Homemade Millionaire: One Reject’s Take

Processing complete (big sigh). Now that my five year old has been sent on her way to p.m. Kindergarten and I have enjoyed a nice lunch while crying my way through yesterday’s Oprah’s Ultimate Favorite Things, I think I am finally ready to provide my two cents on the Friday night Premier episode of Homemade Millionaire.

I tweeted myself silly…along with what seemed like about six other people. I even received a very sweet thank you DM from Kelly herself – Love you Kelly! One of the first things I was wondering as I was watching the show was “where is everyone?”

There has been a lot of commenting over on Tracy’s ProductX blog, along with what seems like a lot of explaining by the winner, Marcy McKenna (me thinks thou doth protest too much).

This first part of my blog post is kind of like what my old boss and I used to call a “therapy letter”. He would write a draft of a letter that would often start out not in the happiest of tones. I would type it up and turn it back over to him and we would hand the letter back and forth to one another with edits until eventually the letter was either never sent, or sent to the round file.

So, without further ado – here’s me sounding a bit pitiful.

I flew to Chicago to attend Kelly Ripa’s “Woman Inventor” casting call with a working prototype of my specialized cleaning tool in my hands and a prayer in my heart. I gave my best pitch… I know some of you have already heard it, and it seems VERY silly now:

“I’m a REAL Housewife in New Jersey – I haven’t been nipped or tucked, and I still clean my own house, which is why I am so excited to tell you about my invention “Grime-Out!” This revolutionary new cleaning tool allows you to simultaneously scrub and rinse those tough to reach areas in the bath…”

See? I even brought my winning personality, which I have been told by many that I do possess, albeit in an often goofballesque fashion. I even write my own material! I also have in my filing cabinet a sealed envelope which I sent to myself certified mail a while back with another idea that’s on the shelf for now.

As it turns out, and I shared this with the folks at Milojo as well, I too come from a family of inventors who have invented very significant things (e.g., Steve Jensen, invented Electronic Ballast for flourescent bulbs; John Christian Jensen, invented the P-Static Precipitator 1936, used on all aircraft today – my father and great grandfather respectively).

Frankly, I think I could kick some pitching ass on HSN and I know a lot of other ladies who could too (ahem, Marianne, Tracy, Ro, Ginny), especially when talking about their own product. But, unfortunately, we didn’t realize that “ready to sell” meant, ready to host.

I do think (after dishing with friends and getting lots of other opinions) that this show would have been better served had it waited to put Marcy McKenna on at a later date, therefore allowing time for the product she submitted for consideration to be, know it sounds crazy… “ready to sell”. There were thousands of women who auditioned for this show who are!

Was Tonya set up to be the black sheep of the first episode? It clearly stated in the application that you needed to have a “working prototype” and to be able to show how it worked. I know this because, since I could not bring a functioning shower with me to Chicago, my husband (not a film maker or producer) shot a demo video in our bathroom which we sent in with an online application. Yes, I applied online AND went to the casting call.

Again – bear with me because I REALLY want to see this show to succeed, but it was tough to watch the curly haired lady giving Tonya and her rollers a hard time due to the fact that THEY are the ones that brought her there! Clearly someone somewhere thought that Tonya and her MagicKurl rollers (not a working prototype) were good enough to make it on the show.

As for Stefany, I think she has a fantastic product that speaks for itself – I don’t think the cuff “barely fit” around her hair, I think she was nervous and her fingers were a little shaky. It seemed so unfair that she was out in the first five minutes of the show!

Where was all of the step by step, through the process help we thought we were going to see? I thought, along with many others, that they would at least entertain us with some fun bloopers from the audition tapes.

Okay – now here’s me with my big girl panties pulled way up:

This is what I know. This is television. No matter how much I love Kelly Ripa (and I do love her) and trust that her intentions for what she wanted to create here were/are good, there are a slew of other folks out there with their hands in it as well. Whether you want to believe it or not, these shows are about two things: entertainment and making money.

Also, cannot forget to mention what I thought was the quote of the show by Marcy that went something like “I’m not gonna have to invent something am I?” Really?

