The parties already exist for make-up, sex toys and Tupperware. But now, there is a buying party for men: Man Cave Worldwide "meatings."
The company, started by a 2010 University of Minnesota graduate, offers men what women have had for years. With a Man Cave adviser, men can host their friends for a barbecue, drink free beer, learn how to grill and sell products.
"Guys have been needing this for a long time," said Mike Krueger, who hosted a "meating" Thursday at his home in Eden Prairie.
The market demand is evident in the figures. Man Cave founder and University entrepreneurship graduate Nick Beste expects the company to net $2 million in revenue this year.
A small portion of that came from Krueger’s party, where almost 50 of his friends joined him to grill. In total, they spent more than $1,000 on Man Cave grilling utensils and food. The company offers both its advising and sales services, as well as products, including 33 flavors of brats – beer, apple and fajita among them.
Krueger, 52, was charged nothing for the food and beer at his party, and got 20 percent, or $200, in free Man Cave products for hosting.
"Meating" attendee Alan Ploetz, a relative of Krueger’s neighbor, suggested broadening the product selection to include tools and cigars.
Friends from the gym, his office and the neighborhood crowded Krueger’s backyard pool area for the testosterone-fueled gathering Thursday.
Away from their families, the men relaxed and shared aging health problems and dirty jokes.
"It’s got a good buzz, and I hope to get one too," Ploetz said of the meating.
Dennis Kronberg, a friend from the gym, said the concept was "brilliant."
Illustrating the grand array of ages at the party, 41-year-old Kronberg brought along his friend Jake Thompson, a 2010 College of Biological Sciences graduate of the University.
"Men are men, no matter what age," said Kronberg, who has his own man cave at home — the "Garage Mahal."
Man Cave adviser Jim Harvey, who makes commission from purchases at the gatherings, was both salesman and grilling expert at Krueger’s home.
Harvey has been with the company for three months and joined because it was a natural fit – he and his wife grill 90 percent of the time anyway.
"People pay me to drink beer and eat brats and mingle — how much better can it get?" Harvey said.
The idea for the company came to Beste after a grilling family get-together, he said. An uncle was demonstrating grilling techniques, and he wanted a way to combine this with making a profit.
"It just kind of clicked," Beste said. "It’s kind of like Pampered Chef … nobody does that for guys. Maybe we should."
Beste started the company with long-time entrepreneur partner Kevin Carlow. The two had numerous ventures under their belts before Man Cave, including the "U Guide," a campus guide distributed to first-year students at the University and nine other colleges.
Profits from advertisements in these publications helped fund Man Cave, Beste said.
Samantha White, a consultant with Pure Romance — a company with a similar model to Man Cave but for sex toys — said the concept makes sense.
"We’re women, and we target products for women," she said. "They’re men, and they target products men would enjoy."
Man Cave currently holds contracts with 820 advisers like Harvey in 47 states, Beste said.
The company’s exponential growth is clear when comparing last July’s revenue to this month’s. While it made $5,000 in July 2009, Beste said, Man Cave is on track to make $150,000 by the end of this month.
The success of Man Cave may be attributed to the shifting work force roles, White said.
"It’s been men’s world out there," she said. Now that the workforce is more gender equal, these home parties are not just for women.
Krueger, whose son is a member of a University fraternity, said he plans to incorporate Man Cave products into tailgating.
The company’s major clientele is 30- to 50-year-old men with families, Beste said, and fraternities have not yet been customers.
"I’d be really interested to see what would happen" when incorporating greek life, he said.
Despite the company’s name, women have also made up a portion of its workforce. An estimated 7 percent of the 820 advisers are women, who can often sell better than men, Beste said.
Northeast Minneapolis based-Man Cave Worldwide’s headquarters employs 10 staff, many of whom are recent University graduates like Beste, he said.
"A lot of guys have seen their wives go to these home parties," Beste said. "Guys also, I think, are looking for a reason to get away from their wife and kids for a little bit.
"This is a reason for them to say, ‘Honey, I can’t come home tonight — I’ve got to go to a meating.’"