HOUSTON — Many of the most innovative gadgets sold in America today are speciality items -- generally marketed through extravagant late-night TV commercials. These items also are sold through bulk mail advertisements that use the slogan “as seen on TV!” The business can generate big profits for those who come up with successful products.
TV ads offer U.S. viewers all kinds of unconventional products like the Bacon Bowl -- a device that molds fried bacon into an edible container.
It is probably safe to say that nobody really needs a Bacon Bowl or any of the other products advertised like this, but they do offer a level of convenience that appeals to a lot of people.
Another simple product is aimed at parents of small children who tend to spill things.
There is the Eggie -- which addresses the plight of those who hate to peel the shells off hard-boiled eggs -- and apparently, there are a lot of them. Six million boxes of this product have been sold, much to the delight of Betsy Kaufman, who came up with the idea at her home in Houston.
"You just crack an egg, like that, and then you put it into the Eggie," she said. After being boiled, the eggs are easy to extract, cut and combine with other food items.
But Kaufman did not develop the Eggie as it appears today, nor did she create a prototype, do a patent search, find a manufacturer or develop a marketing plan.
"A creative idea hit my brain and I followed through and submitted it, that is all I did," she said.
Kaufman submitted her basic idea along with a simple sketch and a $25 fee to North Carolina-based EdisonNation, a company that helps develop and market such products.
The company takes a good portion of the product earnings as its fee. Kaufman said this is a better option for inventors, however, than trying to go it alone.
"They are bleeding money, getting a patent and a patent attorney, and that process can take years," she said.
There are a number of online forums for inventors that offer many of the same services, but Kaufman said EdisonNation suited her, and her success has created the urge to come up with another idea.
"Then the bug hits you, you are driving down the street and you are thinking, 'Oh, this would be a good idea, I had this luck with Eggies, so sure.' But then you get a big X mark through it -- it is not chosen. My brain may have only one Eggies in it," she said.
Based on market research, Kaufman has helped to create an Eggies 2, with a simpler design, and all she has to do now is wait to see how much profit it will generate.