Thursday, July 3, 2014

How Quirky Screens New Product Ideas

By now you've heard of Quirky.* If not, an online search will bring up the site with this description: Shop for the world's best products, invented by real people like you. If you've got an incredible idea for a product, we want to know about it.

Quirky is one of several firms providing platforms for crowdsourcing new product ideas and transforming the most promising into marketable merchandise--in a matter of weeks, not years. 

The New York-based firm receives thousands of idea submissions every week, winnows them down to about a dozen, puts these to votes by employees and the public, and moves several winning ideas into preproduction every week. Every week--accelerating the new product development process to Internet speed. No wonder Quirky's revenues are projected to surpass $100 million in 2014.

Quirky has been especially interested in developing product concepts in specific categories: electronics/power, travel, parenting, health and fitness, home and garden, kitchen, and play. Just recently it announced a major "smart home" products initiative. It's also partnering with GE on products like smart air conditioners (see video below) and smart lightbulbs.

 

So how does Quirky screen the thousands of new product ideas it receives every week? 
  • First, it eliminates ideas that are very much like existing products. Or that don't solve a customer problem as well as an existing product. Or that are already being worked on by Quirky people.
  • Second, it eliminates ideas for products that are too complex. Or unnecessary--meaning they don't deliver valued benefits.
  • Third, it eliminates ideas for small niche products that would appeal to a target market too tiny to scale for profitability.
  • Fourth, it eliminates ideas that can't be produced with currently feasible technology. 
  • Fifth, it eliminates ideas that fall outside its concept categories. If Quirky expands into that category, however, it will review the product idea at a later date.
* Unfortunately, Quirky went bankrupt in September, 2015.

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