The Hot Dog Innovation that Failed: Commercialisation and Consumer Behaviour

Commercialisation of innovative ideas is no easy task.  We get so engrossed with the technology and tend to forget about the consumer behaviour specific to the target market.

What are the right embers to light your fire?

The general view about successful startups and their commercial developments in any field of human endeavour, is that the key essential is an original idea.

This is not so…

A number of startup successes have grown from re-worked ideas.  Google was the 12th search engine; iPad was the 12th tablet; Facebook was the 10th social network; Tesla wasn’t the first to make electric cars.

It’s not who gets there first; it’s who gets it right when the market is ready!

Of course, chance always plays a part.

The successful launch of re-worked ideas, in large part is driven by having a more complete understanding of the target industries; institutions or socioeconomic groups in which the innovation may find its place; and a clear understanding of the Co-Founder’s own strengths and limitations (financial, technical, marketing, legal).

The “best laid plans” fail, often due to what may appear to be very minor issues.  Equally, the most unlikely plans sometimes succeed.

A good plan is essential but not sufficient and frequently the plan is confused with its implementation.  The plan should cover all the basic issues, but is only a structure and must be fleshed out by the Co-Founders.  

The American Hot Dog

An interesting example of a bright startup idea that should have been a winner relates to the much-loved American ‘hot dog’.

The Australian Startup

An Australian, appalled by the mess created when trying to eat the standard hot dog, invented a rapid automatic device that prepared the hot dog by inserting the sausage plus condiments / extras by coring the bun from one end along its length without piercing it at the other end.

Thus, the resulting hot dog had only one orifice through which the inserted contents could leak, and provided the dog was eaten from this end of the bun, the possibility of leakage was greatly reduced.  In this way, the consumer could avoid the inevitable staining of clothing when devouring a dog that is prepared by slitting the bun longitudinally in the traditional way; a much slower process.

The Failed Australian Startup

There was a well-publicized launch in the US, but the results were disappointing.  The consumers clearly favoured the traditional hot dog.  A second attempt was made some months later with the same result.

The Consumer | The Mind-of-the-Market

On TV, there were advertisements for hamburgers with the theme “wear it” which provides the answer.  The image of a man devouring a burger with the contents, mainly tomato sauce, dribbling down his shirt.  The next images are a series of happy men all bearing a sauce stain on their shirts leading to the theme “wear it”.

These promoters believe they can gain market share by promoting a distinct disadvantage that has, nevertheless, become a significant part of the local culture.  What many might agree was a great leap forward, naively ignores the target market.

The Australian startup has egg on their face, leaving the Americans content with sauce on their shirts.


Although not an exhaustive list, I would rank the following areas for successful commercialisation:

  1. Know yourself.
  2. Know your target market.
  3. Funding (and completed MVP).
  4. Planning and getting the timing right.
  5. The concept (and completed MVP).

Knowing yourself, your Co-Founder and trying to slash egos to shreds goes a long way.

About the author

Investors consistently talk about the business model, number of users, revenue streams, customer acquisition costs, exit strategy (their liquidity event) – we get it.  But it’s not often that investors dig deep into the psychological dynamics of the executive team.  AppCurate will; and they’ll say it straight.

“We all make mistakes especially launching new products.  We’ve made some and royally stuffed up.  For example, one CEO (with a technical background) insisted completing a risk analysis designed for an “established medium sized company” rather than focus on the product roadmap to market.”

AppCurate builds apps (using its own software team) and aggressively grows early-stage start ups from Sydney, Melbourne, Hamburg and Kolkata. The Co-founders’ vetted concept can access the future early-stage seed fund (officially an ESVCLP) to scale grow and reach new heights.

Join AppCurate in the first-of-four capital raising round tables at Fishburners (or online) commencing on 3rd August. Register here.

For more information on AppCurate email [email protected]

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