While the world of entrepreneurship is obsessed with superstars--from Elon Musk to Bill Gates to Gwyneth Paltrow--one PBS series continues to demonstrate that anyone can create a great product, and in as little in two days.
Inventor teams on the PBS show Make48 have just 48 hours to come up with a prototype and fleshed-out marketing pitch.The show, currently wrapping up its fourth season, assembles teams from different backgrounds--design, product development, engineering, or woodworking, for example--and challenges them to build a prototype, create a one-minute pitch video, and then present to the judges. (Inc. editor-in-chief Scott Omelianuk was an early, unpaid adviser to the show.)
Winners get $10,000 and a potential licensing contract with Make48 event sponsor Lifetime Brands, a global provider of kitchenware, tableware, and other home products. Lifetime Brands then takes 120 days to further evaluate and potentially test market the product. If the company doesn't move ahead, the competitors are free to peddle their invention elsewhere.
This season, teams are being asked to create an innovative storage solution for the garage, kitchen, or bathroom--and with households stocking up during the pandemic, the need is real. Teams are also supplied with equipment and experts to help them build almost any concept. Tom Gray, CEO and co-creator of Make48, a company based in Kansas City, Missouri, says the most successful teams are those that are best able to freely collaborate, build quickly, and then modify with feedback. "They don't hold back secrets and work as just a team--they take advantage of all the people all around them," he says.
The show is co-hosted by New York designer, artist, and video producer Jimmy DiResta and Xyla Foxlin, the executive director of Beauty and the Bolt, a non-profit that aims to increase the number of women in science and technology fields. The final episode, which features Inc. editor-at-large Kimberly Weisul as a judge, premiers next week. "It was so much fun to meet all the teams and see the development of their ideas," says Weisul. "By pairing inventors with expert fabricators, Make48 showcases the best of the entrepreneurial spirit and helps new ideas become reality in record time."
The show also hits on the zeitgeist of this unique moment. Maker spaces are so common now, says Gray, who notes that they're found anywhere from inside large corporations and college campuses to local libraries and community centers. "It's easier than ever now to build a prototype," says Gray, "and that's what we want people to know from the show because it's the first thing you must do to make your product a reality."
The 10-episode series airs on PBS stations. Episodes are also available on Make48's website, on-demand. Season five starts shooting next spring 2021 (Covid depending). Make48 will host events in 10 cities across the U.S., the winners of which will go on to appear in the next televised season. Interested? Teams can apply on the Make48 website.