Deanne Bell is the host of CNBC’s “Make Me A Millionaire Inventor.” The hit reality show is on a mission to find the best inventions never made and bring them to market. In each episode, Bell and her cohost George Zaidan scour the country looking for amazing ideas they’re convinced can make big money. They track down the inventors and give them a second chance to bring their ideas and dreams to life. The inventors are given the resources and help they need to take their products from concept to reality; they’ll prototype, test and perfect their inventions while preparing for the biggest pitch of their lives.
I caught up with Bell to find out more about Make Me A Millionaire and her important work as CEO of Future Engineers.
“My parents just encouraged me to be creative. Whether it was me selling something or going in the backyard and using power tools to build something, I was encouraged to build and create,” Bell said.
By middle school she knew she wanted to be an inventor. She loved the creative process and as she got older, Bell said she realized she couldn’t get a degree in “inventing,” so she went with the next best thing – mechanical engineering. Bell designed opto-mechanics for military aircraft sensors and worked as a senior application engineer for a CAD software startup. Her previous television hosting credits include PBS, ESPN, Discovery Channel, National Geographic and DIY Network.
Today, she is the head of Future Engineers, an education platform that hosts and develops design challenges for young innovators, K-12. They recently launched their fifth challenge in conjunction with The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Foundation and NASA. This year, The Mars Medical Challenge encourages students to create a digital 3D model of an object that could be used by an astronaut to maintain physical health on a 3-year mission to Mars. The winner of the first challenge they hosted in 2014 was the first student design to be made in space, Bell said.
Future Engineers is a 2016 Small Business Innovation Research grant awardee from the U.S. Department of Education and was named a Breakthrough Award winner by Popular Mechanics in 2015.
The excitement that goes into creating something from nothing is an environment that Bell thrives in and her work on “Make Me A Millionaire Inventor” goes hand in hand with it. She said viewers get a real inside peek into the world of entrepreneurship. “There’s so many different inventors and inventions that we work with and each are at a difference process. On some of the episodes we guide intellectual property and what it means. There’s also time involved and time to market is really relevant. Every inventor has a different idea of how they grow their business. Some inventors want to be CEO and sell products directly [to consumers] and some want to license their intellectual property. It depends on the inventor and where they’re at and what they want,” Bell said.
“Make Me A Millionaire Inventor” is currently in its second season and airs Thursday nights at 10 p.m. (EST) on CNBC.