Meet the Inventors and Influencers of Quirky

The crowdsourced consumer-product company relies on a host of active community participants. Here are a few standouts.
Magazine Contributor
4 min read

This story appears in the August 2011 issue of . Subscribe »

The Inventors

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

Cost: $29.99

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

Cost: $29.99

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."

The Influencers

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 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." 

More from Entrepreneur
Our Franchise Advisors will guide you through the entire franchising process, for FREE!
  1. Book a one-on-one session with a Franchise Advisor
  2. Take a survey about your needs & goals
  3. Find your ideal franchise
  4. Learn about that franchise
  5. Meet the franchisor
  6. Receive the best business resources
Use code MARKET2021 through 4/24/21 to save on 12 marketing books for entrepreneurs that are recommended by entrepreneurs:
  • Digital Marketing Handbook
  • No B.S. Guide to Direct Response Social Media Marketing
  • Ultimate Guide to Youtube for Business
  • And more
Whether you want to learn something new, be more productive, or make more money, the Entrepreneur Store has something for everyone:
  • Software
  • Gadgets
  • Online Courses
  • Travel Essentials
  • Housewares
  • Fitness & Health Devices
  • And More

Latest on Entrepreneur