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Start Ups – Electronic Retailer

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Inventions & Us
BY CARRIE M. HARPER

So, where do you go to find the next great American inventor? A good place to start is Pittsburgh, Pa. That's right, Pittsburgh.

The Invention & New Product Exposition (INPEX) held its 22nd annual invention trade show on June 7-10. INPEX is America's largest invention trade show and exposition showcasing numerous inventions and new products available to license, manufacture or market. As I entered the trade show floor, you could practically feel the excitement and enthusiasm that surrounds the show, as more than 350 inventors from 20 countries around the world gathered under one roof in hopes of getting their product on store shelves or featured on a live shopping show.

The show featured innovations ranging from an upside-down Christmas tree, to new power tool and fitness ideas, to a love-detection collar for pets.

INPEX is also where amateur inventors get chosen and invited to participate in ERA’s annual Invention Showcase. The association launched the show in 1999 to provide inventors with a safe forum to understand the invention process and see firsthand how to turn their dreams into a marketable reality and to bring new products and ideas to ERA member companies.

For the fifth consecutive year, ERA hosted a product review panel to qualify products for its 2006 Invention Showcase to be held September 10-12 in Las Vegas. The panel was comprised of six ERA members representing all segments of the multichannel marketing and direct response industry, from catalog to DRTV to Internet to call centers. Industry experts included: Collette Liantonio, president, Concepts TV Productions Inc.; Karen Hyman, president, Live Link TV; Bridget Corish, director of business development, Livemercial Inc.; Tami Cubel, vice president of client development, InPulse Response Group; Wendi Cooper, CEO, C Spot Run Productions, LLC; and Curtis Clarke, vice president of Catalog Solutions Inc. Each panelist brought a unique perspective to the panel and represented years of direct response knowledge and experience.

Over 50 inventors with products geared toward the direct-to-consumer industry presented their ideas and innovations in the hopes of pre-qualifying for this year's Showcase. Products ranging from things that make you go to those that made you ask yourself "now why didn't I think of that?" Were auditioned; the panel invited more than 30 inventors to exhibit in Vegas.

As our industry becomes increasingly more sophisticated and focused on the big brand Fortune 500 companies, it's thrilling to see the high-level of entrepreneurship entering the direct response world says Concepts TV Productions; Collette Liantonio. Its exciting to see the American Dream in action and to have the opportunity to recognize the next great breakthrough that is destined to make our lives better.

This year's inventors are no doubt hoping to duplicate the success of one of last year's Invention Showcase winner, Carrie Jeske. Her invention, Sports Shade, a portable awning that can be attached to a fixed object to provide shade and cover during summertime recreational activities, was recently featured live on QVC and is available for sale on its website.

As the long day ended, marking another successful partnership with INPEX, ERA and Invention Showcase Task Force chair, Wendy Cooper, commented, "Every year it is such a joy to be able to give back to the people who make our industry thrive‚Äîthe inventors. It's so refreshing to see how ERA’s Invention Showcase has grown, how ERA members have stayed committed, and how our efforts with the support of everyone at INPEX provide exactly what we set out to do: provide a safe forum where education meets opportunity. And it's thrilling to see the high-level of entrepreneurship entering the direct response world.

Collette Liantonio, Concepts TV Productions Inc.
Information about ERA & Invention Showcase, including a list of past winners, is available at www.americaninventiveness.org.

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Daily Record: Production Company In Boonton Shoots Infomercials Around Globe

DOSSIER: Collette Liantonio, President, Concepts TV Productions, Boonton

On the tube: Unless you haven't watched TV in 20 years, chances are you've seen an info­mercial produced by Mountain Lakes resident Collette Lianto­nio, president of Concepts TV Productions.

The company: Founded in 1983 by Liantonio, the Boonton based company has been honored with more than 200 awards for its work in direct-response televi­sion, featuring such celebrities as Joe Namath, George Foreman and Arnold Palmer selling every­thing from cookware to hair care. Some of Liantonio's hits include the Pasta Pot, Topsy Tail and Jack Lalanne Stepper.

What is direct-response television? Any commercial that can get immediate action whether ordering via telephone or the Internet — all those 800-number commercials.

How did you get started in this field? "I was doing this type of work for other people and asked my employer if he would hire me. He was my first cus­tomer. I'm primarily a script writer."

Family business: "My daugh­ter Eve Fusco is chief financial officer, and my son, John Calder­aro, manages the Los Angeles office."

"My other daughter, Collette DeBenedetto, is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania. "I also have a a 4 month old grandson, Cosmo."

"My business is run like a fam­ily. I like that idea. I have only 10 employees. and we're a very close-knit group."

"My Parents live in a down­stairs apartment at my house, and growing up, I lived in an apartment above the family business."

Born: July 12, 1949, in Brook­lyn and grew up there.

Education: After graduating high school at 16, went to Fordham University to New York on a scholarship majoring in English. Also has master's degree from New York University in theater education with a concentration in directing.

Jersey girl: Moved to New Jersey when she married at age 22, settling first in Clifton. Taught English and Spanish at Rutherford High School for sever­al years.

Also lived in Wayne and Montville. "I kept moving west."

Is there any other profes­sion you would have liked to try? "Acting, but I'm too insecure for all the rejection. You have to have a thick skin."

How long have you lived In Mountain Lakes? "I've lived in Mountain Lakes for 11 years with my husband. Jon DeBenedetto."

Favorite restaurants: South City Grill in Mountain Lakes and Attila's Kitchen in Denville."

What Is you love to do? "To go. I'm a globe-trotter. I go to Hawaii every couple of years, and in two weeks, I'm going to Spain. I like the whole Spanish culture."

"I've also shot commercials in Africa, Korea, England and Scot­land and was in Serbia when war broke out. I would like to go to Bali and Egypt."

Did you have any female role models? "There weren't a lot of women coming up through the ranks then, mostly men."

Pet peeve: "I dislike it when someone in business acts unethi­cal or immoral, then says, 'It's business.'"

Do you think women have come a long way? "I was in the second class of women to gradu­ate from Fordham, which was all male until 1965. There were 10 men to every woman."

"It's hard for women to com­bine business and a career unless you want your kids raised by a nanny."

"I don't think things have changed except that there are greater expectations going from a career to motherhood."

"I feel badly that we don't do a good job with child care in this country."

"If I were going to make political statement, child care would be the issue."

Dossier was reported by Sally Silverman, a freelance writer.