The Story of City Bonfires
We sat down with a couple of guys that have one of the other “hottest” growth companies in America. The conversation was about entrepreneurship, applied creativity and making good things happen in life.
Their story is indeed the great American success story. Couple of guys with families facing hardship as the pandemic took its toll across America. As many families did, they created a “pod” where the two families could meet, the kids play and enjoy their backyards together.
Inevitably those long days led to conversations that began with two of the most magical words in the English language, “What if….”
As is usual in the wide-open creative stage of anything, the “whiteboard” was clear and there was no limit to their discussions on how they could start up their own business. Concurrently, do it on a shoe string budget and keep all elements of the process within their control.
Well, Chris McCasland and Mike Opalski stuck with it. There is no quit in these two guys.
Each conversation worked its way from “What if…” to “How can we…”.
It’s that critical leap from transitioning an idea into reality. A lot of great business ideas fail right at this stage. But, they worked it…over and over and over.
So, imagine the scenario that led to the “What if….”.
To make the days and evenings pass, and create an environment where their kids could continue to play and eat outside together, they grilled, but also built a backyard bonfire.
During one of those evenings, the question became “What if…we could create a mini bonfire for people that don’t have the same outdoor area that we have?”
The “What if…” evolved to was “How can we…build a portable, mini bonfire?”. What could we use to transition this bonfire to a safe table top version?
If we were playing “Jeopardy” the answer would be a simple Star-Kist tuna fish can.
Then the dominoes started to fall…what would be the fuel agent? What wicking agent creates a bonfire feel? What type and size container would work? And, where could they source supplies?
Concurrently they started researching and gaining an understanding of e-commerce and how they could introduce and market the product.
It was the simple act of opening a tuna can for lunch that solved problem number one…the container… that would work!!!
They created several prototypes and starting experimenting. The final solution was a 4” x 2” round steel can with a non-toxic soy wax and a 4-pronged, peat-based wicking agent that created a flame about the circumference of the can.
Now they had a working prototype and product solution. Next up was solidifying the supply chain, production process, establishing the e-commerce platform and product launch.
It was the pandemic that also helped solve the “where do we do this” question. There was plenty of commercial space available to store product supplies, stage their own production line, house inventory and run their own fulfillment operations.
With that, “City Bonfires” was born. (www.citybonfires.com)
Tiffany McCasland has had past experience in marketing and developed a modest Facebook ad campaign.
Then, lightening hit. You could say it hit like “like wildfire”.
Their modest start went viral. The ingenuity and creativity behind this small business launch was picked up by media outlets across the world. Serious major media platforms, such as “Good Morning America”, “People”, “Forbes” and many more highlighted their story featuring “The Original Portable Fire Pit” in major segments.
Sales started pouring in. They quickly went from “start-up” to “how do we scale”.
That early success enabled them to secure credit lines to build inventory and expand fulfillment, as well as increase operations space.
They’ve taken that kernel of an idea, gave it life and worked hard to expand their product offerings. The most obvious and brilliant was a mini-version of our favorite bonfire pastime…making smores. Smartly packaged, they bundled all of the “makings” of a smore with their mini bonfires. (And yes…with both chocolate and fudge options)
They’re working on additional product offerings and continue to build their wholesale and direct channels.
These guys have their feet firmly grounded, are humble and grateful for the enormous customer response, and are a shining example of “The Great American Success Story”.
Chris, Mike and Tiffany…Congratulations, well done!!!!
We are participating in a giveaway with City Bonfires! Head on over to their Instagram page to enter to win a $200 Madda Fella gift card and a $200 City Bonfires gift card!