Richard Gliech is a Burlington based engineer & entrepreneur who spends his days providing English-to-French translation services for companies operating in technical and industrial fields. In the evening’s Richard likes to entertain and cook, inviting family and friends to gather around an old steel drum he turned into an oven over 15 years ago. That oven was inspired by similar ones he had seen used to cook tarte flambée while growing up in Wissembourg in the Alsace region of France.
During the pandemic, after many years of requests to purchase ovens, Richard decided to try and build a smaller version that would be more appropriate for backyard entertaining. He signed up for metalworking classes here at Generator, participated in the JumpStart Business Development Program, launched WoodFyred, and has been slowly growing the business ever since with the enthusiastic support of his wife Sandra.
Below we check in with Richard to see how things are going, and to learn a little bit about his experience participating in the JumpStart Program.
Tell us a little bit about your business… What do you sell… Why is it unique?
I’m selling a compact, affordable, easy-to-use wood-burning outdoor oven made with an upcycled 20-gallon steel drum.
Where did the idea for your business come from, and when did you know it was more than just an idea and worth pursuing as a business?
Years ago, I designed and made a similar oven out of a larger drum. It worked beautifully and I was told many times that I should sell it. For Christmas 2020, my wife and I took a metal-working class at the Generator and made our first smaller oven to give as a present.
Do you remember how you heard about Generator’s JumpStart program?
During the class, Alex Hahl mentioned JumpStart, saying that the oven would fit the bill nicely.
What was it about the JumpStart program that made it worth applying to… What were you hoping JumpStart would help you accomplish?
JumpStart was very helpful in clarifying in my mind what I was trying to achieve, as well as defining the identity and mission of my business.
After being accepted, how would you describe your JumpStart program experience… Was there anything particular that stood out, or surprised you?
Overall, it was a lot of fun. There was a nice focus on group dynamics, with real positive energy. It felt like a very safe environment to present our products and ideas to the rest of the group before going public.
How did JumpStart help you grow as a business owner or affect the development of your business? Were there any particular challenges that the JumpStart program helped you to overcome?
JumpStart really got my business on track. In addition to all the practical training I received in the various areas, the assignments we received helped me stay focused on its development. I strongly feel that I achieved results that would otherwise have taken me months or years. One area that I had absolutely no experience with is social media and JumpStart was very helpful in that area. Also, comparing notes and sharing knowledge with other participants was very useful, for example in the choice of an e-commerce platform.
Were there things about the Generator community, or the tools available to you, that allowed you to grow your business in ways that might not have been possible otherwise?
The metal shop is central to my business, more specifically the CNC plasma cutter and welding equipment. I also started using the wood shop recently, as well as the laser machine.
Do you have any advice for future JumpStart applicants and/or recipients? Any advice/tips/tricks that you wish someone would have shared with you?
Make sure you take time between classes to complete assignments and make the most of JumpStart. Also, take advantage of the additional training offered on the various shops and equipment.
How are things going with the business today? What’s on the horizon, and where do you hope to be in 5 years?
My business has been growing at a slow and steady pace (it’s still a side gig for me). I’m still doing a lot of initial work (product development, business development, etc.) and hope to be able to scale it up within a year or two.
What’s the most beneficial piece of advice you’ve received during your entrepreneurial journey?