First, Build.... Make, Sell, Learn, Repeat

What is General Electric doing at a D2C conference? Read on.

Recall GE's 23-year-old slogan, "We Bring Good Things To Life." That's long gone but it is still, in a way, doing so.

Rick Hasselbeck, chief commercial officer at GE Appliances, told our Brand Insider Summit D2C, how his team is bringing good pizza to consumers. First, he made clear that the company is not really a part of GE. It was purchased two years ago by a Chinese company and its FirstBuild project lives at the University of Louisville, where it launches a dozen products a year.

The group of 16 has to break even. They are given no money. If they make money, they get the money back. These "makers," as they are called, are "nimble and scrappy," said Hasselbeck. "Anyone can come in off the streets with an idea."

One day, someone wanted to make a pizza oven. 

"We had to learn how to make really good dough, so we watched an Italian YouTube video. It was free."

Then, they built a digital pizza to measure temperatures inside ovens, and took it on the road across the United States. "We drove to all the famous pizza places" and downloaded data inside those ovens. Now, they could make New York-style pizza or Chicago-style pizza, using that data.

"It's not just about temperature," he said. "It's also about heat radiation and variability."

The $10,000 pizza oven is half the price of a wood-fired oven. It fits into a wall oven slot. FirstBuilt sells it through the Monogram brand. They are still made by college students in a micro factory.

Now, they're working on an indoor smoker for wings and ribs for $599 or less. They'll be crowd-funding it next year. "I've tried the ribs, and they are really good."

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