Inventor Christopher Johnson of Wilton will see his Rapid Ramen cookers on the shelves of 1,000 Safeway stores nationwide by June, so he's ramping up production.
"I'm doing the paperwork, ordering the product," he said. "It's almost a 14,000-unit order."
The Pleasanton-based grocer will use the microwaveable bowl as part of its back-to-school campaign, Johnson said, and that's a perfect fit because college students are some of his most faithful customers.
The 34-year-old Johnson ate plenty of Top Ramen while a student at the University of California, Davis, but he found microwaving them to be a pain and created the bowl to ease the process. His cooker is shaped like a block of ramen. It has a fill line to ensure water won't spill, and it has handles that remain cool to the touch.
Johnson's Rapid Ramen cookers are also sold at the Natomas Walmart, at rapidramen.com and amazon.com, as well as in bookstores at UC Davis and the University of Southern California. He estimates that he has sold 1,000 a week since launching in November, but he added that sales exploded so quickly he hasn't had a chance to do much calculating.
"Just last week, Rapid Ramen noodle bowls were the No. 1 selling microwave accessory on Amazon.com," said Johnson, whose shipment of 219 bowls to the Natomas Walmart sold out in nine days.
He's prepping now for next month's International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago, where 30,000 buyers will be checking out products to add to their inventories. Johnson, by the way, also runs a recruiting firm, the Johnson Group, which received the award for small business of the year from the Sacramento Metro Chamber on Friday.
Sold on HomeZada
The co-founders of El Dorado Hills-based HomeZada.com didn't know it, but they couldn't have chosen a more opportune time to present their product to executives in the Denver headquarters of real estate franchiser Re/Max.
HomeZada does many things, including storing a home inventory and important documents, offering tips on how to prepare and avoid casualties, evaluating spending, and helping to manage any home improvement projects. All the data are stored on a network that can be accessed from any computer or smartphone, just in case of a catastrophe.
Wildfires raged in Colorado just last year, and the Re/Max family had staff whose homes had been damaged, so there were plenty of people who immediately grasped the software's usefulness.
HomeZada co-founders Elizabeth Dodson, John Bodrozic and David Ing also had just launched a version of the software geared toward real estate professionals. It allows agents and brokers to embed their branding into the software and then give HomeZada as a closing gift to clients.
"In the world of real estate," Dodson explained, "photographs and logos are predominantly the two major things that buyers and sellers remember when they're referring their agent to someone else, so enabling them to include their picture and all the other social media as well as their contact information gives a lot of avenues where people can contact them. ... It shows up very much like a business card inside the application."
Sold on HomeZada's functionality and long-term branding possibilities, the leaders at Re/Max's HQ recently agreed to introduce HomeZada to their network of more than 90,000 agents in nearly 90 countries. It's a huge victory for the tiny startup in El Dorado Hills, Dodson said, and she hopes it will be the first of many partnerships in the real estate, home improvement and insurance industries.