By Pierre-Olivier Girard
BUSINESS. A Magog company has big ambitions as it sets out to conquer the American football market and its popular tailgate gatherings with the world’s first barbecue in the shape of a football, dubbed the “Ballbecue “.
This completely crazy project has been floating around for a long time in the mind of businessman Stephen Genest, who is behind the Barbec business in Magog as well as the Steforno La Fabrique restaurants. Having worked in the United States in the mid-2000s, he quickly fell in love with football and particularly its pre-match gatherings, which sometimes bring together several thousand people.
With such a frenzy, the entrepreneur in him quickly went into opportunity mode. “The “tailgates” in the United States are insane! There is nothing that compares to that in Canada, except perhaps in Quebec. When I went there, I did not understand that people arrived with their barbecue all crooked, all bumped, without any concept. That’s when the idea of creating a barbecue in the shape of a balloon started to germinate in my head, ”explains the man who has since teamed up with former footballer Danny Desriveaux.
A turning point in his backyard
If the concept may seem simple at first glance, it is rather a mountain of complexity that appeared in front of the businessman. The latter searched for years to find a technology capable of creating a high-performance machine in the desired shape.
It was finally a few kilometers from his home, more precisely in Sherbrooke, that he found a company capable of making it by the name of Verbom. “It was a perfect match! We started working together in March and the prototype was born around August. Since then, we’ve been doing several cooking and transport tests and I can tell you that it’s quite a beast! »
In addition to its design to make barbecue lovers and football “fans” dream, the “Ballbecue” has a grid in the shape of a football field. Technology is even built in with LED lights and a horn. The device can even attach to the bed of a truck with a specially designed tether.
All inclusive, this fireproof balloon will retail for around $2,500 Canadian.
Victim of its popularity
Stephan Genest quickly realized that his prototype would not go unnoticed and would even make people envious. Very recently, during a short stop in Rosemère, the device was stolen from his truck by thieves.
Fortunately, the equipment worth tens of thousands of dollars was found… with some damage to boot. “This prototype cost us over $50,000 to produce, so it was stressing us out a lot! At least it ended well and we’ll be ready for the official launch, which will take place next January in Las Vegas. Our goal for 2023 is to sell 20,000 copies. To achieve this, we will have to expand our production facilities and find a warehouse on American soil. Ultimately, local economic spinoffs of more than $15 million are expected,” he projects.
Approached by the NFL
With a market study in support, the businessman repeats that there is nothing comparable in the world today. This is no doubt why the National Football League (NFL) itself approached the company when it discovered its custom-designed product to appeal to its “fans” from all over the country.
“With an agreement with the NFL, but also the NCAA and the CFL, we could allow each buyer to personalize his “Ballbecue” with the logo of his favorite team. In addition, one could take advantage of the great visibility of these leagues by being associated with them in an official way. It would completely change the situation! he concludes with great enthusiasm.