Business

Inventors pitch for infomercial glory

Top Dog Direct founder Bill McAlister has mined some promising product pitches. Below, local inventors awaited the opportunity to present their ideas.

Photos by David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Top Dog Direct founder Bill McAlister has mined some promising product pitches.

Boston was the site of yet another business pitch contest Thursday.

But wait, there’s more!

Advertisement

This wasn’t your typical Shark Tank knockoff featuring a bunch of high-tech whiz kids attempting to woo venture capitalists with their disruptive, gamified mobile apps. This was a stream of about 20 amateur inventors convinced that their product is the next as-seen-on-TV sensation. Winning ideas would have a chance to be featured in one of those loud infomercials that dot cable TV channels.

There was the 9-minute Marinator, the Pooch Bagz for cleaning up dog poop and, of course, a fitness contraption guaranteed to give you six-pack abs.

Get Talking Points in your inbox:
An afternoon recap of the day’s most important business news, delivered weekdays.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

There were even some inventions so brilliant that their creators wouldn’t talk about them publicly, lest some copycat steal the idea.

George Chandler of Hansen came with nothing but a vision in his head and a pen in his hand. He used a college-ruled notepad to sketch out something for the three-member judging panel that onlookers couldn’t see.

What did he draw on that page?

Advertisement

“I can’t tell you that,” Chandler said. “The judges said it was pretty good.”

The pitch contest was sponsored by Top Dog Direct of Trevose, Pa., the company behind familiar infomercial products Mighty Putty and Ding King. Like those TV spots, the competition was no elaborate production. Top Dog set up a booth at the Small Business Expo at the Hynes Convention Center. There was no stage and no microphone, but no fee either — not even shipping and handling.

It doesn’t take a fancy setup to discover a big seller, said founder Bill McAlister, an Acton native. McAlister travels the world, attending trade shows, in search of what he calls “unique things that make your life easier.”

Pitch contests are his newest scouting strategy. The first one in Philadelphia in March yielded the BeActive brace for relieving back pain, which is already on TV and in stores. Of the 20 or so pitches, McAlister said a few were promising enough to follow up with their inventors.

Callum Borchers can be reached at callum.borchers@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @callumborchers.
Loading comments...
Real journalists. Real journalism. Subscribe to The Boston Globe today.
You're reading  1 of 5 free articles.
Get UNLIMITED access for only 99¢ per week Subscribe Now >
You're reading1 of 5 free articles.Keep scrolling to see more articles recomended for you Subscribe now
We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles.
Continue reading by subscribing to Globe.com for just 99¢.
 Already a member? Log in Home
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.