Check it Out: Why it's Good to Be Quirky
Imagine this scenario: You've thought of a way to reinvent in-home air conditioning. You go through the process of sketching the idea and sharing details of what's going to make your invention a revolution in the product category. However, you're overwhelmed by what the next step could be. Do you have a marketing strategy? How much does it cost to make your idea a reality? Who do you connect with to help put this product in consumers' homes?
Dr. Garthen Leslie of Columbia, Md., creator of the Aros air conditioning unit, felt the same way. That is, until his idea was submitted to Quirky.
Quirky is a creative manufacturer/retailer that uses the power of crowdsourcing to produce products from ideas submitted by everyday people. Its mission is to make invention accessible by using the power of community to create a platform that helps consumers’ ideas become reality. Ben Kaufman, CEO of Quirky, founded the New York City-based company in 2009. Since then, he's grown it into a $50 million dollar business.
Here's how Quirky works: Consumers submit their ideas via Quirky's website, then product managers who oversee five distinct categories (electronics and power; health and fitness; home and garden; kitchen; and travel and adventure) and a separate category for miscellaneous ideas titled "Everything Else" are tasked with organizing the nearly 3,000 submissions the company gets every week. Quirky's staff then narrows the pool of ideas down to about a dozen for a live community forum that takes place every Thursday night at the company's headquarters.
"The Eval," as it's known, is a panel of judges that comprises manufacturing industry experts, retailers, Quirky's staff and the brand's online community (which is approaching 1 million "members"). It debates and ultimately votes to decide which will be the next three products produced by Quirky. By a vote of hands, the products are chosen that night. Following product selection, the manufacturing process moves into full gear. The Quirky community has the power to influence the design and packaging of each product up until Quirky's global manufacturers begin making decisions that will impact a product's distribution.