Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Onward and ….Two weeks later

So, when I arrive back home and tell my story to John, I say to him that I feel that will not be the last of it.  Two weeks later, Sarah calls me and informs me that the producers would like to submit our work to Sully.  Was I ecstatic! Naturally, she informs me that they do not have a CharBQ to pass on and that I must do so. Oddly enough, in that two week period, thanks to the Kennedy interview, we began to look for an author to partner with for an add-on cook book. We also added a smoker cover, beefed-up the handles and made some other manufacturing cost saving features.
We draft a letter, add pictures of CharBQ (version 2), a DVD video and one of the prototypes and mail it away. We then turn our attention to finding an author and finalizing the manufacturing costs.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Pitchmen Season 2: And the Winners are?

At first, I took the picture of the reveal (see picture), then I looked, no I examined, no I searched for my name or the product name, but to no avail. I could not find either on the board…Really??? Soon after, you can hear people screaming and laughing, crying, I searched again for my name. How can this be? Could they not see the value in this product? I went down the list, one by one, triple checking to make certain that I was not listed. 17 names and I was not one of them. 17 products, that were all small gadgets, from what I can tell. 17 names and none of the inventors that I mentioned were listed.
The film crew asked that after the reveal, those who were not selected need to leave the premises in order to start the next segment. I grabbed my CharBQ's, placed my CharBQ hat on and walked down the "green hall" while a camera man was on the opposite side, recoding my walk. When I reached the front, Peter was conducting "Rejected" interviews. He stops me, and asks me some question, and truth be told, I was still in shock of not being selected. He asked me, "how do I feel", at the time, numb, and my reply was close to the heart, reserved, yeah it should have been me, bla, bla, bla. I also answered, in a polite manner, congratulations on all who made to the next level. Peter then probed me and I stated, that I felt they made a mistake - that the CharBQ was loved by all. Peter then, off camera agreed, "I think they did too" Later than night, when I placed pen to paper on the plane and the decision had more time to sink in, my answers are more in line with, Were they on crack? Can I smoke what they were smoking? What were they thinking?
But I digress, when I finished my exit interview with Peter, I turned around and there was "Sully" shaking peoples hands and thanking the rejected inventors for coming. Naturally, I stepped up, shook his hand and took a picture (see picture). And my final thoughts on this topic? Any meeting or pitch, I will have a barbecue for demonstrating the CharBQ and at all costs, have my partner John attend.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Pitchmen Season 2: Waiting Game

After about a 10 minute wait, I sat down with Peter and had a one to one chat. Another surreal feeling, he would ask me a question and naturally I would answer. Then he would reiterate my answer and incorporate his question - ARGH! I just could not get that part in my mind. This was not a standard interview, you must repeat the question in the answer…TTQA! His last question was :how did you think your pitch went?" and my response was that "I believe I did a good job, that the crew asked me where can they buy a CharBQ". Peter smiled and said, "I thought the same thing".
So, it was roughly 10 am, finished my pitch, my post interview and I walked around mingling with other inventors. We were informed that the decision would be announced at noon so we were free go to have lunch. The funny thing was, although in the email, we were informed of a strict start time and that an end time would be imposed, neither was true and in the end, moist of those selected to go one were the late comers. So now, there were about 50 different inventors and I got to meet with the inventor of the Lawn Mower Caddy and then there was Derek, the rim bling bicycle inventor, and there was James who invented enzymes to keep the drains clean and another who invented a gadget to prevent toilet paper from unrolling.
Mark and I took lunch together at a local Cheese Steak store, when we got back to the studio, Kennedy (the chick from MTV - the VJ - Yeah, I did not know who she was either) was conducting interviews (see picture). We watched her crew move from product to product, Mark and I then got in line to get more product exposure.
My interview with Kennedy was interesting, she was certainly no fan of the CharBQ, specifically charcoal cooking. At one point, she stated that the convenience of the gas grill and the difficulties of judging how to cook meat on charcoal were the positives/negatives. I, naturally agreed about the convenience of cooking, and that growing up we all enjoyed the smoky flavors and today, with all of the reality cooking shows, flavor was in. In the end, she was no a fan of charcoal cooking which equated to a no sale. However, I came out of that interview with an idea to offer a charcoal cook book to go with the CharBQ!
Noon came and went and all that occurred was another announcement to state that in 30 minutes they would announce the winners. Time marched on until finally at 2 o'clock, the crew brought out a large picture frame with a black sheet covering the chosen ones (see picture). After 30 more minutes of positioning the frame, the cameras and the inventors, they were finally ready to reveal. Donna, provided an emotional speech, thanking the inventors for their courage to make their inventions a reality, the dedication, commitment that it takes to get to this point and for the effort made in showing up. This "off-the-cuff" speech was recorded three times before the final reveal (see picture).

