A lot of people love burgers because they’re tasty and satisfying. The downside is they may also have an adverse effect on our health because of all the fat, contaminants, and dangers associated with E. coli. But there is a cool little kitchen gadget now on the market that attacks these problems with hamburgers head-on. It is aptly named The Burger Buddy Fat Reducer, because it actually reduces fat and other contaminants associated with cooked hamburgers. It uses a process that is so safe and simple, you will wonder why you didn’t think of it yourself.
Dr. Frank Abernathy, a research biologist, is the President and founder of the company that developed this product. The process it uses is so novel it is covered by U.S. patent 5,397,585. He is currently selling The Burger Buddy Fat Reducer online at http://theburgerbuddy.com. Now, thanks to this product, every burger lover can enjoy a regular hamburger without so much of the guilt.
Dr. Abernathy also has two blogs: http://www.theburgerbuddy.wordpress.com and http://www.healthierhamburgers.blogspot.com which he updates frequently.
The team decided to catch up with Dr. Frank to learn more about his unique business.
Please tell our readers something about your business.
Abernathy Enterprises, LLC is a product research and development company with an online marketing presence. It is currently promoting a kitchen utensil called The Burger Buddy Fat Reducer based on patented technology that reduces fat in cooked meats like hamburgers by as much as 50% as shown by independent laboratory tests. This product is currently being sold at www.theburgerbuddy.com.
How has your entrepreneurial journey been?
Having founded the company, I am also currently holding the positions of the company President. I am also an inventor with five patents. I have a sizeable cache of unpublished ideas, together with an assortment of working prototypes. I believe in coming up with solutions for the contemporary difficulties. Generally, these “solutions” require a number of iterations to get them to the prototype stage. The Burger Buddy is one of two products he has brought to market, the first one being a wine stand used to prevent wine leakage in the refrigerator. Besides all this, I have also written an environmentally-sensitive science fiction novel entitled ‘The Tower of Mount Everest’ as also songs, poems, and have accomplished experience in piano, singing and on occasions, like playing the trumpet.
How did the idea for your business come about?
I like to think outside the box. I had received a patent on a garbage recycler over 30 years ago and another one on a solar energy plant 28 years ago, long before either of these areas was in the mainstream. I have also developed working prototypes for separating cardboard from newspaper for recycling, separating water from gasoline, preventing flooding of house trailers, a low fat cooking grill, a self-cleaning hairbrush, dental floss holder, tear-resistant food packaging, and a weed-eater support. There may be others that I actually don’t remember! Unfettered creativity requires an outlet, and starting my own business was the first step in allowing his ideas to come to fruition.
How important have good employees been to your success?
Well since I am an entrepreneur who works on a contractual basis, I have no permanent employees other than myself and my wife and partner, Yvonne. Obviously, finding the best people to work with is paramount in getting a project off the ground and running. The Burger Buddy Fat Reducer went through several iterations involving three design engineers and three mold designers, one of the latter being the current manufacturer of the product in Ohio. The website that used to market the product has also gone through a number of iterations involving an initial setup, followed by major revisions involving two other designers and a polishing up of the site by EBrandz.
What three pieces of advice would you give to college students who want to become entrepreneurs?
- Get your ducks in a row before getting started; realizing that once this is done you will probably have to rearrange them all over again. It’s part of the learning process.
- It’s nice if you get lucky but don’t count on it. Instead, count on just the opposite. It will help prepare you for all the unseen obstacles that lie ahead for you and your success.
- Don’t give in to negativity. It poisons your creativity, drive, and spirit and will kill any chance for success. Drink a beer with some friends instead and go blow off some steam without getting you or someone else killed in the process.
If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Work the system better without compromising my principals. Sounds simple enough, but it sure isn’t easy. In my case, this required gaining experience primarily from the school of hard knocks.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Guts, perseverance, and learning “on the go”.
How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
That is quite literally the million dollar question. The difference between success and failure can sometimes be measured in inches, steps, hours, and loose change. You have to go above and beyond the call of duty, and sometimes even beyond the call of reason to bend reality to your will. No one can say when to quit but the entrepreneur. It’s a very personal decision. I would venture to say that most entrepreneurs “quit” projects all the time, then, dust themselves off and work on the very same project the next day.
How many hours do you work a day on average?
Usually 40 hours during the work week with additional time at home.
How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
I put my family first and my business second and I have been married for 32 years. My wife and I both have full time jobs but she still helps me with the business.
What motivates you?
I would like to have the freedom and finances to complete many of my inventions and continue with my research as well as pursue other creative endeavors.
How do you generate new ideas?
First, there has to be a problem that needs to be solved. Second, is there anything I can do to work on that problem? Third, start thinking about it. Fourth, start doing something about it.
What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
Fear of quitting too soon and letting people down.
What are your ideals?
A world free of pollution and want. The biggest obstacle to this dream is over population.
How do you define success?
A successful family, good friends, financial stability, and leaving something behind of value to others.
What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
Take care of your family and friends, treat people with respect, don’t cheat them, be honest about what you can deliver, and then do it to the best of your ability.
Where did your organization’s funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?
The vast majority of my funding came from my own money, including liquidation of IRA’s. I recently received a $6,000 loan from The Economic and Community Development Institute in Columbus, Ohio.
How did you obtain investors for your venture?
I am still looking for investors.
How do you build a successful customer base?
This has been a really big challenge. The product is so unique people have a hard time believing it can really work, i.e., actually reduce fat without destroying the flavor of the meat in the process. What works best is actual demonstrations where people can try out the meat for themselves. This should work great on TV with audience participation but I have been unable to get this kind of exposure. A bad economy coupled with credit card phobia also makes it real challenge to sell the product online.
How did you decide on the location for your business?
I use online stores for sales. Other than flea markets or home sales, other venues are not currently available.
Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
Yes. First, recognize a unique niche that is not being filled. Second, would the customer base be large enough to sustain the business? If you can, fund it on your own to get it up and running. If it shows promise, outside funding can be obtained by writing up a business plan.
If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?
My grandfather, Horace Sloan. I never got to know him and he was a brilliant man.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
I admire a lot of people so this is difficult to say. I would like to say Thomas Edison but I found out that he wasn’t a very nice man and stole a lot of ideas from people. I would have to say Nikola Tesla who once worked for Edison, but Jonas Salk also comes to mind.
What is your favorite book?
I would have to say ‘The Tower of Mount Everest’. It inspired me enough to write it.
What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Independent thinking and the freedom to act on it.
To what do you most attribute your success?
My business is a work in progress so I cannot really say it is successful at this point. Assuming these changes, I would list the following: know who your customer is, make a compelling product that opens up their wallets, make them happy they actually did business with you, be frugal in how you allocate your funds, and always pay attention to what is going on around you because it has the capacity to make or break you.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Having the Burger Buddy Fat Reducer manufactured.
What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
Dealing with the fear of failure and the lack of security that comes with being an entrepreneur.
How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Live presentations work the best.
What kind of culture exists in your organization?
This is not that applicable in my situation because I have no salaried employees. I pay companies and independent contractors to do a particular job.
In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
As a businessman, this would be poor money management and bad investments.
How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?
Learn from my mistakes, be careful who I do business with, listen to my customers, adjust my product(s) accordingly, and try to do right by them.
What are your hobbies?
Play the piano, sing, ski, bike ride, play with my grandkids.
What makes you happy?
My hobbies, my wife, product development, research.
What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
A lot of time, money, and effort.
Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Where you see yourself and your business in the next 10 years -20 years?
Developing products or processes on a contractual basis for other companies or marketing them through my own company.
If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask?
Why is your product important enough that individuals or companies should buy it?