A. J. Khubani gave the world the PedEgg and Ambervision sunglasses.
A. J. Khubani has spent decades convincing people to buy products they didn’t know they needed. He hit the stratosphere with the PedEgg, which has sold 45 million units. His other successes include Ambervision sunglasses and the Windshield Wonder. Fox affiliate My9 NJ recently aired a 20-minute segment profiling the infomercial maestro on the 30th anniversary of his billion-dollar company, TeleBrands.
Khubani says his first paid gig was shoveling snow at age 8. His first investment? He bought a paper route from his neighbor for $20: “It was a good deal because I made $10 a week, so I recovered my investment in just two weeks.”
He went on to become a busboy, which he describes as an incredibly detailed job that taught him everything he needed to know about management. When he was in college during the nationwide recession in the early eighties, he realized how hard it was going to be to land a good-paying job right out of school. That’s when the entrepreneurial gears started to turn. By the time he was a senior, he had saved up $20,000 working for his father’s importing business, but found that wasn’t enough to buy a McDonald’s franchise or even a taxi.
“I started thumbing through the National Enquirer and started seeing all these advertisements of these mail-order products.”
“I started thumbing through the National Enquirer and started seeing all these advertisements of these mail-order products,” says Khubani. “I thought, this is an interesting business, I could probably afford to buy an ad in the National Enquirer, find some product to sell, and people will send me money. So I got the bug.”
His first ad cost him $7,000. That was for a Sony Walkman knockoff, with which he broke even after selling 2,000 units. His first success was a pair of $10 massage slippers. TeleBrands Inc. launched in 1983 in Fairfield, New Jersey.
Khubani was well on his way to the mantle of “Infomercial King,” a tag he lives up to but doesn’t let go to his head.
“I’m satisfied with what I do, I work hard, I get rewarded in a nice way selling products that people like,” he says.
Nine out of 10 items flop.
Nine out the 10 items Khubani tests flop, he says, but some disasters do make it through the vetting process, including the infamous Potty Putter, which enabled you to practice your putt from the comfort of your bathroom throne.
His favorite product of all time? He says it’s the Ped Egg: “Partly because I invented it. Secondly because it’s such a great product. And thirdly because it has the biggest sales of any product we’ve ever sold.”
When Khubani started in the As Seen on TV business, products were sold to the customer via phone and mail order only. Today, online ordering is a big percentage of sales. But Khubani was the visionary who realized that product awareness created by the commercials could drive sales of As Seen on TV products in retail. When direct sales of a product began to slow, he would release the product to retail stores, creating a secondary market that drove TeleBrands sales to the stratosphere. Today, you can find TeleBrands products prominently displayed in nearly every drug and discount store in the country.
If you’re interested in the day-to-day life of Khubani and his family, check out this piece from the New York Times.