Company to Watch | Innovating Solutions
Local barbecuers are fired up about Innovating Solutions’ new device, Tappecue.
Entrepreneurs: Gina Bourret, Aniruddha Shukla and Jacob Bourret
Company Information: (913) 709-2540 or firstname.lastname@example.org or www.innovating-solutions.com
Type of Business: IT consulting and app development
Year Founded: 2010
Great barbecue takes time—several hours, in some cases. To make sure that a piece of pork shoulder is as tender as possible, a cook has to keep a close eye on the temperature throughout the process.
A new device, Tappecue, can help barbecuers monitor their meat’s temperature via a mobile app, allowing them to run to the store or tackle other projects until the meal is ready.
Tappecue is the work of Innovating Solutions, a local IT consulting and app development firm founded by Gina Bourret and Aniruddha Shukla. Bourret is a longtime software developer in Kansas City; Shukla is a recent graduate of UMKC’s E-Scholars program and has a master’s in electrical and computer engineering.
Tappecue isn’t their first project. The company has built a series of apps, including Find & Replace, which brings find-and-replace functionality to mobile devices, and AutoCorrect Switch, which makes it easier for cellphone and tablet users to turn off their devices’ auto-correct tool. Their latest effort, though, looks like it will outshine them all.
“Tappecue has been our biggest hit,” Bourret said.
The original idea came from Chris Marks of Three Little Pigs BBQ & Catering and was built out by Innovating Solutions. A prototype of Tappecue debuted at last fall’s American Royal, one of the world’s largest barbecue competitions, where it attracted positive media attention. More importantly, a lot of barbecue enthusiasts got to watch Tappecue in action.
“We saw from this experience that we have a product that people are really interested in,” Bourret said.
The Tappecue device is a small box that sits outside a smoker. It’s connected to four probes that snake into the smoker and monitor the temperature there. Via Wi-Fi, the device then feeds data to Tappecue’s server. Users can get updates on their smoking session through Tappecue’s mobile app.
Since the American Royal, Innovating Solutions has been refining and reengineering the Tappecue to reduce costs. They plan to beta-test the updated version this month, with an eye toward hitting the consumer market by this summer.
Bourret’s son, Jacob, is Innovating Solutions’ marketing director and a student at UMKC. The Bourrets are part of the E-Scholars program this year, and Tappecue is serving double-duty as a class project. “So
I’m actually a student with him in the E-Scholar program this year,” Gina Bourret said.
Tappecue is Innovating Solutions’ top priority right now, but the company has ideas for additional products, such as a “Tappecue Pro” that would work under higher temperatures and could be marketed to restaurants or competitive cooks.
“What we see in Kansas City is a really good place to do this kind of technology,” Bourret said.