Friday, March 19, 2010

Pitchmen Season 2: Show time

I followed the direction given to me by Donna (the person in charge),to say the product name three times, "CharBQ, CharBQ, Do you CharBQ?" then state my name. Now I am asked to pitch and nervously I enter my first paragraph, fumble and alter the "convenience" section and end with the "adjustable" section. That was when I went blank!! I could not recall the next line for my life, I apologized three time before my mind opened up and moved. I moved along the speech and concluded without incident. I then went through the stat's and the Flash of Genius, then Donna asked me to stand up the CharBQ with charcoals and to reiterate how the product functions. When I ended, Donna, the photographer and the sound man all wanted to know where to buy one. That made me feel good. I was off to meet with Peter, for my post interview.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pitchmen Season 2: On Site

After a few minutes, I get out of my rental car and I walk over to introduce myself. The first person that I meet on this journey was Mark Anthony, he invented the Auto Contact (www.theautocontact.com). He has had this invention for over 2 years, managed to get into a few good accounts and would like to get broader exposure. The next person to park along side us was Amanda, the non-paid PA! We spoke with her for a few minutes and around 7:15 am, Madelyn, the owner arrived to open the doors to her studio. Needless to say, the casting call did not start at 8 am sharp, more like 9 ish…. And by then I had meet a few more inventors.
Sarah set up a table in the garden and asked the inventors (about 20 at this time) to line up. I managed to get myself into the 5th position, while Mark made third and the others randomly spread out throughout. Very cool and strange. I get up to the desk, state my name, and then I'm give three sets of documents to "read" and sign. I think if John and Linda knew that I signed without reading they would have me committed! After signing, I hand Sarah a package that contained a DVD, pictures and a write-up of the invention. After about 20 minutes, they called the first 5 people and we followed one of the PA's to the audition rooms. We performed the walk three times, the camera man needed three different angles and so all of us need to do perform the walk and hold the items in the same order/manner. I this is cool! We walked on what they called the "green hall" which was simply an ally between the building and the side fence that had grass turf on the floor. Once inside the small foyer, the five of us were instructed to read the rules of the audition (see picture). At one point, I was the last one in the foyer (see picture) and naturally I was nervous and exhilarated and anxious and scared and I thought, I could use John's input and encouragement right about now! Then the door opened and I was asked to come in….

Monday, March 15, 2010

Pitchmen Season 2: Night Before

From late November until January John and I have slowly been working on finding partners to manufacture our product and on January 20th 2010, Sara Burns from the Original Production company reaches out to me. She works for the production company that produces Pitchmen and other fine reality shows. She requested pictures, videos and information on the CharBQ. Naturally, we complied and shortly there after, we deliver as requested. Then on January 25th, she send off another email asking us if we are going to attend the "will call" for season two of the Pitchmen on January 29th… four days to plan and prepare!!! After speaking with my wife Linda and John, we decide that I should attend and do my best. And so, the following day, Tuesday evening, I book my flight, hotel and car. My flight leaves on Thursday evening at 4 pm and arrive in LA at 8:30 pm.
I guess you are wondering why John could not attend? Two issues, 1. he, and his family, had just got back from a week long vacation 2. work obligations and a court filling due on Friday.
On Thursday, I prepare to leave and shut down my PC and just before I am set to shut down, precisely 1:28, an email from Sara arrives, asking that our pitches include statistics, people that might purchase and the flash of genius. I quickly as my writing team (John and Linda) to help me out with some text and so by the time I boarded the airplane I had additions to my pitch. Now it was up to me to learn the additions.
On Thursday, January 28th, I arrive in NC, yes I took a two leg flight, not ideal, I know. Anyway, by the first leg, I had the new addition roughly memorized. 45 minutes later, I board my second flight to LA where we arrive 30 minutes early! I make my way towards Hertz, rent my Subaru SUV and head towards Burbank. I make may way to North Hollywood to the Ramada hotel next to Bob Hope Airport. This took me 45 minutes and when I arrive, I check in, go to my room and unpack. I prepare my clothes, toiletries and the CharBQ. I set the alarm clock for 5 am, my iPhone for the same time and I'm in bed by 10:15. I force myself to go to sleep and I turn off the TV at 10:30. By 4 am, my body and mind woke me soul up and I began my routine, all the while reciting the pitch to myself. By 5 am, I checked out of the hotel and made my way to Madelyn Dance Studio, approximate 10 minutes away. I scope the area out for people and parking - no people and a lot of parking spots. Good. I now make my way to the local Starbucks for breakfast. After my meal, I head back to the studio and find that someone has parked in one of the many parking spots. I glance at the time, it's barely 6 am!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Meeting Aftermath, Part 2:

