The inventor of the ice scraper pictured above unsuccessfully spent 10 years trying to get his idea marketed, patented the concept and approaching both manufacturers and distributors before he decided to toss it to the Quirky community for good measure. Although the product that eventually emerged, called Thor, looks quite different from his initial concept and prototype, engineer Jim Johnstone said the crowdsourced invention model that Quirky offers helped validate his vision. “Sometimes there are ideas that are way beyond the capacity of an individual to bring to life,” Johnstone said.
The concept of Quirky is pretty simple. As the video below explains, the platform allows inventors to share an idea with the community. The community, in turn, offers feedback and suggestions for refinement. Every week, the community rates ideas that it thinks have a shot of becoming commercially viable, offers pricing suggestions and the Quirky team meets each week to decide which ones will move forward. Quirky’s founder created the site after his own challenging experience getting a product to market. The crowdsourcing community now greenlights approximately one product every few days.
Tiffany Markofsky, Quirky’s director of communications, said the site receives thousands of submissions every week, many of them from inventors with multiple ideas. Approximately 40 percent of the community comes from outside the United States. Products that move forward are marketed under the Quirky brand name; the company focuses not so much on flash branding but on highlighting the specific problem that the invention solves, she said. Products are shipped to more than 20 different countries; you can buy them online and Quirky has now forged plenty of relationships with high-profile retailers.