Name: Judi Sigler
Occupation: School counselor
Invention: MugStir (among others)--a spoon that clings to the side of your mug
Cost: $12.99 for a three-pack
Total Sales: $2,556.68
Inventor's share: $1,187.43
Story: "I was in the teacher's lounge searching for something to stir my coffee and I thought, 'Wouldn't it be nice to have a spoon with your mug?'" Quirky and its encouraging community helped bring the idea to fruition: "I would never have tried to patent it; I wouldn't even know where to begin."
In the works: Two solutions for college students--Ember, a portable study lamp with additional outlets, and Vesta, a hot pot for heating, serving and eating
Advice: "Google. You may think your idea is original, but do your research. Know what you're up against."
Name: Michael McCoy
Occupation: Engineer for a pharmaceutical company
Invention: Cloak, a two-in-one iPad stand and case
Total sales: $100,128
Inventor's share: $38,007.39
Story: His idea for the Cloak emerged before the iPad even hit stores. "There was all this buzz about Apple coming out with a tablet and I started thinking about the market and how [it] would be used. There was really no 'aha' moment; it was the result of a long thought process."
In the works: Cloak 2, a slimmer, more versatile version of the original
Advice: "There are a lot of good ideas out there, but you have to make sure there is a market for them and that [it's] substantial enough for your idea to be successful."
Name: Jake Zien
Occupation: User-interface software designer
Invention: Pivot Power, an adjustable power strip with six outlets
Total sales: $13,021.31
Inventor's share: $4,918.87
Story: Zien was frustrated by traditional power strips that caused outlets to block one another.
In the works: An idea for a comfortable travel pillow that he'll propose to Quirky when it's complete
Advice: Be open to constructive criticism. "It's impossible to come up with a perfect idea, and the real opportunity [that Quirky provides] is to have your idea improved. It won't be exactly what you planned … it will be better."
Name: Andrea Zabinski
Occupation: Online business owner
Products influenced: 76
Money earned from influencing: Nearly $5,000
Story: Zabinski went to Quirky as an inventor but quickly became dedicated to influencing and social selling. She achieved significant influence by providing the popular idea-turned-invention Cloak with its tagline. "I like the collaboration of inventing on Quirky. It becomes addicting to help other people. It's very rewarding. Anyone can post their ideas and have their dreams met."
In the works: Ventu, a bowl for straining, serving and storing food (her invention)
Advice: "Stick with it. Be on Quirky.com at least once a week. The key is to influence the names and designs of ideas. You can't just vote and take surveys and expect to make money."
Name: Matthew Fleming
Occupation: Clinical psychologist
Products influenced: 58
Money earned from influencing: About $4,000
Story: Fleming was an influencer from day one. "I came to the site and was inspired by Judi Sigler's MugStir submission, so I began to make video comments and suggestions about her idea. I don't think I earned much influence for that product, but I was hooked by the process and the collaboration and was eventually moved to pitch my own idea [Wrapster, a headphone cord organizer]."
In the works: An influencer at heart, Fleming says he will continue helping the Quirky community perfect their ideas.
Advice: "Think of it as trying to gather micro-royalties on products. Keep swinging that bat every day by submitting ideas, suggestions, voting, filling out the surveys and ordering products in pre-sale. Try to earn some small influence on each and every product. Success will be cumulative, and over the long haul, all those daily pennies and dollars you earn will add up."