37:00]
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Final question, best business advice you ever received or you would give to other entrepreneurs?
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: Um, leaving yourself? Don’t listen to other, I think too many times, uh, entrepreneurs listen to a podcast or listen to other entrepreneurs and say, Hey, That worked for them. It’s gonna work for me. I think it worked for them. It doesn’t mean it’s gonna work for you, so figure it out yourself and listen to, listen to yourself more than anyone else.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: um, I mean, throughout your journey, of course you’ve partnered with a lot of other businesses, uh, and so forth. Um, do you have any business advisors that you keep in touch with to help you advise on the business at all? Um,
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: Yeah. Uh, so we, we do have like a board technically, and we, when we send out financials to them, um, they’ll chime in and give some advice.
You know, they, they’ve built, sold business in the past, so just asking ’em for feedback on different things, and it’s helpful, but once again, no one knows your [00:38:00] business better than you. So that it’s just advice. And sometimes we don’t listen because we know our business better than they do. Definitely.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Well, Peter, those were all the questions that I, that I had, uh, really, really enjoyed. Uh, learning more about your, uh, you know, personal story as well as entrepreneurial story and also, uh, you know, uh, some of the things that you’ve done to really start and, and grow your business. Really interesting business, uh, saving life.
So, you know, nothing can be better than that. Uh, so yeah, thank you so much again for joining me today at Trip Talk and really wish you and your business, uh, all the, all the success in the future.
Peter Thorpe of FireAvert: Awesome. Thank you so much for your time, and letting us be a guest on your show. Thank you. Awesome. Thank you, Peter.
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