In my previous email with both Kenny and Charles, I had come to learn that they had a meeting on Monday, to discuss the CharBQ and other projects. With that information I waited a week before reaching out to Kenny. Then on November 13th, after placing calls and emails into Kenney, he informed me that Charles is no longer providing Industrial design services. That he is changing his business model to software apps for the smartphone platforms. With that, they cannot take on a project like ours, however, once we have a manufactured product, we should feel free to give them a call. And that is how this segment ends with Kevin Harrington. We are hopeful that when we have the tentative manufacturing in place, that we can secure a deal with Kevin. For now, plan B.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Website, Part 2: www.CharBQ.com

On November 9th, on our way into New York City for the IHMRS 2009 trade show for Penguin Bottling Company, John and I gravitate our discussion towards the CharBQ. We begin to conceptualize the YouTube video and our philosophy on these videos. Our plan was to have the CharBQ take a back seat to the comedy of the video. In doing so, we decided to Google the owners of the domain name CharBQ.com. The last time I did this research, there was a brick and mortar Baltimore company that sold barbecues who owned the site. Today, in our ride down, I discover that the name is up for grabs and when we arrive at our destination in New York, I secure the rights to CharBQ.com.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Meeting Aftermath, Part 1:

Needless to say, from September 30th until November 13th, the day we pick up the tail end of the Kevin Harrington story, John and I have been busy conceptualizing the "and more" portion of the product. While both John and I do not agree with Kevin, our attitude was to deliver the goods. This project, for us, was to get cash in our pockets and justify us as inventors. In the days after our meeting with Kenny, John and I had settling on a few items - a plan B.
During this time, we had concluded that if Kevin did not pick up the CharBQ project, we would take it on our own. We would create the prototypes, search for the manufacturing, look for angel investors and develop the YouTube and other videos/infomercials. We also would go back to the original concept of the CharBQ, as an insert and not a stand alone product. Perhaps, version two we would offer the adjustable legs and grills.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Reprise: Home Depot:

We was a giddy as school children leaving BlueWater media. We tore down the barbecue, collapsed the CharBQ, packed up the PT Cruiser and drove away. Back to Home Depot to attempt to return the BBQ. In the car, we could not believe our luck, could it be, could our luck have finally turned? Within fifteen minutes we arrive at the Home Depot store, with receipt in hand and a back story that my friend already owned a BBQ and that he did not need this unit. True to their return policy, they accepted the unit without delay and on our way out, we took the charcoal bag (we did not return this) and placed it next to the carts for whom ever finds it.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Kevin Harrington-Part 2:

During our time with Kevin, he brought in his secretary, a TV personality named Mark and one more to get a feeling for the CharBQ and its appeal. We performed our demonstration on the table, its ease of scalability and then outside, on the BBQ we had setup. It is during our indoor meeting that Kevin makes some strong recommendations regarding the CharBQ. His philosophy on product must contain these three line items, 1. Magically transformational, 2. Highly demonstrable, 3. he can sell it to anyone. He is not a fan of selling niche products. And so with those statements, he would like to have the unit be a stand alone, adjustable, portable BBQ and have the "but wait, there's more" it also converts your existing gas BBQ to a charcoal BBQ. Naturally, at the meeting, John and I both agree on this new development and by the time we arrive at home we have two methods of accomplishing this.
In the end, he turns to Kenny and informs him to get us set up with an NDA, asks us to leave a prototype behind and to get in touch with Charles, from Sparks Lab. After which, Kevin stands up, extends his hand as states "let's do some business together". And with that, for the next thirty minutes. we wrap things up with Kenny, sign an NDA with BlueWater Media and prepared an NDA with Charles. The meeting went better than we could have hoped!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Kevin Harrington-Part 1:

Kevin walks into the space and by this time, John and I have already pitched the CharBQ to Kenny, the intern and another colleague of Kenny's. Kenny passes his chair to Kevin, who was dressed in a collared shirt and jeans. He wasted no time introducing himself to us and extending his hand. We shake hands and introduce ourselves, he then takes a seat, opposite us and to the right of Kenny. Having done his homework on us, he begins by stating how much he adores stone crabs, knowledgeable of their season and how they compare to the blue crabs in MD.
Kevin spent an hour and a half with us, discussing his philosophies of the business, some of his current projects that he is working on and the CharBQ project. Here is a man, worth millions of dollars, working on multiple project, including projects from the TV show, Shark Tank and he takes 90 minutes of his life to meet with two goof ball inventors from MD.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

BlueWater Media-The Tour:

Kenny takes us on a tour of the facility, he walks past pre and post productions and discusses the multiple projects and experience that BlueWater Media has in this field. He states the connection with the big TV shows and personalities, like HSN and QVC. How they have many years of experience in producing infomercials, managing call centers and the customer experience. We walk past a few offices, one in particular, where Disney Audio was being recorded, caught my eye. He informed us of the importance of having such collaboration between the two companies and the benefits of the integration.

