DAYTONA BEACH SHORES
A local inventor of a patented product that can allow users to replace screws in eyeglasses within seconds will be in the national spotlight Friday morning as a guest on ABC’s “Steve Harvey” daytime talk show.
When the interview segment, taped in Chicago two weeks ago, airs at 9 a.m., Nancy Tedeschi, creator of the SnapIt Screw eyeglass repair kit, will be able to watch it on television from the comfort of her oceanfront condominium in Daytona Beach Shores.
She moved here a year and a half ago to be close to a sister who also has a condo in the Shores.
Tedeschi, 58, came up with the idea for the SnapIt Screw in 2007 after her mother returned from a vacation trip where she lost a screw to her eyeglasses and solved the problem by sticking an earring with dangling beads in its place.
Her mother said she received compliments from several people upon seeing the dangling beads from her eyeglasses. That inspired Tedeschi to look into making and selling a line of eyeglass charms she dubbed iBobs.
Tedeschi’s frustration in working with the tiny screw needed to attach the charm to an eyeglasses frame led to her inventing a screw with a tab that could be used as a guide. Once the screw is inserted, the tab could then be broken off.
“Necessity is the mother of invention,” she said in describing her “a-ha moment.”
Tedeschi, who owned a title insurance company in upstate New York at the time, said she realized the potential of a screw with a snap-off tab was even greater than the eyeglass charms and decided to patent her invention and develop a business around it instead.
“I knew what was out there and I knew what I had,” she said. “I could fix a pair of glasses in 10 seconds and it takes them (users of standard eyeglass repair kits) 10 minutes.”
Marta Machin, a licensed optician at the LensCrafters optical store at Volusia Mall, said she and the store’s other opticians use SnapIt Screws to repair eyeglasses for customers. “They’re great because they fit a number of different size frames,” she said, adding that the patented screws are also easy to use.
Machin said her comments were not meant as an endorsement by her company of Tedeschi's product.
SnapIt Screw eyeglass repair kits are now carried in 1,200 Wal-Mart stores around the country, including the Orlando area, but not yet at stores in the Volusia-Flagler area. Tedeschi said she has been told that Wal-Mart plans to eventually carry her products in all its U.S. stores. The suggested retail price for the kit is $4.98. It can also be purchased online via snapitscrew.com.
Tedeschi got Wal-Mart’s attention in 2013 when she was one of two runners-up in the retail giant’s national “Get On The Shelf” contest, which also resulted in her getting exposure for her product on NBC’s “Today Show” as well as ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Tedeschi initially oversaw the manufacturing and distribution of products herself, but in 2012 signed a North American distribution deal with global eyeglass wear giant Essilor, which followed up that deal in 2013 by becoming the exclusive licensee for SnapIt Screws for the optical market in the United States and Canada. That deal made Tedeschi a millionaire, she said.
Tedeschi, who has more than two dozen patents for her SnapIt Screw as well as other inventions, is hoping to land a similar licensing deal in Europe. Her son and a sales manager recently established an office for Snap-It Screw products in London.
Tedeschi has been the subject of write-ups in numerous national publications, including Bloomberg Businessweek and Kiplinger’s, and has given speeches on how she invented and successfully brought her product to market. In 2013, she was the keynote speaker for the inaugural Spring Entrepreneurial Leadership Summit at Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Earlier this month, she was the keynote speaker at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office’s “Women’s Innovation Day” in Manhattan.
Having been fairly low-key locally since moving to the area, Tedeschi said she is now ready to become more involved. She attended last week’s Cairns Foundation Innovation Challenge at Daytona Beach International Airport.
She said one of her goals now is to find a local venue where she can start teaching classes for aspiring inventors. She said she would like to impart the lessons she has learned, both in what to do as well as what to not do. “I’ve made my share of mistakes,” she said.
Only a small percentage of people who come up with inventions are able to successfully take those products to market, she said.
“They say America is the most innovative country in the world,” Tedeschi said, “but the problem is, if you work for a big company and invent a product, you don’t own the rights to it and if you don’t work for a big company chances are you don’t have the money to develop and commercialize your product.”
In addition, there are those out there ready to take unfair advantage of inventors, she said.
“I gave a company $10,000 to take (SnapIt Screws) to market.” she said of her early efforts to get her business off the ground. “Nine months later, they hadn’t done a thing.”
Tedeschi said she only got her money back after threatening to take legal action.
“The invention is the easy part,” she said. “It’s the rest of it that can be a nightmare.”
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