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ABC's American Inventor - Episode 7 Season 2 Live Blog and Show Recap

American Inventor Show Recap

Good evening, all. I'm back after a hiatus last week due to some family issues, but, rest assured, I'm ready to blog tonight. So tonight on ABC's American Inventor we have our six finalists and, finally, it's up to America to vote! We've heard what the judged have to say and now we get to give our two cents on who we think deserves the $1,000,000. I don't know about the rest of you, but this is what I've been waiting for all season! Get your dialing fingers ready! Tonight is the night.

p.s. Don't forget it's two hours!

Part 1:

So tonight we get to sit in on the focus groups, where all the inventors have to work and re-work their inventions with the $50,000 they won in their respective cities. It should be interesting to see how the inventions evolve with some focused work and financial backing. We have quite a spread of inventions--everything from a bike rack to a backless bra--so this is where we start to see what has hope and what doesn't. Let's recap the 6 finalists:

Elaine Cato -- the 6-in-1Backless Bra: Bra without a backstrap to allow full chested women to wear low back shirts and dresses.

Denise & George Tucker -- EZT4U: tea brewing system for conventional coffee makers.

Ricky DeRennaux - Custom Build Racers: race cars, airplains and other vehicles made from regular, folded paper but work with small motors.

Craig Forest and David Moeller - The Claw: pressurized "claw" that holds bikes--and potentially other products--from the ceiling.

Gregg Chavez - The Guardian Angel: water extinguisher system that puts out Christmas tree fires.

 

Joseph and Mike Miller - Wrap-a-Way Cabinet/Gift Wrapper: installable wrap organizer that keeps multiple types of wrap--aluminum, saran, etc. --organized and easily tear-able.

Right off the bat I think The Tuckers have the most practical and marketable idea, but I like DeRennaux's idea. But we'll see what the focus groups say...

Part 2:

Now we get to the focus groups so we can see what real people think.

 

DeRennaux: Well, these kids certainly didn't take to the Custom Build Racers. I agree with DeRennaux; I think they are just trying to be cool and say they wouldn't like it. But I guarantee if they started playing with these things they would start to like them. Young kids are far to immature to understand their own feelings. Sorry, I'm harsh (but I know from experience).

The Tuckers: I really thought people would take to the EZT4U, but the show doesn't make it seem so. We did only see two people give their opinions though, so I have to question the production. There were six people in that room and who knows what they said. But, given the Tuckers' comments, it couldn't have been that great.

The Millers: So far our best reviewed product in the focus group. Their wrap organizer is sure to be a hit with housewives and people that work in the kitchen a lot. Clearly they have a great shot at getting through with their focus group success. My mom said she'd buy it right now if she could, but I can do without their cocky attitude. They're just asking for it.

Forest and Moeller: I'm most interested to see what people say about The Claw. OK, the Millers are officially blacklisted. I don't care how good their invention is, they are jerks and I'm done with them.

Anyway, back to The Claw. Doesn't look good, does it. But, they make a good point, it is a very limited sample that come into things like this with their guards up. They are supposed to be critical so they are likely overdoing it. If I were an inventor I would just use it for fuel.

Gregg Chavez: From the outset it didn't seem like The Guardian Angel was going to do well due to liability issues, but the group came around. I guess Chavez is still in the running.

Elaine Cato: Bring in a group of large chested women and Cato is bound to get some good feedback, but that's not to say that her invention doesn't have inherent appeal. Clearly it works for her target audience so who am I to judge?

I think we have our three winners...

Part 3:

I think this would be the most intense part of the competition. Once you take your product and work with specialists, you have to be ready to keep your vision in tact while also being ready to compromise and trust the design team. Also how much though you've actually put into the product is revealed because you have to start making executive decisions about every little thing necessary to ensure a well designed product. I think Cato has the easiest task so far because she is dealing in apparel and it's really a matter of detail. Someone like The Tuckers who are dealing with a mechanical appliance have a little more work. Sad to see they hadn't done all their research on tea or coffee makers, and now they have to deal with a re-design. Ouch.

I do love this process though. I wish I had the skills of analysis to look a product and think about ways to improve it. It's amazing that a design team took the problem The Tuckers had and came up with a pretty viable solution. And though they end up with a prototype of sorts, it's something that we need to see in action, because Elaine Cato has already beaten them to the punch with an actual wearable bra, one that looks store ready at this point in the competition. I'd say she's the front runner right now.

