A former Nortel engineer is the inventor behind the Internet’s most viral pressure cooker.
Double Insight CEO Robert Wang first came up with Instant Pot in 2008. He’d previously been working in telecom startups after leaving Nortel’s scientific staff in 1998, before the tech bubble burst.
“The idea of Instant Pot really came out of personal needs,” Wang told BNN in an interview Thursday. “My wife and myself [were] both working full-time — fixing a dinner, especially a healthy dinner, is very challenging.”
The multi-functional pressure cooker that can even double as a yogurt maker became an online sensation, inspiring Internet communities dedicated to Instant Pot recipes, videos and tips on how to better use the appliance.
The Instant Pot 7-in-1 Multi-Functional Pressure Cooker was the best-selling item in the U.S. during last year’s Amazon Prime Day, according to Amazon.com. Though the product has gained a cult following, Wang didn’t market it using any traditional way of advertising.
“It's an innovative product,” he said when discussing his direct-to-consumer marketing approach. “We want to get to consumers directly so we can get the feedback from the consumers so that we can improve our products.”
Four iterations of Instant Pot have already hit markets, but the pressure cooker’s next two generations are rolling out later this year. Wang said he was inspired by his high-tech background on how to approach his product releases.
“Continued improvement is the approach from high-tech perspective and also consumers have been given us so many requests for new features,” he said. “That actually pushed us to develop new models along the years.”
In 2014, Double Insight launched a Bluetooth-enabled “smartcooker” that can be controlled using a mobile device. While the new Instant Pot might sound like it’s from science fiction film, Wang said they didn’t make it just “for the sake of being cool."
“[There’s] very simple steps to specify how long you want to cook it, what temperature, what pressure you want to cook it,” he said. “And it can be tailored for each recipe so you can cook to perfection.”