The creators of Kluster—an online tool that allows designers to collaboratively workshop their ideas—have just announced another foray into crowd-sourced product design: Quirky. The site is an interesting mishmash of a bunch of concepts that have been floating around in social media.
Quirky farms out the vetting process for new ideas to the Quirky community, that ultimately decides if the idea gets produced. First, anyone can upload an idea for $99; and then anyone in the Quirky community can respond to the design. Eventually, the best designs become the product of the week, and those get a chance at production, provided enough people commit to buy it. So far, one product is already available for pre-order: The Slingback, a universal wire retractor that eliminates loose power cords and costs $9.99.
Here's a video that explains the basics:
So if a product gets produced and starts making money, 30% of its proceeds go back to the community as cash. 40% of that 30% goes to the product designer; the rest gets apportioned to those who commented on the design as it was competing to become product of the week. Commenters with more "influence"—as calculated by the frequency of their comments and the innovations they've tabled—get more cash. Phew—sounds complicated right?
Quirky's ingenuity lies in the way the incentives are aligned—-the community has a financial motive to stay active, and to push ideas they really believe in. Inventors get 12% of the proceeds from their design—which is rich, given that most design production deals kick about 3% to the designer. Will it work? Obviously, it depends. What the site seems to need so far is a break-out product, so that the incentives are actually rich enough to draw even more people in. And it obviously relies on a huge pool of good ideas with sexy enough production values that anyone can easily imagine them as a working product. Crackpots throwing down ideas drawn on napkins aren't going to help the site.
[Via Core 77]