Is Quirky Good for Inventors?

Many of you have heard of Quirky, a business/website that crowd sources inventions. While Quirky has enjoyed enormous success, it's never been clear if the company offers a good deal for serious independent inventors. Their processes of assigning credit to inventions, choosing which ones to commercialize, managing intellectual property and turning selected ideas into manufactured and distributed products are byzantine. Some inventors seem to be making money, but it's hard to say if the number of inventor success stories are commensurate with Quirky's efforts. What is undeniably clear is that Quirky is doing a great job of building a line of consumer products under the Quirky brand. If Quirky does an IPO I'll buy some stock in it.

But Quirky as a possible stock offering is not the question inventors need to answer. The question for inventors is whether or not Quirky should be the first or the last stop in a commercialization effort. Quirky has come to look more and more like a really smart consumer products company. Accepting invention ideas has been a great way to engage the public, build brand awareness and generate publicity and goodwill. In other words, Quirky is a typical consumer products company with an exceptional inventor-outreach program. This means that if your invention idea is a good fit with Quirky's current or planned future products then, they are possibly a good target partner. If your invention is off-target you shouldn't waste your time.

According to news reports Quirky recently entered into partnership with General Electric and is focused on creating products for the "Smart Home." This is a potentially a huge deal that could turn Quirky into a multi-billion dollar enterprise in just a few more years. If I had a great idea for the Smart Home (a product that interfaces with the Internet and/or smart phones etc) I would certainly put Quirky near the top of my list. But if I had an idea for a tool or a pet product,I'd put Quirky near the bottom. And if I had an idea for cars or a food item I wouldn't consider them at all.

Ironically, even as I write that Quirky is a good target for Smart Home ideas, I'm meeting today with an inventor who has a brilliant Smart Home idea, one that he presented to Quirky many months ago. He says that "99 out of 100 Quirky employees voted for my idea" but Quirky has yet to move on it. Who knows, his idea may become Quirky's loss and Invention City's gain!

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