Kansas-City based invention competition Make48 is becoming a nationally-televised program in September.
The inaugural season of Make48 will be featured on more than 200 public television stations via American Public Television, reaching about 70 percent of U.S. households.
Founded in 2015, Make48 challenges inventors to build a product over a weekend. For the show, however, the competition will be transformed into an educational documentary series showcasing the invention process.
Make48 CEO Tom Gray said he’s excited to show TV audiences how to go from idea to commercialized product.
“This is a chance to show the world the real life process of innovation from napkin to retail,” Gray said. “Each season, you’ll see completely different entrepreneurs and startups. We’re excited to bring awareness so that people know that it is possible and you can do it.”
During the competition, Make48 participants have access to tools, materials, a work space and expert guidance to build their products. After pitching to a panel of judges, three teams are awarded prizes, including a crowdfunding campaign and licensing consideration.
Gray said that the first season of Make48 will be broken into two parts. The first half will focus on the competitors and frenzied competition, which was held at the Kansas City Art Institute’s David T. Beals Studios for Art & Technology in October. The second half will feature Gray and others traveling the nation refining the winning prototypes and bringing the product to market. Episodes take place in Kansas City, Chicago, San Francisco, Las Vegas and others in the Midwest.
Make48 works with several large brands, including Stanley Black & Decker, QVC, Amazon Launchpad, Ace Hardware, Indiegogo, Pivot International, Handy Camel, Squatty Potty and Wet & Forget.
Gray said the show reveals a variety of creative professionals who combine their talents to build products for the audience.
“Makers are a hybrid of an artist and a business person,” Gray said. “Makers are passionate about their art and their work and are not so much focused on making money, yet they commercialize what they’re creating. Make48 shows both sides of it, bundled together in one.”
Make48 partnered with Kansas City production company Outpost Worldwide as well as Topeka-based PBS station KTWU. Gray said the decision to go with public broadcast partners afforded several appealing opportunities.
“We wanted to make something real, not scripted,” Gary said. “We chose public television over cable, which means that we get to control the content and keep it 100 percent organic and real.”
A spokesperson for KTWU said that the station is thrilled to facilitate the distribution the Make48 series nationwide.
“We are proud to offer this new and innovative invention competition to public television stations,” a KTWU spokesperson said in a release. “We believe it will spark the inventive and creative spirit in audiences of all ages, genders, and backgrounds across the nation.”
Gray attributes Make48’s success to the educational nature of the program. He believes the show will inspire people to create their own prototypes.
“Anyone can make prototypes, but not many products and prototypes get all the way through,” Gray said. “It takes a huge amount of persistence and drive to complete a project and we want to make people a lot more active.”
Applications are now open for Make48 season two, which will be filmed Sept. 28 – 30 in Kansas City. The competition will host 12 teams from 12 states. Gray said that as the series grows, he plans to host Make48 competitions in other cities.
Gray said to Kansas City’s history in manufacturing, as well as its strong coworking and startup culture, helped launch Make48.
“Kansas City is a great place for makers,” Gray said. “The city is small enough where you can get noticed, and everyone in the maker community pretty much knows each other — which is great because collaboration is key to any startup.”
Check out the gallery below to see behind-the-scenes photos.