I went to Chicago and I had an experience that I will never forget and because of it, I have launched a business and am doing what I love to do. I am connected with some of the most incredible, empowering women you could ever ask to be included with and am so proud of all of them!

If you audition for a show like this and stake your life and being on it, you will be disappointed every time. We make our own destiny – I know you already know this!

Biggest lesson I think for many: You don’t need to be on a reality television show to be successful. Your target audience is NOT watching this show – your fellow entrepreneurs are.

I will continue to support and look forward to tweeting about the show Friday night – I hope it will gain some momentum and at least put a spotlight on some really fabulous inventors.

My hat is off to ALL of the ladies – Marcy McKenna, Tonya Englebrecht and Stefany DiManno! There is no questioning that you are all winners!

As always, thank you for taking the time to read and share!


16 thoughts on “Homemade Millionaire: One Reject’s Take

  1. Right on, Jen! I agree with all you've so eloquently (and humorously!) written here. And I don't fault the inventors one little bit. It is clearly the creative geniuses who came up with this less-than-riveting – or even entirely logical? – format. We know that we are all a bright bunch of women, but there was something about Friday's show that was more than a tad condescending, sometimes harsh and distinctly disrespectful. At least, that's how it appeared to my way of thinking. Suffice it to say…I was disappointed and expected something different, something more substantive, something more dignified. In fact, it made me feel relieved that my product had not been selected — and that, in and of itself – says a great deal! Best, Ginny

  2. Wow Jen, great article! Cannot believe we felt the very same. We must've virtually hardwired our thoughts into the same emotions. Wonderful to know, support and network with you too!

  3. Thank you very much Ginny and Marianne. It means a lot and I never take for granted how busy we all are – I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.XO

  4. Jen, I could read your posts over and over, they are so entertaining and well written! I still, to this day, think of your Granny as I drink one full glass of water right when I wake up. :)Over here, on your blog, I guess I am comfortable to say I am bitter…somewhat…(I try to keep it "light and airy on Product X). I am ALWAYS happy to see WI's succeed and I am not begrudging them the spotlight or the opportunity but honestly, I sure would like my $2,000 + back that I spent going to Chicago to audition for a show that obviously was no where near what was being produced. Also, it is quite embarrassing to be SO excited and involve all of my family and close friends in what I thought was a true shot of getting my Everything Marinator produced. After pursuing this business of inventions/pitching for over a year, I have seen that most of what people say in the "biz" is a load of…crap…to be honest. You know I am not a negative person, but I do not see this show lasting (at best) one season. I think Milojo's original show concept actually WOULD have been a huge success…what the show is now is very misleading and sad…it's really a shame.Thanks for your awesome blog – I do love it! Oh yes, and thank you for my blog shout out! It's all about WI's supporting WI's! 🙂

  5. Tell it sister Tracy! I feel the same way and can echo your sentiments about wanting to always look at the positive side of things. I have always been a glass half full kind of a girl even in the worst of situations!Thanks for your kind words – and yes, I think the general concensus, especially from those who actually ATTENDED an audition and felt the passionate energy from all of those creative people in one place – people who actually believed what they were being told, now feel downright silly.Again – wouldn't trade the experience!There's no business like show business!

  6. Hi Jen, bravo… can't agree with you more :)I did a blog post on the show and as I have said, these "reality" shows give budding entrepreneurs an unrealistic view of bringing a product to market. The term "pitch" is not used at retail… it is called a New Product Presentation. A product presentation in retail is fact based and has no entertainment value.Getting your product on the shelf requires more than a great pitch… just ask anyone who has made this journey.Buyers, whether they are HSN, QVC or retail establishments like Whole Foods are looking for fact based presentations. I wish there was a show that focused on the strategy and the blocking and tackling it tales to be a successful entrepreneur in a consumer products based company. Getting on the shelf and into the consumers hands is a challenging journey and these shows are entertainment… nothing more…. all the best.

