Of the more than 1,000 U.S. inventors who entered Walmart’s second annual Get on the Shelf contest, Kimberly McCain was one of the 20 lucky entrepreneurs to be called to the final round to make her pitch in person.
With her Eraselet – a bracelet and eraser in one – McCain, from outside Nashville, Tenn., and others with inventions in tow headed to Walmart.com headquarters recently in California in hopes of winning over judges and having their product sold to millions.
Walmart solicited entries in July from entrepreneurs and small-business owners hoping to get their product on the shelves of Walmart in front of millions of customers. In August, the public was allowed to vote on video entries and the finalists were selected.
For the face-to-face pitch round, ABC News’ “Made in America” team had the only cameras allowed in.
The judges – Richard Ramsden, director of Walmart.com, Carrie Huie, director of merchandising for toys, and senior buyer Andrea Wright – agreed that they were looking for the “next big thing.”
Vincent Rush, a father from Cincinnati, was among the first to make a presentation. Rush created the Links Safe teen-driving monitor, which takes two minutes to install and alerts you via smartphone when your teen is driving erratically or without a seatbelt.
“As a parent, the scariest day of any parent’s life is when your kid gets their license and we hand them the keys,” he said.
He survived the judges.
McCain, waiting for her demonstration, said, “I’m more excited than anything. Before I go in there, I’m probably going to lose it.”
The judges loved her Eraselet, now being manufactured in Hot Springs, Ark., and her, too.
“They [businesses] just assume they can’t get it done here,” she said. “Manufacturers are here and they want our business.”
Angelle Albright of New Orleans said that as she battled cancer – and won – she lost her hair but was unable to find a scarf or hat that suited her. So she created Chemo Beanies.
“[It's] just a simple slip-on cover that goes right over your head, stays in place, has elastic and spandex, and is cute and stylish,” she said. “I watch the news and I see that we need jobs in America, that we need to be able to make products here.”
The judges were moved and Albright was relieved.
ABC News’ Eric Noll contributed to this story.