Part 4:

I hope DeRennaux gets some redemption with his design team, because he got slaughtered by those youngins. And I was thinking the same thing about lowering the demographic. Hook em while they are young and you've got a big seller. And, finally, we get to see The Guardian Angel in action. Though it is definitely primitive, at least we see that it will work. I'm worried time constraints won't allow this one to get completely off the ground, but I've got my fingers crossed for him.

It's amazing how quickly these design teams work. Perhaps it just the editing of the show, but once they get the idea hammered out it seems like they are super quick to produce. It's becoming increasingly harder to side with one inventor, because they all have the same drive, ambition and, more or less, back-story. They all just need it so badly. I sort of wish the inventions would just speak for themselves because that's what we are trying to see, not emotions. Anyway...

OK, Chavez is about to get a final test run. I'm pretty excited here. OK, no go on the first try. We got the alarm to go, but no water. Here we go again...

And I'll say I'm pretty impressed. Besides a lot of smoke it seemed to work pretty well. Like I said, very hard to pick a winner right now. Ugh.

 

Part 5:

I don't like to see Craig and David so down on themselves. If they believe in their invention, they need to do their damndest to make sure it gets better. However, clearly The Miller Brothers don't need any help because they've "got it in the bag" as they say. But I'm glad to see they went with the stainless steel, because I feel it's more marketable. I hate when inventors are too conceited about their own ideas to take their design teams advice which ultimately leads to their demise. So maybe they gained a few points from me, but I'm still irked by their attitude.

I want to see Craig and David say more than just a "bike holder" because I think this could hold a bunch of things in a garage. They could up their marketability by branching out with their idea, but I think it looks great and I'd probably have one. Sadly, I would probably have a Wrap-a-Way too, despite my distaste for Joe and Mike. Am I being a baby? Am I forgetting the reality TV m.o.? Ya gotta have someone who gets under everyone's skin, right? Still, I like the sweet-old-guy-card better than the jackass-card.

 

Part 6:

And here we go with the pitches. This is the make or break point everyone.

Elaine Cato - Well she certainly is working that bra as she walks towards the judges. She looks great. Yeah yeah there are a little nerves, but who wouldn't nervous at this point? And, hey, we finally get to see what the "6-in-1" is all about. I have to say, I'm sold on this. I don't think she has any problem making it through. And I know Sarah--who got her start in the fashion industry--is loving this. Pat sort of isn't. He drilled her with those questions, but brings up a valid point: ya gotta know your stuff. She had them from the beginning, but might be losing a few of them. Thank God Sarah stepped in there. Who needs numbers? Are they blind? Are they men? They can't tell me they don't notice the larger-breasted population out there. Come on now.

 

Part 7:

Mike and Joe Miller - I guess everyone isn't a born performer. Mike and Joe have a great product here, but they sort of dropped the ball there. I think they tried too hard to present their product and not just be themselves with their product, which they obviously love. They were trying to be info-mercial spokesmen when they needed to just be happy-go-lucky guys. Their genuine attitudes would sell. Detect a hint of fakeness and you're finished. See, once they are out of presentation mode they are back to themselves and convincing me (despite my resistant efforts) that I like them. But I don't think they have anything to worry about.

Ricky DeRennaux - Ole Ricky here has the presentation skills needed to sell a product. And I like the new name "HT Racers." Also a nice touch with the judges heads attached to one of the cars. I also like how he has modified his idea to not necessarily include a computer, because it makes it much more accessible. Like I said, I'm so torn with these inventors. DeRennaux has done a lot with it and I honestly believe it would sell. But, put against the other inventions, I don't know if it would be the best seller. He does have the passion though, and the judges specifically asked for that.

 

Part 8:

Denise and George Tucker - I liked this invention in the beginning, now I'm not so sure. But can't you see these two sort of kooky characters in their own info-mercial? They've clearly rehearsed it enoug, and they have done their research which will get them major brownie points with the judges. However, they do need a lot of adapters which seems like a lot to add to a singular invention. Eh, they're happy and in love, very endearing. That could get them enough votes from America to put them through.

Craig Forest and David Moeller - Ultimately probably the weakest of the inventions I'd say. It just doesn't have the marketability that the others have. Oh! But they did adapt The Claw to hold other things, which I'm glad to see. But, yikes...that whole bring-in-the-little-girl bit didn't really work, especially considering she couldn't get it to work. And, OK guys, no need to provide statistics if they aren't stellar. 1 in 5? No matter what the latter number, if the former is 1, it's generally not that good I'd say. I get it that it still translates to 8 million people, but say that rather than provide a meager statistic. Though I was surprised to hear two of the judges say they would buy one right off the bat. They might be our darkhorse candidates here....

