A Crowdsourcing Community for Inventors AND Influencers!

You walk into your bathroom early morning; half awake and BOOM…your foot hits the bathroom scale! Your toe is red and you think angrily, I wish there was a way to fold away this stupid scale! You then go on with your business, and off to the rest of your day, forgetting about this idea that might have been your missed million dollar opportunity.

How many times have we had those very brief and passing thoughts that usually start with “I wish that item ABC could do XYZ…life would be much easier”? But we never give too much thought to them because most of us think that our ideas have no market value. This is exactly what the social media site quirky.com is all about.

I stumbled upon this amazing website when someone on my Twitter account was advertising for his “invention” through quirky.com. So I curiously right-clicked, opened a new tab, and started reading what Quirky is all about. To my amazement, I found an incredible community!

Quirky is a group of “Inventors” that have such “I wish…” thoughts for little gadgets.  They suggest their ideas to a mass audience called “Influencers” whom, with the help of the site’s administrators, guide the invention process and refine it through different stages until it is ready to be produced and sold.

At this final stage, a minimum number of products have to be pre-ordered to justify the mass production, after which the “Inventor” gets about 30 percent of the sales, quirky.com takes another 30 percent for their investment in design time (quite significant, about $100,000 for some products), and the rest is divided amongst all the “Influencers” that helped make it happen.

So, I quickly registered using Facebook (how convenient!) and started influencing product ideas  that I thought would be useful. To be frank with you, after helping with a few products, I found that the monetary gain is not that attractive.  It’s the thought and feeling of having successfully influenced a product until production that seem the most gratifying. And therein lies the power of this digital community!

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What I really love about this company is its openness. The owner and his team are in direct relation with their members and are honest and straight forward with everyone. Everyone has tons of fun suggesting and influencing products, and comments are accepted as constructive criticism that allow for great products to emerge.

Now, how is intellectual property managed? I won’t go in details but the site is also very clear about that as well, and stipulates that the entire idea becomes Quirky’s property (unless there are patents of course).  Quirky is free to leverage the idea as it wills, always rewarding the inventor and influencers of course. This is the perfect example of an efficient crowdsourcing process.

This seems to work for smaller gadgets now, but could this basic and instinctive process be the next PLM standardized evolution?

Next time you start a thought with “I wish…” try to take note of it, you never know, it might be the next big thing!