Chris Boyle The Daytona Beach News-Journal
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Kendall Buck is the inventor of "the Herbie Rake." The simple double-sided cooking utensil helps to peel herbs.
Years of scratch-made cooking eventually sparked an idea for Kendall Buck.
Buck, a 19-year-old Gilbert, Arizona, native and sophomore at Stetson University, and her parents dreaded collecting cilantro leaves off the stems.
"It got to the point where we were either trying to make deals with each other about washing the dishes or thumb wrestling instead of peeling herbs because we knew how tedious and time-consuming it was," the entrepreneurship and management student said.
Every time it was her turn to pull the herbs through a strainer or slotted spoon, Buck's mind fixated on a singular thought:
There has to be an easier way to do this, right?
Now, thanks to her own creation, there very well could be a solution.
Buck developed the Herbie Rake — a red, double-sided cooking utensil which strips leaves of cilantro, rosemary, dill, basil and more off their stems — using a 3D printer in the duPont-Ball Library's Innovation Lab at Stetson.
She finalized the design at the end of her freshman year with the assistance of Tony Ganus, the Innovation Lab manager.
Kendall attributes her mother, Tabitha Buck, for inspiring her with the final design. She said her father, 14-year veteran chef Gordon Buck, ignited her entrepreneurial spirit.
Gordon died suddenly at the age of 49 on Aug. 6, 2017. At the time, Buck was a junior in high school.
"He definitely pushed me to be outgoing and take risks," she said. "I think that, combined with all the cooking growing up, is what drove me to get my business off the ground."
Last spring, she pitched the item at the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization Southeast Entrepreneurship Conference in Chattanooga, Tennessee — reaching the finals of the three-round competition.
"It helped validate my idea even further seeing that the audience and judges really liked the product," Buck said.
Consumer demand, though, is the true test.
Tabitha helped pass along the rake's prototype to friends and acquaintances, along with a survey for market research. The response was overwhelmingly positive, but a handful of tweaks were made — the width of the teeth and adding a second strafing side, for example.
"When she 3-D printed her first prototype, I knew right there she was onto something," Tabitha said. "She’s not going to stop until she gets it out there and starts selling it. She would call me and practice her pitch, and it seemed like an easy decision that it was a good product.”
In December, she launched a Kickstarter campaign with a $2,000 goal. By month's end, she raised $4,779 from 131 backers.
"The first day or two was a lot of friends or family; then it was complete strangers who had seen it through Facebook, Instagram, etc., pledging to this cause and for my business," Buck said.
In addition to the Kickstarter, Buck made the Herbie Rake available for purchase via her own website. She sold more than 230 units, at $8.99 apiece, through the holiday season.
"It’s a simple, but executable idea. And that’s the beauty of it," said Lou Paris, the director of Stetson's Joseph C. Prince Entrepreneurship Program. Buck's goal, Paris added, should be to maintain at least two open channels for customers — the Herbie Rake website and independent social media promotion.
Additionally, the product will soon have a home on Amazon.
"This particular (Amazon) team, once they identify a product, facilitates the account management process for the first year," Paris said. "We can ask for people by name who can fix issues that we have. We can penetrate the market a bit more."
Eventually, Buck would like to see the Herbie Rake on the shelves of prominent retailers, such as Walmart, Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond. Next week, Buck is scheduled to meet with Port Orange entrepreneur Desiree Haller, whose SubSafe waterproof, eco-friendly sandwich containers are available for purchase at Publix.
Haller and her husband, Adam, appeared on ABC's Shark Tank last year. They struck a deal with executive producer and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Hall of Fame basketball player Charles Barkley.
"They’re both go-getters, big-time," Paris said. "I have no doubt something will come from this. They are two women I am very confident that, if there’s a way, both of them will find a way to get the product to the market.”
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