Quirky Product Idea Factory

At Internet Week in June, I got a quick look at a 3-D printer or fabricator that was being demoed by the  folks at MakerBot Industries.  Their device is one part of a larger do-it-yourself movement in which both serious inventors and designers or ordinary hobbyists can prototype products in their own living rooms.

Inventing is a lonely process and development costs, though they have come down with this new crop of 3-D printers, is still a consideration.  So why not crowdsource the design, protoyping, and marketing phases? That’s kind of the idea behind NYC-based Quirky. 

The company was founded by Ben Kaufman, who is himself a product designer-entrepreneur: he started mophie, the iPod accessory company.  Quirky is his newest venture, and it  enables would-be inventors to submit (at $99) and develop their product ideas with feedback from the community, but without taking burdensome financial risks.  Through the company website, the Quirkians offer refinement  and ultimately vote on the worthiness of the idea—Quirky’s expert staff weighs in on the feasibility and votes as well.

If an idea is selected,  Quirky steps in and does the actual design work and places an initial pre-sales order, which the idea originator has to purchase and resell.   Once it has proven itself in pre-sales, the product heads to  the virtual shelves of the Quirky store.  A portion of the revenues is then directed  back to the community and the product originator.

You can check for yourself  the results of the Quirky crowdsource model at their store.  There is an emphasis on toys, housewares, and electronics. BTW: Be sure to take a look at the very clever Pivot Power flexible power outlet.

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