There are more opportunities than ever before for innovators to pitch their ideas. One relatively new avenue is Quirky, a online product-submission company that differentiates itself by relying on a community of influencers to help determine which ideas move into the development phase.
Is Quirky right for you? It might be, if you find yourself identifying with one of the following scenarios.
1. Your idea can’t be patented.
Unlike other similar companies, Quirky doesn’t require that submissions have intellectual-property protection. For those ideas that simply cannot be patented, this is great news.
Quirky moves quickly. In this day and age, speed to market matters most. The ugly truth is that most ideas with patent protection can be designed around with a little effort. You could try to build a wall of protection around your idea, but most ideas aren’t worth the time, energy, and money you’d have to spend to do so. Your best form of protection is getting to the marketplace first. And that’s where Quirky really excels.
Jared Joyce, a professional inventor who has been submitting his ideas to Quirky for years, says that the company took his idea for a product that neatly organizes unsightly power cords, the Plug Hub, from sketch to store in eight months. Quirky took Cordies, a desktop cord manager, from sketch to store in a mere four weeks. That’s fast.
On the other hand, it’s worth noting that when you choose to publicize an unprotected idea, it’s possible someone else may steal it. I don’t think this scenario is common or at all likely, but it is something to be aware of.
2. You have a great idea, but you don’t have any time to dedicate to bringing it to market.
When you submit an idea to Quirky, you release it into the hands of talented influencers who are passionate about product development. Your work is done. Maybe it’s time to get that idea you can’t stop thinking about off your chest. Who knows what might happen?
But make sure not to get too attached to it. Some ideas submitted to Quirky go through what Joyce describes as the “design blender.” By the time your idea comes out the other side, it might not look much like what you envisioned.
3. You want to get better at generating and communicating ideas.
When Joyce first discovered Quirky, he challenged himself to submit one idea a week for an entire year.
“Design is a black hole. No one is ever done,” he says. “I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so when it came to submitting some ideas, I felt embarrassed -- they weren’t up to my standards.”
But at the end of those 12 months, no inventor had won product of the week more times than him. Even more important, he says, he had a portfolio of work that demonstrated his consistency and creativity.
Study the ideas that succeed on Quirky. What do they have in common? Why are they compelling? What makes them stand out from thousands of other submissions? Quirky is pretty transparent about its process, which I think is wonderful. There’s a lot to learn.
If you decide to submit an idea to Quirky, make sure your product gets noticed. Joyce says entrepreneurs should start by focusing on creating titles, taglines and thumbnail images that are compelling and explicit.
“Quirky receives about 4,000 submissions a week,” he explains. “You need to communicate the essence of your idea in three seconds or less.”
When someone does click for further information, make sure to reward him. Whether it’s a sell sheet, a digital rendering or a sketch, give them more meat to digest, Joyce says. And finally, try to make your pitch timely. Why is this product needed now? How does it relate to what’s going on in the market?
Do you have a Quirky idea?