When they write the story of the Great Recession, future historians will probably overlook the Ped Egg. That's a pity, because the device, which shaves dead skin off your feet like a cheese grater, is huge, downturn-defying success.
In fact, the Ped Egg is the most successful product in the history of its maker, TeleBrands. The firm, which calls itself the leading television marketing company, has sold some $300 million worth of them, both through its infomercials and through its retail partners, company CEO AJ. Khubani tells DailyFinance. TeleBrands offers its "As Seen on TV" products through a number of retailers, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT), Staples Inc. (SPLS) and Sears Holdings Inc. (SHLD).
TeleBrands, whose other gadgets and gizmos include the Jupiter Jack hands-free device for cell phones and the Windshield Wonder auto glass cleaner, first conceived of the Ped Egg in 2006 but shelved it for what it thought were more promising products, says Khubani, who is one of many with the unofficial title of "Infomercial King." He was a close friend of the late pitchman Billy Mays, and says he was shocked by his sudden death earlier this year.
"Starting in December 2007 [when the economy tanked] ... our sales started getting better," Khubani says. "We are seeing a bad economy we propel our economy to a new level."
TeleBrands markets products in the $10 to $20 price range, making them easily affordable for cash-strapped consumers. Sales in 2009 are expected to be flat compared to 2008, when sales doubled their 2007 levels. Khubani declined to provide more specifics about his closely held company.
Desperate TV networks have also helped bolster the company's bottom line, slashing the prices on commercial time to fire-sale rates with discounts of as much as 50%, he says. This doesn't make commercials precisely cheap now, but they are certainly less expensive than they have been.
On the Lookout for the Next 'Egg' Edison
Who has come up with the next Ped Egg, and what will it be? TeleBrands hopes the answer will come through the door during one of the periodic "Inventor's Days" competitions it holds at its headquarters in Fairfield, N.J.
Wannabe entrepreneurs get five minutes to convince Khubani and his staff that their idea is the greatest thing since the Snuggie. Among the products receiving the American Idol treatment during next week's competition at TeleBrands' New Jersey headquarters will be the "Gutter Gremlin," the "FindIt Key Finder" and the "Tearless Onion."
Khubani, who found three promising products during the last competition, has little patience for those who think his offerings are cheesy.
"The sales speak for themselves," he says.
Meet the Ped Egg: A tasty (don't call it cheesy) recession success story