Crowdfunding has been a tool used to introduce new inventions and prototypes. Tech products specifically have benefitted by presenting a seemingly genius, fail-proof idea and crafting an all-or-nothing message: support the campaign or we won't have a way to give the world this great new product.
A newer model has been developed by Quirky, a company that crowdsources invention ideas by presenting each idea to it’s community of “real people” and casting a “good old fashioned hand vote” to decide whether or not the idea should be developed further.
I found this model and how it relates to the type of crowdfunding I support really interesting. Quirky feels like a polished grownup version of the invention conventions of our youth. There’s something optimistic and uplifting about a group of people devoted to creation and progress. In scrolling through the sites proposal page I can't help but feel the effects of potential. In minutes I've casually viewed proposals from everything to an aromatherapy alarm clock to new mammogram technology.
Currently, Quirky is a community of 250,000 members. You can sign up online and upvote proposals on the site but votes are cast in person every Thursday night at the New York headquarters. The Thursday night vote is livestreamed for anyone wanting to look in. If the idea is approved it will then move into stages of development which Quirky financially supports. Then, if the product makes profit the community members who supported it get 10% of revenue while the inventor receives 40.5%.
Kickstarter and Indiegogo crowdfund for money but they're also used to crowdsource public opinion and market demand. With Quirky crowdsourcing comes first. The communities ideas and opinions come together, brainstorming and sharing even the most fledgling of invention proposals.
Quirky does detract autonomy from the inventor. But without Quirky's vast network, and financial support, many wouldn't be able to move forward on their own. So many creators turn away from using crowdfunding platforms because as much as they might want the funds, they just don't have the crowd. Before starting a campaign it is essential that you have a network of supporters already in place. Quirky provides a new option. For dreamers without the crowd, they bring the crowd to you.
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