More Than 90 Inventors Advance to Next Round in QVC/HSN Product Search
August 23, 2019: Entrepreneurs often spend years developing their products and building their brands. But at last week’s pitch panels for The Big Find, it all came down to 10 minutes.
The Big Find is our nationwide search to discover the next big items for QVC and HSN in beauty, fashion, accessories, and jewelry. The search opened in June and attracted nearly 660 entries, representing 43 US states, the District of Columbia, and 12 other countries. Submissions came from as far away as South Africa, Australia, Singapore, South Korea, and India. Even the city-state of Monaco contributed an entry.
Last week, about 270 finalists met our buyers at day-long pitching sessions in St. Petersburg, FL, West Chester, PA, New York, and Seattle. Each entrepreneur had 10 minutes to explain why their product should be offered to millions of QVC and HSN customers via our broadcasts, websites, mobile apps and social pages.
Tensions were high. Many of the entrepreneurs had quit their jobs to develop their products. Others had cashed in their retirement savings and emptied out their children’s college funds. All knew that this pitch could be the big break that helps them turn their idea into a multimillion-dollar national brand.
“It was like speed dating for entrepreneurs,” said Rob Robillard, Vice President Buying Integrated Beauty for QVC and HSN. “Most were very nervous. We tried hard to be as approachable and relaxed as possible.”
Like any product judges, the panelists considered how new and different each product was and how well it would fit into our existing portfolios at QVC or HSN. But given our uniquely interactive retail model, the panelists also focused on the story behind the product and how effective the inventor would be as a storyteller.
At QVC and HSN, vendors explain their products directly to millions of customers, live. That’s very different from selling at a department store – where a product sits on a shelf – or on a transactional ecommerce site – where a product appears in a list with dozens of competing items.
“We told the entrepreneurs to imagine that we’re just a couple of friends talking about their product,” said Lisa Morrissey, Senior Vice President, Fashion Buying and Fashion DDGS for QVC and HSN.“We said, ‘Tell us about yourself and how you came up with your idea.’”
The stories they heard were touching and emotional. Many of the entrepreneurs have had life-altering experiences that inspired them to solve specific problems by inventing new products. In some cases, the panelists were moved to tears, reflecting the human connections that make our shopping experiences so powerful.
More than 90 entrepreneurs received a “Big Ticket” during their pitches, meaning they were invited on the spot to come back for more lengthy discussions with our buyers. About half of the Big Ticket winners were in the beauty category. Other participants may also be invited back later, as the QVC and HSN buyers reflect on everything they learned in the panels.
The vast majority of the entrepreneurs have small businesses, with little or no distribution beyond their own website or shop. This means that The Big Find is likely to help QVC and HSN bring customers many innovative products that are not available anywhere else.
“The Big Find exceeded all expectations, for sure,” Rob said. “And this search only included the soft side of our business; it didn’t include home or electronics. We’re looking forward to conducting more nationwide searches in the future.”