 

Part 9:

Our last finalist

Gregg Chavez: Is he going to demonstrate in the studio? Oooo, I like the inconspicuous present that holds the tank. Could I wrap it as I please? Anyway. That video is pretty impressive and his pitch was great. He got this far with $50,000, so think about what he could do with more funding? Any "problems" that the judges see could be remedied with a little more tweaking.

 

So my pick for the 3 finalists are Elaine Cato, The Miller Brothers and Gregg Chavez. Despite some shaky research, performance anxiety, and lack of sufficient testing, I think they have the best products. Now, whether or not that will be the deciding factor for the judges, I don't know. But those are my favorites.

 

Part 10:

Here we go...who's going to make it.

The Tuckers - In these final moments I'm so attached to them! They are so cute and sweet. Alas, they didn't make it, and they were genuinely disappointed! I might be a little heartbroken. But, hey, they've got each other.

Elaine Cato - Success! I'm 1 for 3 so far. But I called this one a long time ago

David and Craig - Yes, they were poised and prepared, but against the rest of the inventions it just didn't hold up. How about how shocked Craig (David? Craig? I don't know) was.

Gregg Chavez - Whew! I thought for a minute Pat was going strike him down. His whole "work every time" excuse doesn't hold up. He didn't have enough money or time to test that so cut the crap Pat. But he made it so I'm appeased.


Part 11:

The Miller Brothers or Ricky DeRennaux - It's quite a toss-up here. I'm still sticking with The Millers though....WHAT!? Wow, totally thought The Millers had this one! But, hey, karma is a bitch, right? When I think about it I'm not that surprised. There we two equally great products and Ricky clearly edged them out with his presentation skills and his passion. His attitude is amazing too. He'll certainly make sure people buy his stuff.

 

So we have our final three finalists:

Elaine Cato and the 6-in-1 Bra;

Gregg Chavez and the Guardian Angel;

and Ricky DeRennaux and his HT Racer. 

American Inventor FinalistsAmerican Inventor Finalists

Here is my conundrum: we have three very different products that service very different needs. The bra is something out of necessity. The Guardian Angel is for survival. And the HT Racer is for entertainment. How do you choose between the three? Instinctively, you want to choose The Guardian Angel because it saves lives, but the others clearly have their place in the American market. If I had to say one was more innovative than the others it would be DeRennaux's racers. Cato's bra I think edges out the marketability factor. So, as you see faithful viewers, it just comes down to what you yourself are looking for out there. As for who I voted for...well, I'm going to keep that to myself and remain an unbiased viewer :)

Now, go vote for your favorite:

To vote for Elaine Cato, dial 1-866-U-PICK-01 or text the number "1" to 97979.

To vote for Greg Chavez, dial 1-866-U-PICK-02 or text the number "2" to 97979.

To vote for Ricky DeRennaux, dial 1-866-U-PICK-03 or text the number "3" to 97979.

Thanks for joining me, everyone. See you next week for the finale.


Seth Plattner
Featured Blogger
Inventor Spot Team

 

Comments
Jul 26, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

Wrapaway

I'd say that is another obsolete product before it was even made.  Sure, in the past, people used plastic wrap, aluminum foil, waxed paper, etc.  But today, people are using disposable bowls with lids, or ONE type of wrap (typically microwavable). 

I already have enough junk on my kitchen counters and wouldn't want to attach that contraption under my cabinets or anywhere else. 

I hope Denise and George are enjoying their stay on that deserted island.

Jul 26, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

wrap away

   My problem with the wrap away is that on the top of my kitchen cabinet, in memory of my grandparents, is a stainless steel wrap holder which holds 4 rolls;  marked saran wrap, aluminum foil, waxed paper, and paper (towels).  I'm sure that the men thought that theirs was the first, but my grandparents used theirs in the 60's.  If their product had gone on, would it be an infringement  of someone else's invention??  Sorry guys, try again!

Jul 26, 2007
by AmericanCynic

Wrap-A-Way

No, it wouldn't have been infringement. That's one of the points of the patent system, that inventors could profit from their invention for up to 17 or 20 years (depending on when the patent was issued) and then the concept becomes public domain. Any patent covering that old wrap holder would have expired long ago. However, the Millers' patent might be in jeopardy if it could be shown that prior art existed, meaning they didn't invent it. Remember, US patent system is based on "first to invent." Assuming a decent market existed, if another company made a similar product and the Millers tried to enforce their patent, the company could point out that prior art and have the patent invalidated. That's the problem with American Inventor. Because they don't bother to check on prior art, they just don't know who shouldn't advance. And once they've chosen the six, they can't admit that they were wrong and throw somebody off the show, which would wreck the show's plans. I know they can't do it at the auditions, but you would think they would do that kind of checking before sitting down to choose the city winners, when they have plenty of time to do so. A similar fate can befall the Guardian Angel since there's plenty of prior art and several patents. His only advance might be to claim that he added the alarm, but I'm not sure that can be successfully argued to be unobvious, something essential to get a patent.

