Before a TeleBrands product gets tagged with a snappy name, before its virtues are lauded in the breathless tones of an infomercial, before it's whisked to eager customers who've made the first of two easy payments, it has to survive the scrutiny of a panel that regularly convenes around the conference table in A.J. Khubani's corner office.
With Khubani seated at the head, a congenial group of four vice presidents and a pair of youthful product-developers gave a few items the sniff test last week, in search of the next million-seller. Finance vice president Bob Barnett made the first pitch.
"I don't know about you, but I've got a broom closet at home that's full of stuff," he says, neatly dispatching with step one: Identify a common problem.
The proffered solution: the Fold-a-Broom, a collapsible broom stored inside a dustpan that's being marketed on the Web. (While some TeleBrands products are created in-house, many are licensed from inventors and smaller companies.) They watch the site's demonstration video, and Khubani opens the floor for opinions.
The last presentation is Khubani's, and he leads with several assertions. Vast numbers of people watch TV, and many watch in bed. And too often, that presents issues.
"Personally I can never get comfortable," he says. "You're stacking up pillows; your back starts to hurt, your neck starts to hurt."
But what if you could lie flat on your back, he asks, producing a pair of glasses with a built-in refracting mirror. They go around the table, producing a satisfying buzz of curiousity.
"People will see that and say, I've got to try it," says Iler. "It's the wow factor."
That doesn't mean people will take it seriously enough to cough up $20, points out Zendell. But the glasses have made a small splash, and while no final decision is made, there's a gleam in Khubani's eye that might mean they're headed for a small screen near you.
Photo by Telebrands.