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Buffalo inventor sneaks on "Shark Tank" Friday

By Alan Pergament

A Buffalo native who has been an inventor and entrepreneur since high school is scheduled to appear on Friday night's episode of the popular ABC reality series "Shark Tank."

Tim Talley, a graduate of Hutch-Tech, will be trying to convince Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, Daymond John, Robert Herjavec and Kevin O'Leary to invest in "modular sneaker laces" that he has been marketing for several years in 28 countries.

The program airs at 9 p.m. Friday on Channel 7, the local ABC affiliate.

According to an ABC release, the laces "enable kids and adults to customize their sneaker looks with different styles and colors."

Talley, who founded a company called U-Lace Customizing Lacing Systems in 2009, now lives in Rochester.

In a telephone interview, he said he was one of about 3,000 people who went to an open "Shark Tank" tryout in Philadelphia about 10 months ago in hopes of making it on this season. He added 40,000 people tried out in various cities across the country and he beat the odds by being one of less than 200 who were invited to shoot an episode this season.

Those figures are nothing compared to the odds that one could guess how many color and pattern combinations his product has. Talley said there are 500 billion color and pattern combinations.

Training for "Shark Tank" sounds as hard as inventing a product like U-Lace.

 "The process of training for the show took months of preparation," explained Talley. He said he wrote a script that had to be revised repeatedly so he could deliver a 90-second pitch that was upbeat and made the Sharks interested.

His own story is an interesting one. He said he has been an inventor since his Hutch-Tech days, when he sold a product called Tim-Tiny Buttons. "They were hand made, I sold 500 buttons a week at a dollar a button," said Talley. "People knew me as creative and entrepreneurial all the way back to high school."

He graduated from the University at Rochester in 1988 and received a master's in business administration from Duke in 1992.

His biography on his U-Lace website notes that he has had more than 20 years of experience "in marketing, brand strategy and product innovation." That would include working at New Era Cap Company,Revlon, Nestle and Eastman Kodak.

His biography also states that "U-Lace was named the No. 1 hot new trend product in Japan for 2010 and is carried in such prestigious trend shops as Collette in Paris.”

Hmm. Talley is as mum as Buffalo Sabres Owner Terry Pegula on what happens Friday in an episode that was shot months ago.

You might think that Cuban, who owns the NBA Dallas Mavericks, would have a special interest in a trendy product for sneakers --- that’s if he thinks Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki would wear them and this idea is marketable to basketball players as well as people who play any sport.

Of course, predicting what is going to happen in "Shark Tank" can be much more dangerous than predicting what is going to happen in the NBA playoffs or in the Sabres front office.




Television | TV news
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About Talkin' TV

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament has continued to blog about television topics since retiring in 2010 as The News' television writer after 28 years on the beat. From local on-air personalities to ratings to the latest on network and cable programming, he keeps you informed.

@StillTalkinTV |