of us clap in relief upon finding a lost personal belonging. But
the inventor of FINDIT suggests clapping before the search to immediately
locate those mislaid medicine bottles, eye glasses, keys purses
to find the remote control for his television one day, Craig Nabat
realized that the world needed a device that could help people find
the personal articles they lose most often. Common everyday forgetfulness,
he felt, is a human trait that besets every consumer on earth at
some time or another.
So at the age
of 19, Nabat secured the capital for hiring engineers to help him
develop a computer chip that responds to the sound of three claps.
When a prototype was created, he gave FINDIT a registered trademark
and launched Ambitious Ideas Inc.
Now, 10 years
later, Nabat remains incredulous over the backward approach he took
when he first began marketing his domino-sized device.
which attaches to items as small as key chains and beeps when activated,
required an initial $66,000 investment for 10,000 units. But in
his eagerness to introduce FINDIT to the public, Nabat sunk an additional
$35,000 into a one-minute infomercial that hit the airwaves before
he received his first product shipment.
The effort was
further botched when the initial product order came tainted with
faulty technology, missing logos and imperfect designs.
stuck with thousands of units that I would not have sold to my worst
enemy," he quips. Thus, the television commercial was
off the air and Nabat ended up donating the flawed products to a
school for science and art projects.
a marketing plan that went from Z to A, rather than A to Z,"
A Second Chance At Success
initial mistrials, Nabat maintained his belief in the product and
spent two years searching for new engineers who could design the
microchip properly. This time, the product was backed by a team
of accomplished professionals who had experience in developing microchips
for guided missile systems for the U.S.
Nabat was also
intent on outsourcing all aspects of the operation so that he could
focus freely on exploring the marketing power of electronic media.
He enlisted a bevy of supporters, including a Web site designer,
a phone sales center to take orders, and a fulfillment house to
ship the merchandise.
of people who get into direct mail order industries don't understand
that you shouldn't spend all of your money on the infrastructure.
Instead, you should devote it to the marketing and advertising of
your product. Outsourcing is much cheaper and allows you to preserve
your marketing and ad budget," says Nabat.
The Road To Hollywood
The money that
Nabat saved dodging the expenses of employee payrolls, telephone
lines and shipping materials has been partly used for hiring a Hollywood
product placement company in Los Angeles. The agency supplies film
producers with products that add a believable essence to their movie
sets. Nabat says retainers for such agencies can cost up to $60,000
per year, although he is thrilled over the results so far.
In an upcoming
movie starring Sylvester Stallone called "Champs," a 40-foot
FINDIT banner will grace an auto racetrack in one scene. And in
another soon-to-be-released film with
Jack Nicholson, called "The Pledge," moviegoers will get
a glimpse of a 5-foot cardboard cut-out that depicts Nabat himself
jumping over an oversized FINDIT.
display all sorts of products in their scenes and they must seek
the rights to use them. This s a good way of getting your brand
name on the big screen," says Nabat.
his original ill-fated attempt at television advertising, Nabat
has re-edited the two-minute infomercial that airs under a less
expensive guise compared to the high cost of "spot buying."
Though an agency
that works with television networks called Per Inquiry Advertising,
Nabat obtains media time with no up-front investment but he surrenders
40 percent of sales made from each infomercial to the broker. Another
provision is that the commercial is pegged into unsold time slots
on stations from which Nabat cannot pick and choose. His only initial
investment stems from production costs and re-editing.
Advertising, however, requires that companies display strong sales
records before marketers qualify for "remnant" airtime.
a way to just get your foot in the door and prove that there is
life to the product," says Nabat. "But you don't necessarily
get the repetition you need to hit the mass market."
that his alternative approach to infomercial marketing might eventually
lead to a joint venture with a major direct marketing company. Such
companies typically partner with merchants whom they believe can
sell in large volume with increased media time.
only about 17 of them in the US that invest in infomercial time,
and you have to have a well-proven track record to be considered."
The QVC Spotlight
It seems that
more than a few people had lost their television remotes the day
FINDIT made its debut on the QVC Shopping Network last year. In
only seven minutes, Nabat sold 859 units for $19.95 apiece.
to myself and the people I'm working with that there is definitely
a need for this product," says Nabat.
Securing a spot
on the network, however, is not an easy task. Nabat was originally
turned down when he pitched the product himself. It wasn't until
after he hired a broker that QVC tool notice.
to find people who have personal relationships with buyers of that
network," says Nabat. "My advice is to find qualified
brokers - ones who specialize in the direct response industry, as
opposed to traditional media buyers."
Nabat was recently
invited back on the network for a second time, providing him with
a six-minute spot. "I'd certainly like to hear from them again,
but I'll just have to wait and see what happens."