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Website of the Week: A quirky new path to market for product ideas


Last year we featured an interesting Website of the Week called NameThis, the brainchild of 22 year-old entrepreneur Ben Kaufman. It applied the crowdsourcing model to help companies name their products.

Well, Kaufman, who also founded mophie and kluster, is back with a new variation on NameThis: quirky.

The premise is this: entrepreneurs and creative people in general are bubbling with far more product ideas than they can possibly pursue. Consequently, these ideas end up dormant or exploited by someone else. Described by Kaulfman as a “social product development company”, quirky invites users to submit their product ideas for US$99 each – this ensures that only the best ideas are lodged. The quirky community selects one product from the pool of submitted ideas every seven days. From there, the community (known as “influencers”) weighs in by voting, rating and influencing other people’s product ideas.

The crowdsourced collaboration extends to every aspect of product creation – from ideation, design, naming, manufacturing, marketing and sales. The final product is pre-sold at the quirky online store. Once the product hits its pre-sales threshold, credit cards are charged and the product commences the production and delivery stage. Thirty cents out of every dollar a quirky product makes goes back to the quirky community, with 12 of these 30 cents going to the person who originally suggested the idea.

So far the quirky community has chosen two products to focus on: a universal cord retractor called the Sling Back, and the Ouch Pouch, a psychodelic arm sling. Neither product has reached the pre-sale level required to trigger production.

quirky is yet another way for creative people to collaborate over the web to create something of value. Kaufman seems to have a knack for tweaking his business models to ensure that all parties involved in the process see a carrot dangling before them that is of sufficient size to warrant their participation. Having said that, the 12 percent return to the person who suggests the idea could be a little pumper.

Ultimately, many companies spend far more than US$99 to receive the kind of valuable pre-market research that the quirky community can provide.

Here’s a 30 second video explaining quirky, and below it Kaufman explains his entrepreneurial path to quirky.