How a Lost Skillet Led To a Multi-Million-Dollar Business
We sit down with Omar Rada, the founder of cookware brand Misen. With 15,000+ happy customers in 2 years of business, Rada shares the story of how it all started.
“Hey buddy, can I borrow your skillet?”
Omar Rada didn’t hesitate to lend his favourite skillet to his friend for a Super Bowl party. The next week, his friend called with bad news. He had lost the skillet.
Rada searched online to replace it. The $300 price tag (for an All-Clad 12-inch skillet) gave him sticker shock. He had received the pan as a gift and loved cooking with it. It yielded better-tasting food than his other mediocre pans, and it made cooking fun. But he hadn’t realized that quality cookware came with such a hefty price tag.
He quickly gave up on buying a replacement skillet. However, the incident planted the seeds of a business idea: to make (and sell) beautiful, high-performing kitchen products at honest and attainable prices. He would sell online, bypassing distributors and retailers, and thus be able to source the highest-quality materials yet keep prices low for end consumers.
So Rada quit his start-up job and started working on his first product: The Chef’s Knife ($65)
Their secret? They operate leanly, sell directly to their customers online, and simply choose not to mark up their products like crazy.
“The perfect knife,” Rada says, “is incredibly sharp and feels comfortable in the hand.” He tried to achieve this by angling The Chef’s Knife’s blades at a rare 15 degrees (compared to 25 degrees in most knives), using Japanese steel (which keeps the blades sharper for longer), and incorporating a sloped bolster that makes the knife easy to hold and forces the user to use a correct cutting grip.
The Chef’s Knife was a success. The Kickstarter campaign he launched raised $1.1 million in 30 days, with more than 13,000 backers.
Rada’s knife also got the nod from experts, including award-winning chef and writer J. Kenji López-Alt. He called the Misen knife “the holy grail of chef’s knives,” and said that the $65 knife could easily go head to head with his $180 Misono UX-10 and $120 Wüstof.
Two years later, Misen launched their next product line, Misen Cookware. They raised more than $600,000 for their skillets, sauciers, saute pans and stock pots.
OK, so Misen’s story is incredible. But how are their products?
In short: we don’t know how we’ve ever cooked without them. And the prices are so accessible that you can often get three items for the price of one from respected brands such as Misono and Wüstof. A no-brainer.