A Home Shopping Network Dream Come True

Call it a live, unscripted circus of consumerism, a 24-hour-a-day tent revival for the digital age, where the religion is capitalism, and the only faith you need is in your product and your pitch.

It is the Home Shopping Network, or HSN, whose stars include everyone from celebrities hawking their brands to the guy next door, putting everything on the line for that chance to earn thousands in minutes.

Each year 10,000 people apply to the network for a chance to try out their product on air. But only a few hundred make the grade. So what does it take?

Jim Song is one inventor who has been through the experience. His brainchild — that has consumed him for nearly two decades — is a device that steam-cleans toothbrushes. He calls it the "Germ Terminator."

ABC News followed Song and his wife Adi as they tried to make the dream come true.

Velocity Calling

One of the most astonishing things about HSN is just how much product can be sold when, in the words of network president Marty Nealon, "something really resonates with a customer."

She calls it velocity. "Somebody gets out there, and they're able to really explain something. And they get excited. And the phone lines just light up — and all across America — because television is so powerful," she said.

One of the network's biggest sellers is the "huggable hanger" — clothes hangers lined with a non-slip velvety surface. After selling more than 15 million of them, the hangers' inventor, former housewife Joy Mangano, is now a millionaire.

When viewers look at the inventions on the network, "it looks so simple," Nealon said, leading them to think they can do it themselves. "And that's what's exciting," she added.

Doing Their Homework

The Songs' first step was an audition, where they had to convince HSN executives to buy some of their products.

The stakes were high. The Songs have a family of seven, and they spent their savings and mortgaged their house to bring the Germ Terminator to market.

"Our life is riding on this product," Jim told ABC News' Jay Schadler. "We've invested in the patent attorneys, we've invested in the engineers." Part of their money also went to manufacturing more than 300,000 of the devices.

That's a conservative number. "There's 300 million people in the United States alone who brush their teeth. And I figured that 300,000 would not be enough," he said.

In front of the executives, Adi told them: "You wash your silverware everyday before you use it, after you use it. Why wouldn't you clean your toothbrush?"

But HSN buyer Nathan Bangs pointed out the item was untested, and set to appear during the busy Christmas season, when air time is especially valuable.

Marketing executive Suzi Ross appeared more enthusiastic. She said the device was "easy to understand" and "highly demonstrable."

The final say came from Bangs, who became convinced. "Can you be here in September?" he asked Jim. "Absolutely," Jim replied.

Salesperson, Showperson

With their foot in the door, the next step for the Songs was to get their heads out of the clouds.

Within the space of a month, they would have to pack and ship their items, as well as come up with what Jim was going to say on air.

Jim is passionate about inventing things, but he was afraid of selling them in a live, unscripted pitch for his network debut. However, on HSN, the spectacle is almost as important as the product.

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