We continue along a pre determined path, on our way to the main lot where most of the infomercials are filmed. During the walk, I begin to have a fear of the meeting that I orchestrated. Here we are, in Florida, after spending $300 on air fare and $90 on a car rental only to have someone pitch me the facilities and capabilities of BlueWater Media. While I was ware of what BlueWater Media had to offer, did, somehow, my intentions get lost in the translation?

A fear that ran down the back of my spine, of what might have occurred? Was I clear on what this meeting was going to accomplish? I thought I was clear with Kenny when I informed him that we were looking for funding or a partnership for our product. That we did not have the cash flow to fund the project or the fact that we did not know anyone in the manufacturing. It was only later did I understand that the tour was intended to display the possibilities of what BlueWater Media had to offer to its clients and that we could be their client.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Pre-Meeting Setup:

We arrive at the one story non discrete looking building (we had used Google streets and examined pictures online to get an idea of the building size and layout) about 45 minutes before 2 pm. We quickly opened the hatchback, removed the BBQ and begin to assemble the barbecue. We walked over to the sidewalk and placed the barbecue under a shady tree, assembled the CharBQ added the charcoals and placed the unit inside the barbecue. Once we were happy with the location and look, we got back into to the car, and turned the AC up high to cool off. In the car we went over our game plan, once again, we discussed what the likely scenario of the meeting and what where the possible outcomes. We were certain that a deal would not be presented today and that the likely hood of leaving a unit behind was a possibility. Should the need to leave behind the unit was presented, we would have to ask for an NDA. We also anticipated that Kevin would join the meeting for a few minutes to hear the pitch and leave it to Kenny and Bobby to finish the meeting.
At 1:40, we got out of the car, I proceed to remove my shirt, open my carryon and take out a freshly pressed shirt. All clean and pressed for the meeting. We promptly walk in the door at 1:45 pm and announce our arrival to the receptionist who informs us that Kenny will be with us in a moment. Fifteen minutes go by at 2 pm, Kenny walks up and introduces himself to us. I take the lead and introduce my partner John and myself. We inform him that we have a demo BBQ outside the building ready for the meeting. He responded enthusiastically, the proceeded to give us a tour of the facility, prior to us sit down and discussing any of the particulars.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Home Depot:

We arrive at the Clear Water Home Depot around a quarter past noon and we immediately walked to the BBQ section. As expected, in Florida, they have not taken down their BBQ section or scaled back the offerings in the least bit. We examine each demo unit and in less than 10 minutes we had narrowed down our selection based on price and size. I then turn and find a helpful Home Depot woman and I politely ask her if they have this particular BBQ in stock? She replies positively. I then inform her that we just flew in from DC to see our friend who we have not seen in some time and we wanted to buy it for him as a house warming gift. We then ask her if they had any units pre built? To our surprise she states that we can take this unit - the demo unit.
Merrily we wheel the BBQ along with a bag of charcoal to the cash register and out the door. We practically skip down the parking lot to the PT Cruiser discussing how we have just saved ourselves at least an hour of build time! We get to the hatchback and realize that we should have rented a larger car.

For the next 15 minutes we analyze and discuss the best way to jab a 5 lb turkey into a 4.5 lb pan! We decide to remove the back seats out and take down some loose barbecue parts. We then gently and strategically proceed to jamb the BBQ into the small opening. After about 5 minutes of inserting the unit, we strategically replace the folded back seats into the back along with some loose BBQ parts. Thankfully the meeting place is only 15 minutes away, and that means that the unit will not experience too much movement.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Meeting:

The day of the meeting, we caught a 9 am flight into Tampa Florida that brought us there by 11 am. Being betting men, we figured that should we lose one baggage, we would have the other on hand. And so, we each brought along one carry on luggage and each carry on contained one complete set of the CharBQ grill. The reason was simple, if the TSA denied us the ability to carry the stainless steel product onto the Southwest airplane, our backup plan was to check the luggage. With checking luggage there came uncertainly, would the bags would arrive on time and in one piece? In the end, no one questioned the CharBQ and both were carry-on bags were allowed on the plane.
After a non descriptive flight, discussing, yet again, the game plan, we arrived at our Florida airport destination. We went to the car rental area and retrieved our small PT Cruiser. We then drove to the local Home Depot for the remaining props.