  7. Ladies, I tried out and I am being considered for season 2. If Marcy does well maybe investors, companies,and banks will think women are a more bankable risk and all of us women inventors will benefit. Let's not eat our young….let's show the world women mean business, not the old stereotype of women as weak, crying, back biting witches. Let's have Marcy and Kellys backs'…not bite their backs! http://tinyurl.com/mwc6m8

  8. Thanks everyone for all of your comments! I am a very openminded person who prides herself on the ability to look at all sorts of situations from every perspective. That is why I look forward to seeing what the 2nd episode this Friday night will bring. I will say again – kudos to Marcy, Tonya and Stefany! I wish them every success!As for Kelly Ripa – I am and always will be a HUGE fan. I think she and Mark C. are incredibly nice, well intentioned people and I hope the show succeeds for their sake as well as the women who were selected.Hope more will join us on Twitter this Friday! I am @JenCannPro there.

  9. Ladies and Dom 🙂 — First, I am a little embarrassed to admit that I was so exhausted last night that I completely missed the show!HOWEVER, I am SO excited about the fact that Debra Lee's Bake Huggers took home the GOLD!Thanks Ro for posting the HSN link. This seems like something that literally everyone can use! Will be buying some myself later this morning.Congratulations Debra!!!More later… :)XO

  10. Jen,We are too late-I went on HSN at 8:00 and they were sold out.Whoo-Hoo for Debra!!Debra, if you're reading this, please let us know when more will be available. My daughter (10) thinks they are the coolest thing since sliced bread.Ro

  11. Hi Jen, Ro, & Dom,Thank you for your support of Bake Huggers!!!!! I am honored to be the culinary winner for Homemade Millionaire! Kitty, Eileen, and Kim were a joy to work with during the taping of the show. We are all still in touch and I believe in each of them and their products. Marcy is also a wonderful, inventive, and down to Earth gal. She is one to watch with all of her incredible ideas!I haven't been on line in many days because of the show and Thanksgiving. My family and I just returned from St. Pete's, Florida and it was an amazing memory. Truly a THANKFUL Thanksgiving for sure.The super news as you already know, is Bake Huggers SOLD OUT in less than five minutes! Ro, we will have more available by early 2011. Please tell your daughter we're working on it and thanks for thinking they're way cool! My daughters feel the same way!You are right Dom about the retail industry. I have unfortunately been there and am WELL aware of what is expected and what we should expect. The biggest problem with larger companies is trusting them, there isn't any such animal with most. Bake Huggers have made their journey over the years and the show has given me a new outlet to the many households of America. HSN is a strong partner to move forward with into the future. We have MANY branches and other opportunities to discuss and explore. I have NEVER been one to sit idle and I have so many other projects on burners as well. However, Bake Huggers of course is the priority. As I said before, create solid roots, making for a tree that can accommodate many branches!Thanks for cheering me on and I promise Bake Huggers will grow into a fruitful wonderful tree.I hope everyone had a beautiful Thanksgiving,:) Debra LeeBake Huggers

  12. Debra! Thank you for taking the time to leave your great comments here! The conversations are rolling between the ProductX blog and mine and it is all very theraputic and informative.So glad for your success – you've got one of those products that we, the consumer, "get" the moment we see it. Lordy the phones must have sizzled right off the hooks at HSN that day!Love the analogy of planting solid roots in your business.All the best to you and thanks again!Viva la Bake Huggers!

  13. Thanks again Jen! A few of the "higher ups" at HSN told me that their own family and friends kept e-mailing them. They wanted to know when Bake Huggers would be available again! I couldn't have asked for a better scenario!Believe, believe, believe, and always follow through with your passion. When it finally comes together, get ready to work even harder to stand out and continue it to happen.Best regards,:) Debra LeeBake Huggers

  14. You have the cutest big girl panties:>)We got rid of cable in order to save $ AND be more productive (now I just watch HULU all day..LOL)so I can't watch the show on Fridays. It was fascinating to read about your experience. I think if more people find the silver lining (because there always is one, sometimes it's just very very thin and hard to see), they'd be as awesome as you are!Never lose your goofballesque:>)

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