clever clogs

4 stupidly simple but successful new inventions

Start-up turns community-generated ideas into clever new products, paying back lifetime royalties to inventors.

A NEW START-UP company has been having great success with a series of new inventions. They look like such a simple idea – so why didn’t any of us think them up first?

The company, Quirky, is based in New York City and was founded by Ben Kaufman, a young entrepreneur who wants to help everyone with a good idea see their inventions sold to the masses. The first year, Kaufman’s team turned four community-generated ideas into products that are actually getting sold. The second, it made 20. The third year it made 40. It has turned a total of 79 ideas into products that are now sold worldwide.

People submit their million-dollar ideas to Quirky. Quirky gets about 2,000 submissions per week, and it has received 75,345 total ideas to date. It received 30 ideas in its first week alone.

Quirky then selects a few hundred submissions to design. It has a design meeting every Thursday. It then picks a few products to build. Quirky has a whole studio for creating prototypes, complete with paint and 3D printers. It has a team of people in Asia who make the products. All the while, the 316,208 community members give their feedback throughout the design process on everything from color to price point. If their suggestions are used, they get a percentage of the sales.

Quirky offers a lifetime royalty to whomever comes up with the idea. It gives the person 30% of online sales (wholesale) and 10% of retail sales (in the Bed Bath & Beyonds). The “inventor” splits those sales percentages with people in the Quirky community who helped bring the idea to life, but they still keep the vast majority of the money.

To date, Quirky has paid its community €1.51 million for their ideas. Its best-selling item is the Pivot Power, a genius power strip that can turn any which way (see below). We’ve all experienced that very annoying situation where you have to unplug a bunch of cables just to make a bigger plug fit in the last slot.

The community member who designed the Pivot Power has made about €380,000 from his portion of the retail sales, according to Kaufman.

Here are some of the most successful Quirky products ever invented.

1. Pivot Power: 495,436 sold to date

It’s a bendable power strip.

2. Cordies: 364,266 sold to date

Separates your computer wires so they don’t get tangled or lost.

3. Bandits: 223,120 sold to date

Rubberband(its?) with a hook to fasten around things.

4. The Pluck

Quirky has just launched this new product, the Pluck, that uses suction to separate an egg yolk from egg whites.

You can already do this with a water bottle, but Pluck is a more elegant solution. Here’s Quirky’s founder Ben Kaufman showing how Pluck works. It was invented by a man from a small town in Texas.

-Alyson Shontell

Published with permission from
Business Insider
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