A Chattanooga-area startup is facing the prospect of dramatic growth as part of Walmart's effort to use Internet opinion to determine which promising new products will earn a place in its virtual shelves.
Walmart's "Get on the Shelf" contest, which runs in concert with an online-only reality show, will pit the Chattanooga-based NODE Wireless Sensor Platform, invented by local businessman George Yu, against the Eraselet, a bracelet that also serves as a pencil eraser. The Eraselet is is based in Goodlettsville, Tenn.
After the episode, which airs tomorrow at 1 p.m., viewers will have 72 hours to vote for the product they think belongs on Walmart shelves. The winner will earn a spot on the retail giant's website, with a chance to earn an actual spot on Walmart's shelves, depending on sales.
NODE, which currently employs 15 workers in Chattanooga, reported about $500,000 in revenue last year on the sale of thousands of devices, said Alex Lavidge, business development manager at the company.
The NODE is a bluetooth-enabled sensor that can monitor weather, track motion, test impacts or any one of a number of scientific tests, and requires only a iOS or Android device to run.
The company plans to keep producing its product in Chattanooga, even if it wins a contract to supply Walmart, Lavidge said.
"The Southeast is one of the fastest-growing manufacturing spaces, and Chattanooga is in a great spot because of the low cost of living and other incentives for manufacturing," he said. "Regardless of the outcome, I don't foresee any changes regarding where we continue to do production in the future."
Read more in tomorrow's Times Free Press.