PORTLAND, Maine — About 800 people showed up to pitch their ideas to casting directors for ABC’s reality show, “Shark Tank,” on Wednesday, in what was their first step toward the elusive dream of becoming nationally televised celebrity entrepreneurs.

The casting call was held at the Italian Heritage Center in Portland, and according to organizers and sponsors from U.S. Cellular, it was the largest attended leg in a three-city tour that also included Knoxville and Oklahoma City.

“I wanted to bring this unique opportunity to Mainers,” said Matt Kasper, director of New England sales for U.S. Cellular. “There’s nothing better than Portland in July and this area is brimming with entrepreneurial ideas.”

The turnout reflected that, with a line of inventors, business owners and entrepreneurs circling the building twice for a chance to pitch their product to the show runners. The first 500 in line were guaranteed a minute with the production staff and designated with a blue bracelet.

Scott Salyers, “Shark Tank’s” supervising casting producer, said that his staff sought “personality and passion,” above anything else.

“More than likely what they are pitching we’ve seen before, so what is going to set somebody apart is their personality and the way they pitch it,” said Salyers. “If somebody comes up to me and says that their product speaks for itself, we don’t want them on the show.”

According to Salyers, the process to actually getting in front of the “sharks” — sales and entrepreneurial gurus selected for their status in the bloodthirsty corporate world — is a long one that usually includes about 10 waves of screening and interviews.

If they win a rare chance to pitch to those sharks, entrepreneurs will have gone through their routines multiple times. The drama of the show hinges on whether the celebrity sharks decide to invest their own money in it. If none of the sharks decides to make a deal, the contestant walks away with nothing.

“Nobody sees the sharks until they get onto the show,” said Saylers. “By the time they get to the sharks, we know their company or product through and through.”

So what kind of ideas did entrepreneurs from all over the country bring to Maine during the casting call?

The “Wading Room” brimmed with potential contestants sipping U.S. Cellular’s free coffee while honing the details of a wide variety of pitches.

Connected living

Going over his elevator speech out loud was Alex Sargent, a Mainer who’s been in the moving and storage industry for more than a decade and views managing one’s possessions as a “$24 billion problem.”

“We need a smarter way of cataloging and condensing your belongings,” said Sargent.

Sargent’s idea would essentially digitize everything you own.

“It’s a little infuriating to me, because there’s millions of people, storing thousands of dollars worth of stuff, and there’s no real system in place for monitoring it digitally,” said Sargent. “It’s economically irrational. There’s no quick way of assessing value.”

Sargent joined the line of people in the “Shark Tank” casting call, because he needs capital to move his idea from concept to product.

“Imagine the applications. Imagine never having to make a duplicate purchase,” said Sargent. “You could just hit Ctrl-F and search through all of your things.” … It’s called connected living.”

Wearable cup holders

Sitting in the front row of chairs, right next to the opening in the curtains where people entered five at a time to pitch their idea to casting directors, was Russel Murray, wearing three cup holders on his arms and leg.

The cup holders were made from paper and plastic with a design featuring many international flags. Each cup holder could be taken off with Velcro pads. According to Murray, his product comes with binoculars and will be very popular for concerts and sporting events. He hopes to catch the attention of a 2018 World Cup marketing group.

“This combo beverage holster and binocular kit will be very popular,” said Murray. “The concept is hands free everything.”

‘Where is the bus?’

After remembering the stress and anxiety of not knowing when your school bus would arrive as a kid, Chris Bunnel from Portland, realized that he had the technical skills to solve that problem. Bunnel created an app that allows students and parents to know exactly where school buses are at any given time.

“It puts the information in the palm of their hand,” said Bunnel. “Before I would always wonder, ‘Where is the bus?’”

According to Bunnel, the app would allow parents to send their child outside exactly when the bus is arriving and it also sense them updates when they’re dropped off at school. He’s already spoken with a lot of interested parents and investors and believes that even if he doesn’t get on “Shark Tank,” his app will be successful.

Talking plants

Talking excitedly about his product to other entrepreneurs waiting with him was Al Benner, the owner and founder of Powerful Plants, which aims to combine technology and gardening for educational purposes.

Benner had with him a collection of vegetable seed packets that looked more like trading cards. Designed to get kids “re-excited” about going outdoors and gardening, each type of seed was presented as a character. A green Hulk-like monster called the “Italian Giant,” is pictured on one seed packet for parsley, while another shows a T-Rex made out of kale, with the name, “Dino Kale.”

“I’ve got about 70 different characters,” said Benner. “I got the idea from staring at my two sons play Pokemon for hours. I wanted them to do something more educational. I’m using technology to teach them what plants are healthy and how to grow them.”

This is where the technology part comes in. Using the free “Powerful Plants” app, one can position their smartphone or tablet over a seed pack and watch the character spring to life through augmented reality, with 2 minutes of informative, and often funny dialogue. Benner also has a line of interactive books with the same feature and is looking for funding to expand into a trading card game.

“All the characters come to life behind the screen,” said Benner. “You know, I really did have some parents tell me that their kids were bugging them to buy kale at the supermarket.”

Style for slobs

Pamela Riesenberg said she got her idea after her husband went out to a wedding wearing a top hat, a cane, a black suit and white socks. After that, her husband committed what she considered fashion suicide, wearing socks with flip flops.

“Some men just don’t know how to dress,” said Riesenberg. “Guys need help.”

Struck aback by her husband’s lack of style, Riesenberg wondered if other men had similar fashion problems and created Mix Match Men, an online style guide that promises to find and buy a trendy outfit in five minutes.

“We’ve got these patches, a football, a basketball, a soccer and a baseball, to designate certain types of clothes,” said Melanie Billings, a partner in the business venture.

As of now, there’s nothing on the style guide website except for an “about” page. The company doesn’t own any licensed products. Riesenberg, who described herself as very nervous before the pitch, was armed with nothing but her idea, enthusiasm and hopes to convince the casting directors that Mix Match Men can partner with big stores.

“I think they liked it,” said Risenburg after her one-minute pitch with the show runners.

Other ideas trotted out Wednesday included leather jackets embedded with LED lighting to promote safety and a lightweight all-terrain vehicle that could double as a golf cart.

The next season of “Shark Tank” is scheduled to begin on Sept. 25. To participate in the casting call, fill out an application in advance at abc.go.com/shows/shark-tank/applications.