With the Gadget Show airing on a weekly basis on the box as well opening its doors in Birmingham in April, there are few tech innovators unaware of what a great spot this is to show the world their wares. Dubbing itself as the tech gourmet’s gateway to getting their hands on the newest gear on the market, for many innovators and consumers alike, this really is the hottest tech ticket around.
In this article, Andrew McGee of Alba Innovation Centre speaks to Alexander Bradley of Cobra Simulation who shares his personal experience of being filmed and the film not being used then turning down a couple of offers to appear on the Gadget Show and finally what happened when he did get his innovation on the box. Alex’s experience provides great insight for any tech innovator keen to get on this prestigious show, so if you’re hoping to get your hands on the golden Gadget Show ticket, read on.
Getting your name in the Gadget Show hat
When asked how a tech innovator should go about getting their product featured on the Gadget Show, Alex’s response is as simple and as straight talking as Alex himself. “Pick up the phone and call the show’s researchers.” He then goes on to explain “my Mum always said, you get nothing in this world if you don’t ask, so that’s what I did.”
When it comes to things that might swing your request, Alex highlights “Britishness” and youthful companies as being particularly appealing to the Gadget Show gang. What he does say though is; “don’t be disappointed if they don’t jump on your tech bandwagon straight away. They might love your product, but simply mightn’t have the right slot for it right now. If this happens, it’s a case of making sure you’ve sold them the notion of your product in its best light, then sitting tight until they make their decision to feature you.”
He goes on to say, “naturally you’ll be tempted to chase them. And if you do, bear in mind that these are busy folk and their time is precious. Don’t be surprised if they don’t take your call straight away. They typically work 12-hour days and shoot on location on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so don’t even bother chasing them on these days. The other thing I’d say is that while your tech ‘baby’ might mean the world to you, don’t be disappointed if they don’t share your enthusiasm…they’re seeing equally ‘hot’ stuff day-in and day-out, so they can be a bit nonchalant about it. Just to show how cool they are; we manhandled our tech innovation in two huge 2m high boxes straight through the middle of their office and they didn’t even bat an eyelid!”
Make sure you’re ready
When the call does come to feature on the show, Alex explains, “it’s important to ask yourself if you and your product are truly ready for this sort of exposure? While a feature on the Gadget Show could skyrocket your innovation, it could equally cause it to plummet without further trace if it’s not right yet or if you’re not ready. If this is the case, don’t be afraid to wait. These folk are human and they’ll do all they can to accommodate reasonable requests. In a past life, we had one video shoot that didn’t make the show, we turned down 2 further offers because we weren’t ready and then 4th time round everything worked like clockwork for both parties.”
Reinforcing the journalistic side of the Gadget Show, Alex explains, “Another thing that’s well worth saying is don’t forget that while it’s their goal to get your product out there in its best light, they are obliged to show it, warts and all, in a completely objective way. It’s essential that you’re not offended by this, or hacked off if you’re unlucky and don’t make the final cut. Lots of innovators are filmed and end up on the cutting room floor because there simply isn’t enough time in the show. Because of this, you need to be aware that you might make all the time and financial investment needed to make the most of this opportunity just to be cut out of the show at the last minute. Don’t forget this, because it’s something you can’t control: at the end of the day, the Gadget Show simply doesn’t come with any guarantees.”
Prep, prep, prep and more prep
When it comes to being ready for your experience, Alex can’t stress enough how important it is to “be prepared and plan ahead, as well as covering yourself for break downs and technical issues. And make sure you have backups in place where possible.” He goes on to explain, “once your film slot is allocated, you’re in and out of the studio in the blink of an eye. It’s unlikely you’ll get any second chances on the day. I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to be prepared. At the end of the day, it is not the Gadget Show team’s responsibility to make sure you’re organised; they’ll deliver on the filming and they’ll (quite rightly) expect you to deliver on the product.”
Adding to this, Alex shares a really valuable nugget of information about getting what you want by saying: “don’t forget that if you want anything in particular it must be agreed and in place before the final edit. This is important because once the show has its final edit it won’t be changed under any circumstances.”
When it comes to written documentation, Alex recommends that you “make sure you have a central document that is short, simple and to the point about what branding they can use to back your product.” He adds, “it’s also a good idea to produce a list of key benefits and facts for them.” Alex explains, “This will help the presenters immensely because they review so many products and short bullet points will help them no end to present your product as best they can. What’s more, this document will be really helpful for the researchers during the final edit phase.”
When it comes to getting your kit in and out of the Gadget Show, Alex explains, “generally speaking there are people to help lift items in and out, but it’s really important to be clear ahead of time what resources you will need and if at all possible take people to help you, rather than counting on the Gadget Show team.”
Make the most of the experience
When I asked Alex how he’d sum up his experience, he said; “admittedly whilst I may not have shown it too much in the studio (I hope) I could not help but be a little star struck. We met and worked with Jason and Rachael and although they are sometimes as nervous as you are, it’s not obvious, so just be yourself, relax and don’t be shy. Once everyone got comfortable with each other we had a ball. When the cameras were off, it was a great laugh.”
Going on, Alex shares, “after your shoot it’s not unusual for the team to film upstairs or around you. At this point, you may be asked to leave the studio or just sit quietly while they work. This is normal and if you are lucky enough you will get to see how they film the sofa parts of the show.”
And asked for his final word, Alex added, “the main thing to remember is to enjoy the experience. Of course it’s a bit stressful; but butterflies in the stomach keep you on your toes and planning ahead will help. The most important thing is to have fun and don’t forget to thank everyone in the team, including the people tucked away in the office. We discovered that they love to get chocolates; that’s always a winner. You might need are few boxes to go round, so make sure your budget will stretch☺. That said, at the end of the day, if you’re a cash strapped entrepreneur, I suspect a good old fashion ‘Thank You’ will work just as well.”
You can check out Alex’s tech innovation here.
Andrew McGee is a Commercialisation Adviser at Alba Innovation Centre in Scotland where early stage tech start-up's are provided with one 2 one support across investment strategy, sales and marketing plus, financial modelling to help tech firms get to market more rapidly.