Quirky is a unique service catering to those fledgling Thomas Edisons in our midst. Similar to Threadless, it’s a social network that allows inventors to upload ideas and vote on them. If a product gets enough votes, it gets manufactured and sold through the site. While stories are rife of wannabe inventors losing their life savings to dishonest organizations that prey on these hopeful individuals, Quirky appears to be legitimate and is very open about the entire process (I also have a friend who’s submitted an invention idea to Quirky and it was actually manufactured; see the image below).
There are other social networks for inventor-types such as Incuby, InventBay, InventTube and IdeaWicket, to name a few. However, Quirky strives to be as innovative as the products it helps bring to the masses.
How Does it Work?
All members can submit their new product ideas for review by fellow community members for one week. If the idea is well received and wins the “product of the week” award, then it goes into production and, ultimately, to market. All members can vote on other ideas submitted for review so everyone contributes to the network. Your standing in the community, which they term “influence,” grows as you vote on products and with each of your ideas that goes to production, which encourages everyone to get more involved.
What’s the Catch?
While it is free to join the Quirky community, submitting your product ideas is not. It costs $99 for each product idea that you submit for review. If you’re fortunate enough to get enough votes to take the product to production and market, then you share a portion of the sales with Quirky. That comes out to be approximately 12 cents for every dollar of profit that your product makes.
Even though most of the product idea submissions never make it to the production stage, each inventor gets valuable feedback about their product. Quirky likes to think of this as a built-in focus group comprised of nothing but fellow inventors (although the community does include non-inventors). In that respect, shelling out $99 to get sound advice might not be such a bad deal when compared to all of the less-than-honest organizations out there that are bilking inventors all the time.
What do you think? Would you pay $99 (or any amount) just to get voted on for a chance of making it to product and to market?