As soon as the new specs for the iPhone 5 arrived last week, the users at Quirky, a worldwide group of inventors, began submitting their ideas. In 24 hours the community, now over 240,000 strong, had pitched nearly 2,000 new products. In a rapid fire evaluation session with CEO Ben Kaufman, the field was narrowed to 50. And over the next week, the team of designers and engineers working in house, prototyped, lasercut, and 3D printed their way to a set of 15 finished products which went on sale today at fellow Silicon Alley startup Fab.com.
Quirky is a New York startup focused on what it calls social product design. Its community submits the ideas, contributes to design sessions, brainstorms on branding, and helps to determine what price the market would pay. Quirky's team then takes the product the rest of the way, from assembling prototypes to finding the factory that will manufacture it, crafting the packaging and ensuring it gets on the shelves at locations like Target and Best Buy.
The company recently raised a $68 million round of funding to expand its operations. To date it has created more than 200 products — everything from a multi-purpose BBQ tool to the iPhone 5 bike / car mount you can see in the video above — and is on track to earn $20-30 million in revenue this year.
Everything from a multi-purpose BBQ tool to an iPhone 5 bike / car mount
"Quirky removes all the complexities of bringing independent inventors' ideas to market," wrote founder Ben Kaufman, in an email from China, where he fly this past weekend to kick off the manufacturing talks with suppliers. "Getting one single idea on to a store shelf presents so many obstacles and requires so many different disciplines. Just being creative isn't enough — one needs an understanding of engineering, design, branding, manufacturing, tooling all the way through to sales and marketing. Quirky removes all of these complexities for inventors."