Inventors from across the country converged on San Diego this week with the hopes of being discovered by one of a host of "as seen on TV" marketing firms gathered to talk shop.
For ten years, the Response Expo has called San Diego home, meeting this year at convention facilities at the Hilton Bayfront downtown. The event, which targets "performance-based marketers: anyone who measures, tracks, and monitors the results of their advertising campaigns," also drew 42 aspiring inventors pitching products in various stages of development.
The inventions ranged from the mundane (plastic bumpers that clip onto hangers to stop suit jackets or leather coats from drooping at the shoulders) to the seemingly already done (a trash-grabber converted to dog-poop scooper; clip-on cell-phone-speaker amplifiers; battery-charging cases). Among the inventors, a pair of San Diego locals stood out.
"I started with a hand-sketch in 2009, and in 2014 I brought a prototype to Dr. Silva to show her — I figured she would be my target market," said Frances Prado, who had just emerged from a high-stakes filmed pitch session with Telebrands, promoters of hundreds of infomercial-pitched products.
Prado and her partner, Melinda Silva, are seeking a national distributor for Hanging Secrets, a bra-and-lingerie organizer, which they've patented and have completed a 1000-unit production run.
"I loved it. I wanted to buy it but it wasn't available. So I invested in manufacturing," added Silva. "I'm happy to say the quality turned out excellent and we have 100 percent positive feedback from our clients."
The pair launched their brand, Ageless Beautiful Clever Creations, LLC, in late 2015.
"We launched the product in September 2015, and we attended the Minnesota Inventors Expo, where Hanging Secrets won a bronze medal in the most creative product category," continued Prado. "We also have two boutiques here in San Diego selling the product….
"Last night we won the pinnacle award here for best in show," Silva continued.
While the pair has sold only about 100 bra caddies so far and relies on donations to breast-cancer survivors as a cornerstone of their independent marketing, they're hopeful that being picked up by a powerhouse marketing company like Telebrands or one of the home-shopping channels will vault them to success.
Some inventors, though, aren't as far along in the process.
"This is a prototype — the production model will fold up to the size of a briefcase, and it'll weigh less than five pounds," Dion Thomson said of his Fulcrum Force, an all-in-one exercise machine that, Thomson explains, pits the user's body weight against them during a handful of resistance-training routines.
"I think there's limited product out there as far as resistance training," continued Thomson, who is currently marketing the device via a YouTube video. "You've got free weights, which are big and bulky, or universal machines — those take up a ton of space, too.
"I got a provisional patent about a year and a half ago, and the full patent is pending…. I’d like to get some big outfit that will see the value here to license and distribute it."