Friday, August 29, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Locals inventors need votes to land a deal with Walmart

Alisa Dube, a Cherry Hill West grad who lives in West Chester, demonstrating how the Multifunctional Lid is a lock-tight pasta strainer. It was one of four "Around the House" products in Walmart.com´s "Get on the Shelf" contest.
Alisa Dube, a Cherry Hill West grad who lives in West Chester, demonstrating how the Multifunctional Lid is a lock-tight pasta strainer. It was one of four "Around the House" products in Walmart.com's "Get on the Shelf" contest.

Been burned by steam while pouring water from a hot pot of pasta?

Been bummed by a can of beer or soda getting warm and flat on a hot day?

If so, you might want to vote for a couple of local inventions competing to be sold by Walmart.

Imagine a lid that locks in place and has a built-in strainer. That’s the Multifunctional Lid, invented by Alisa Dube, a Cherry Hill West grad, and her dad, Phil Michnik.

The Kool-Z, a cooler customized to fit 12-ounce cans, has a trio of inventors: Austin Benton of Center City, Ryan Conlin of Easton, and P.J. Vrabel of Bethlehem.

They’re up against Elvis Presley bedding and laundry bags that bundle socks, in the “Around the House” round of Walmart’s online “Get on the Shelf” contest. The four triumphed over hundreds of other wannabes to make it this far.

Voting, which just started Tuesday, ends today at midnight, and the winner will be sold by Walmart.com, providing it passes further testing. Outselling winners in the three other categories could land the grand prize, which includes special promotional treatment.

Rules limit votes to one per day per person (or device), but permit voting for more than one product.

Dube’s “aha moment” came after a slip of a regular lid led to lost pasta, she says on the Multifunctional Lid’s  Walmart video

“The lid can actually be used as a colander. It can used as a hot pad. The lid is secure,” she says.

It’s so secure, you can put the whole thing upside-down in a sink. “You don't have to hold lid or pot. And you can do something else while it drains," her father said by phone.

The lid fits a particular pot, “so basically it's a set with such lids," explained Michnik, a former programmer turned full-time inventor. It also adjusts to control the rate of draining or vapor escape, according to their website for their company, Cookware Magic.

Benton, a financial manager, studied business at Lehigh University with Conlin, who knew Vrabel from high school days, Benton said.

The Kool-Z’s turnable opening allows consumers to drink directly from it, then seal it shut again, to keep it fresh. “No more lip grossness,” is one of their selling points, as seen on the Kool-Z Walmart video.

The current prototype is the fifth design of the product, which is patented and nearly ready for manufacture, Benton said, noting that the contest doesn’t bar winners or losers from also selling their products elsewhere.

To learn more, or to vote, got to Walmart’s “Get on the Shelf” page. Scroll down to see videos for each of the four “Around the House” products.

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.

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