Friday, September 23, 2011

Start-Up Watch COD: Quirky compensates people for sales of products they design

The democratization of innovation continues apace, with more and more sites, communities, and apps enabling people to submit and prosper from ideas. One such site with a really interesting mission is Quirky.
The idea behind Quirky is for people to create products and submit them for consideration to the community. Well liked ideas are actually manufactured, with some of the revenue going to the inventor and the people who influence others to buy the item. It’s a multistep process:
A would be inventor submits an idea for consideration. They submit words, schematics, drawings, descriptions, whatever they think will make their item compelling to the site’s “jury” of members. The application form is a simple, well organized system to collect information about the need, the item, its competitors, and why the inventor feels it is compelling. The inventor then pays $10 to complete the submission and submit it to the voting public. Each week offers a new competition. In addition to open ended submissions, you can also respond to a product brief.
Site members vote on ideas as well as provide input and suggestions to the project. Those who participate in these stages earn what the site calls influence, which is a measure in their role of bringing the item to fruition. A site member earns influence and through it a share of the revenue for an item in a variety of ways:
  • Submitting a winning product idea
  • Submitting a winning idea in another project
  • Voting for a winning idea
  • Rating the majority of ideas in a product evaluation round
  • Participating in a product research project
  • Committing to a product in presale
The winning item is selected for further development. Whether or not you win, the site sends you information on who liked your product and the verbatim comments of evaluators. You can use that feedback to revise and resubmit an idea, or as the nucleus to help you “go it alone” with your invention.
At this point, the product begins a research, design, branding, and engineering process that culminates in a product offering for presale. If enough people commit to buying the product, it moves forward for manufacture. When the product sells, the inventor and various influencers earn money. The site says the inventor often earns about 35% of the distributed earnings. The item may only sell on the site or it may enter broader distribution.
I’ve oversimplified the process in this piece a bit, but it is plain that the many stages and many input points for the community have created a system that offers a strong opportunity for product success.
Here’s their “manifesto” vid:
As you peruse the community you quickly take note that there’s real money available here for both inventors and very active influencers. The items the site produces are unique, intriguing, and eminently giftable.
What’s great about this community is the power that it unleashes in people – to invent, to suggest, and to drive sales for great items. It is yet another example of how digital is upending virtually every sector of business, including manufacture.

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