Crowd Sourcing: A Quirky new path for Entrepreneurs

a2miller    October 21, 2012

We have all had that great idea for a product or a service that will revolutionize our world but 99.9% of us don’t do anything about it. In the past the reason so many of these ideas wouldn’t develop is because of a lack of access. An idea is just an idea, for a successful entrepreneur they require design skills, legal support, marketing expertise and of course capital to even consider turning an idea into reality.

Ben Kaufman and his company Quirky is trying to change that. Using Social networking channels Kaufman and his team of  “digital venture capitalists” are attempting to use crowd sourcing to determine which entrepreneurial ideas will actually become successful. 

The internet has become the world’s largest focus group and social networks are the best way to generate feedback. Many large brands use social media effectively to understand their audiences and develop new products and Quirky is attempting to do this for entrepreneurs as well.

For a fee of $10.00 would-be entrepreneurs submit their ideas directly to the Quirky website. The internal social network of Quirky will immediately begin to offer suggestions, improvements or new perspectives on the original idea. The members of the network that share the vision of the original entrepreneur will become a partner and benefit from any coming profits.  If supported by the Quirky social network the idea moves on to the next stage and Quirky employees will begin vetting the most feasible ideas.  Using their existing relationships with large retailers like Bed Bath and Beyond, Toys R Us and Target entrepreneurs then gain unprecedented access to retail channels.

Kickstarter is perhaps the most well known example of crowd sourcing to help entrepreneurs, however Quirky is the first model to use social networking to create new partnerships and help develop ideas.  Using Social networks to develop ideas helps provide greater insight, support and strategy so anyone can take a big idea and turn it into a reality!

Lessons For Others

Steve Jobs once said “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they will want something new”.  Jobs said this in 1989 and he couldn’t have imagined at the time that we would be able to ask customers what they want WHILE the product is being developed and in the planning stages. This new model can teach us a few vital lessons;

1. Social networks provide  unprecedented access to expertise for entrepreneurs. Lack of access due to financial, geographic or knowledge resources are easily overcome through support of organized social networks like Quirky.

2. In the digital age there is greater focus on specific expertise. For example, If you have a vast knowledge of product marketing you can take that expertise and use it to help entrepreneurs who have design experience but require customers to find out about their product.

3.  Communities that leverage their knowledge and help support each other will become more powerful in the product development arena. Any product will benefit from being vetted by 500,000 community members.

Web Resources

Using Crowdsourcing for Product Development – Financial Times – http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/e66f157e-a72d-11e0-b6d4-00144feabdc0.html#axzz29yDLj277

Got a good idea? Ben Kaufman of Quirky.com Will Be the Judge of That! – New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/25/garden/ben-kaufman-quirkycom-founder-on-problem-solving-qa.html?_r=0

Quirky Homepage – http://www.quirky.com/

Submitted by: Aaron Miller, SMBP Student University of Waterloo

To contact the author of this entry please email a2miller@uwaterloo.ca

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