Kevin Bunn’s “SockDock” will have to settle for the next next big thing, falling just short Friday in NBC’s “Today” show’s “Next Big Thing” competition for budding home inventors.
A panel of judges including NBC weatherman Al Roker and QVC executives Anna Baker and Jill Martin picked the “Frywall” from Brooklyn inventor Yair Reiner as the winner. He’ll get a $150,000 product order and a Saturday spot on home-shopping channel QVC to sell his product, aimed at cutting down on the grease spatter of cooking at home.
As runners-up, Bunn and “BootBand” inventor Krista Barnett will each still get a $5,000 product order. Bunn said it’s never easy to be a runner-up, but three days of steady online sales certainly helps.
“I’m very competitive, so it sucks to lose, but the exposure was incredible,” Bunn said. “The website has been constantly getting orders for the past three days; my phone’s dinging every 20 seconds. The web traffic has been incredible.”
Bunn’s “SockDock” is a washable caddy that aims to cure the anxieties of mismatched socks lost in the wash. Socks are paired up and secured on an elastic string, and Bunn offers a touch of whimsy with a plastic foot-shaped hanger. He also believes he’s made the sock drawer obsolete.
“It saves time, it saves money, and most importantly, it saves relationships by keeping socks in pairs so you never have to sort, match or search for socks ever again,” Bunn said in his 20-second intro Wednesday morning on the “Today” show.
The “SockDock” ended up winning the day on Wednesday. Through online fan voting, Bunn’s invention beat out the “Bunjiball,” a tennis ball with an elastic string boasting longer throws for those playing fetch with their dog, and the “Gas Cap Grip,” a grip designed to make it easier to loosen and tighten gas caps.
To prepare for his national television debut, Bunn said he practiced his pitch in front of his son’s telescope. The real deal turned out not being as daunting as he thought.
“It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be,” Bunn said. “There’s not as many people on the set, so you kind of forget about the millions of people looking at you through that little camera.”
In Friday’s finale, Bunn said the competitors taped their intros, and the nerves of a changed life started to get to him. He said it took two or three takes to get the 20-second clip, but that he felt better after watching veteran “Today” host Matt Lauer take five or six takes himself.
Bunn said Friday that he and his family are on their way back to Clayton and back to the grind of an at-home pitchman.
“We are super excited and grateful for this opportunity, and we are extremely lucky to have an amazing hometown like Clayton who pulls together to support their own,” Bunn said last Thursday after learning online voting had made him a finalist.