It's the most annoying part of any baking project: clean up. Specifically, whisk cleaning. You're usually prodding at globs of dough, trying to force it out from its wiry cage - or maniacally scrubbing every metal loop, trying to get each piece clean. For a gadget so small, a whisk can really be a pain to deal with.
Matthew Michel feels your pain, and one day, he set out to do something about it. He realized he'd been wasting precious minutes of his life - minutes none of us are getting back, people! - wiping down a whisk, and he figured there had to be a better way. While most of us would grumble and forget about it, or vow to learn how to make buttercream with a silicone spatula from now on, he went straight to ... Auto Zone. Yup, Auto Zone, the car parts store.
That day, with a silicone gasket, some cardboard, and an X-acto knife, he created the first prototype for the Whisk Wiper - a deceptively simple gadget that's since gone viral online. You slide the tool onto the whisk before you use it (its wide brim acts like a spoon rest, keeping the loops of the whisk from touching your table - or from rolling away). Then, after you've whipped up a Bruce Bogtrotter-worthy chocolate cake or fluffy meringues, you slide the wiper off. Boom! It's so fresh and so clean, clean that Outkast could dedicate a song to it.
Michel quickly realized he was onto something, so he immediately applied for a patent. It wasn't until a while later, though, that he decided to turn it into a business. Plunking down $600 in Facebook ads, Michel promoted a video he'd made on the Whisk Wiper, with the hopes of drumming up preorders and support on Kickstarter. He racked up 2.5 million views in no time, and suddenly, media outlets started reaching out to him, asking if they could use his footage to create their own Facebook videos about the tool.
"It's the only time in my life I had something genuinely go viral," he says.
In one day, he'd reached his Kickstarter goal, and over the course of the campaign, he raised eight times his goal, pulling in $80,370. That part, though, was pretty strategic.
"We worked with a Kickstarter advisor, and the rule of thumb is to have your first wave of support lined up before you even launch your campaign," Michel explains. "Everybody sets low goals, and you want to hit your goal right away."
Clearly, the more traction your campaign gets early on, the more the idea seems like a surefire hit - and something worth investing in, to the outside world. Michel followed that model, using the interest he drummed up from his Facebook ad (he had people join an email list to find out when it'd be released) to start his Kickstarter campaign out strong. The videos from other outlets, like a "Coolest Things of 2016" compendium, only added momentum.
To date, videos about the Whisk Wiper have racked up 60 million views, Michel says. The reaction's been so overwhelmingly "shut up and take my money!" good that he's now looking to expand the business, with a mini whisk model and a stand mixer version, which he plans on debuting later this year.
In the immediate future, though, he's looking at ways to expand the original Whisk Wiper's reach. For now, you can only buy it at WhiskWiper.com, but he's looking into selling it on Amazon, as well as other stores.
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