Jul 27, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

Don't Understand American Cynic's

self-limiting behavior:  why not "WorldCynic"?

Jul 28, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

Wrap-A-Way/Long-Ago Hideaway

Although they are harder to find these days, I always liked the 4-slot holders that attach to the inside of a kitchen sink's door (or other door which can accommodate it).  The various slots hold the foil, waxed paper,  plastic wrap and whatever else you have to store, but you  pull the boxes out when you need to wrap something.  At least the boxes are in one place and out of sight.

Jul 29, 2007
by Duane (not verified)

I Want One

I would like to purchase Wrap-A-Way.  So what if they didn't win the prize... surely a manufacturer sees the value of the product and the potential market, right?  Over time, it wouldn't surprise me if they made more than a million $ in sales nation wide. I'd be willing to bet Wal-Mart would put it on their selves.  Like I say, I want one!  If I had the $$, I would back them myself.

Jul 30, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

"over time....make more than a million in sales.."

Helllloooooo.  You write that as though a "million in sales" over time would be enough to get anyone interested these days.  Some companies will close down and move elsewhere when they are making millions but think their profit isn't high enough. 

Sure, anyone looking to "make it" by selling their new product might be excited over the possibility of making tens of thousands a year, but that doesn't seem to be good enough for the decision-makers to invest in.

I believe Peter is referred to as a "billionaire".  Do you think he's interested in ten of thousands?  Heck, no.  He wants another billionaire and then another--and he won't get it by investing in petty products that may or may not sell.  There is a huge gap between the "haves" and the "haves not" and that is part of the problem.

Jul 31, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

You are so wrong

Ricks current school program is very science, engineering and math based, in fact, I am the Director of his middle school propgram which is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation which concentrates on STEM skills so he has already kept his promise.  Do some research on the net and you will see that.

Aug 2, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

"You are so wrong. Ricks [sic] current school program ..."

You are the DIRECTOR of the school program and you don't know that "Rick's" is possessive?

You are so wrong....

Aug 2, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

"Director"

...not to mention run-on sentences.

Aug 2, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

H.T. Racers

When I was in school, we weren't allowed to make paper airplanes, etc.  So now we have the teacher making them and encouraging the students to do so, too.  Weird.

Aug 3, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

cato crumbles reply

We are all human, the best of us can practice and memorize the correct response, but when you get on that stage, under the lights, in front of the judges, some of us can lose it....forget our well planned out speech.   They gave it their best shot! I'm sure when they were done alot of them said: why didn't I do this or why did'nt I say that! and felt bad about their response.  I don't think they need anybody to remind them of that. Not everyone is a salesman, you have to learn through experience.  This will be a building block for their future. We need to be helping and cultivating our fellow citizens.

Aug 3, 2007
by RC Model Guy (not verified)

HT RACERS ROCK!!!

HT RACERS can be an entirely new product line on the market and become a classic like Legos meets Transformers.

RC airplanes, boats, cars, robots, creatures, animals, hovercrafts... it is endless... fun!!!

It was very cool designing a pop-up truck for little kids and then the designing can come a little later.  Flying an RC plane that you build with your own hands is a great feeling and this teacher is smart to have them made out of paper.  I pay 100 dollars for foam rc planes, with HT RACERS you could probably buy a few kits for HALF of that!!

Ricky DeRennaux seems like a great guy and one smart inventor.

Feb 29, 2008
by Anonymous

Wrap-A-Way

I've personally met one of the Millers. I was intrigued by his product and continue to believe it is viable. Unfortunately they (the Millers) are not polished marketers. My colleague informed of your show and web site a few years after I met Mr. Miller. I never saw your show and your web site does not impress me. When I try to see video caps of the original show, all I find is links to Microsoft products. What's up with that? To think you would give your award to a bra in lieu of a truly revolutionary kitchen aid product is beyond my imagination. It is apparent to me that money, and not the spirit of the true American entrepreneur, is your goal. Your show will ultimately fail as did the Wrap-A-Way, greatly due to your ignorance.

Feb 29, 2008
by Anonymous

Wrap-A-Way

Totally different product than the one on E-Bay. Or perhaps you aren't smart enough to tell the difference. You surely aren't smart enough to invent bottled water.