July 13, 2010

Inventor's Day at Telebrands

Today I attended Telebrands’ "Inventor’s Day" as a member of the press. I hadn't been to the event before, so I was curious to check it out in person.

Most of the media will report the event the same way. The quirky people and odd inventions will get all the press. But I'm taking a different approach I think is more appropriate for my readers.

Below are 10 items that were presented during the morning session. Let's all pretend we're on AJ's panel of decision-makers and have to help him make the call. Your choices are "pass," "fail" or "maybe." What would you decide? At the end, I will share AJ's opinion and my own.

  1. Woofy Mitt (see above, upper right). This item was presented by two ladies from Lake Tahoe. It is essentially a better oven mitt. It goes over your first two fingers and your thumb and allows for better dexterity than a mitt. "In the service industry, everybody loves it," one of the ladies said.
  2. Split Decision Blanket. Some people come well prepared to pitch a DRTV company. These ladies dressed in pajamas, brought an air mattress and even played a testimonials reel they had put together. The press ate it up. The item is a blanket for married couples that splits evenly down the middle if someone tries to hog the blanket (it's held together with magnets).
  3. Double Bake Pan. A dad and son from Michigan presented this item. It allows you to bake a cake and cupcakes in the same pan at the same time.
  4. Sock Angel. Another well-prepared presenter, this lady from Chicago had even mocked up her own packaging. The product is a mesh bag with a zipper that keeps a pair of socks together in the wash. It also has a protruding label that is used to identify the socks by color, owner, etc.
  5. Canned Food Press. A couple from Massachusetts pitched this item, which opens and drains canned meat. You simply put the can in the device and press down. The main use is for removing the water from cans of tuna. According to the inventor, some two millions cans of tuna are sold per day. He also revealed that he lost 20 pounds on a diet that involved eating lots of tuna, and the daily annoyance of pressing his tuna dry by hand is what drove him to invent the product.
  6. Hidden TP (see above, upper left). Toilet paper rolls are unsightly and invite kids and pets to make a mess, so this couple from Indianapolis invented a toilet paper storage unit you install in your wall. It keeps the roll out of sight until you need it, and it comes in several sports and kids' themes. The inventors said it sold like crazy outside a Colts game last season.
  7. Bottle Buddy. From the former home of LeBron James and the current home of the National Inventors Hall of Fame Museum and, according to AJ, deep-fried pickles (Akron, Ohio) comes this device for getting every last ounce of value out of your purchases. Here's a summary version of the pitch: Hate throwing away that detergent bottle when you just know there's more product inside? Simply put the bottle upside-down on this special stand and let gravity go to work. You'll be amazed at how much product the special cup collects in just 12 hours! The inventor said she left a bottle of lotion on the stand for 24 hours and got a full collection cup, or what she calculated was 13.8% of the bottle's contents she might otherwise have thrown away.
  8. Quick Alarm. If someone breaks the window of your car, you may learn the hard way that most car alarms won't go off. The normal solution is something the inventor called a "bump alarm," but he said they cost $1,200 or more. This is the $19.99 version of the product. It goes off when there's a loud noise or when it's bumped. The sensitivity can be adjusted. The inventor is from Houston and owns 13 electronic video game stores. He had some mall pitchmen sell the item at kiosks one weekend, and it blew out.
  9. Steam Genie Pro (see above, lower right). This item keeps a section of mirror clear when the rest gets steamed up from the shower. It's a circle that simply clings to the glass by static attraction. You peel it off when you're done showering, and then you can shave, put on makeup, etc. The couple who pitched the item brought a clothes steamer and mirror to demonstrate that the item works, which is does. The product was also completely developed with finished packaging and even a storage case.
  10. Picture Pages (see above, lower left). Last but not least is this item from a couple based near Ann Arbor, Michigan. In a nutshell, it's a hanging picture album. The pages are embedded with magnets, so the album stays open to the place you want. This one even comes with a slogan: "As life changes, you turn the pages."

OK, so what do you think? Which ones should go to the next stage, and which ones shouldn't? Any "maybe" items?

In an interview during lunch, AJ expressed definite interest in two items: Steam Genie Pro and Picture Pages. He was on the fence about Woofy Mitt, Hidden TP and the Quick Alarm.

As for me, I would have asked for more information on just two items: The Quick Alarm and Picture Pages. I think the former item has many more applications than the inventor mentioned and the latter item is just one of those products women will like. That said, only Quick Alarm solves a real problem, and it's a prevention item.

Feel free to post a comment and let me know what you think.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jordan,

    I've gone thru a few of your older posts and was wondering if you've ever done some 'back testing' of your rating vs. actual product performance.

    So a new product comes out, you dissect it and give it a number score and also a 'likely to succeed' or 'not likely'.

    Have you then gone back 3-6 months later to compare how well the products is doing on your charts?

    What sort of score do you give your own ranking system?