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How Instant Pot Became a Viral Phenomenon

Instant PotInstant Pot is a line of a few models of electric multicookers that has gone viral, a true cooking sensation. Yet in spite of the phenomenal popularity of its product, the Kanata, Ontario, Canada-based company has only about 50 employees.

The Instant Pot is hardly the fanciest appliance on the market; several models sell for under $100. But it has upended the home-cooking industry. During this year’s Black Friday sales, the Instant Pot was among the Top 5 items sold by Amazon and Target, and among the Top 3 best-sellers at Kohl’s. The company, which is privately held, doesn’t release sales data, but said it was “very happy” with Instant Pot’s sales, which have been more than doubling every year since 2011. Sales of electric multicookers have risen 79 percent in the past year to more than $300 million, according to NPD Group, a market research firm.

I went to Kanata to get a peek behind the scenes of the Instant Pot phenomenon and meet its creator: Robert Wang, who invented the device and serves as chief executive of Double Insight, its parent company. What I found was a remarkable example of a new breed of 21st-century start-up — a homegrown hardware business with only around 50 employees that raised no venture capital funding, spent almost nothing on advertising, and achieved enormous size primarily through online word-of-mouth. It is also a testament to the enormous power of Amazon, and its ability to turn small businesses into major empires nearly overnight. — Kevin Roose, The New York Times

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