Fruscio was getting orders for his invention as soon as people saw it.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Ricco Fruscio had just gotten a brand-new IPhone 7 and was eager to try out the gadget's "million-dollar video camera."
So he tested it by recording his golf swing — but the results weren't illuminating.
"It was just a debacle," he said. "I got some great shots of my right leg and that was all."
They say necessity is the mother of invention, but it also helps when you have the ingredients for said invention close at hand.
He had old golf clubs. He has a workshop. All it took was a quick trip to the Dollar Store for a selfie-stick. A short time later he had a device that he could stick into the ground and hold his phone. He was recording his swing — and turning heads.
Fast-forward three years later and The MediaStick wins "Best Marketing Effort" at the 2019 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla. It was one of only three honors awarded at the Inventors Spotlight, hosted by the United Inventors Association.
"I think the greatest thing about the award is it's opening doors for me," Fruscio said. "What better thing can you start out with? I'm a garage business but I got a PGA award!"
His love of golf (he works at Waubeeka Golf Links in Williamstown) may have inspired his invention but he's had a long career in business — from owning a chain of Teddy bear stores to home-building to store management. He's been the coordinator for the North Adams Chamber of Commerce for nearly five years.
Anyone who's seen Fruscio around has also seen The Media Stick that rarely leaves his side. "I use it as a cane," he laughed.
He got what he called a running start by first using his own old golf clubs and picking up selfie-sticks for a song at the Dollar Store. He cut off the head the club, drilled a hole in the handle and stuck in the phone holder. It allowed him to play around with the design and figure out what worked.
The Media Stick has been refined and upgraded in quality parts with a selection of colors, holders for both phones and tablets, tripod socket, an indoor tripod and a Bluetooth remote that can work up to 40 yards away. Fruscio sees a market not just for golf but for a wide variety of uses as well as for branding and personalizing the sticks.
"When you think of all the things that can happen," he said, shaking his head, "it just gets out of hand. I can take it to the beach, I can take it hiking."
One customer uses it to take remote pictures of the birds visiting his backyard feeder; another is a mechanic who videos the underside of vehicles to check their condition. And, of course, he's been selling packages to golf courses.
The Orlando show in January was a big step with its 100,000 attendees. He was invited to set up in the Inventors Spotlight along with 109 others. Only three awards were given out — for Most Innovative Concept, Best Marketing Effort and the Pinnacle Award (basically best in show).
Fruscio said he was only eligible for marketing, which according to Golf.com is for "inventors who develop and deliver an irresistible sales pitch that makes prospects acutely aware of the value their product is providing."
Innovation went to Fourball, an app that helps you find suitable playing partners, and Pinnacle went to Guided Knowledge's "smart suit" that captures biomechanical motion you can watch on a device, like a phone. Luckily, Fruscio happened to have a device to hold said phone that Guided Knowledge used during the show.
(In the "it's a small world" department, Fruscio was also interviewed by Golf.com in a segment directed by Dylan Dethier of Williamstown. Fruscio had asked Dethier where he was from; Dethier had told him it was a town in Western Mass he wouldn't know. Fruscio, of course, did know and they realized they had a Waubeeka link.)
Fruscio said he's been talking with an investor to take his invention to the next level. He recalled how someone had walked by his booth at the PGA show and told him, "you ought to get ready for something good's going to be happening to you."
The man was referring to the Golf.com crew headed his way but his words may turn out to be more prophetic than that.
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