As inventions go, Jake Zien’s was a clever fix rather than an imaginative breakthrough: Irritation was the mother of his invention.
He found the standard power strip maddening because electric plugs would often block the adjacent sockets. So after his senior year in high school, while attending a summer program at the Rhode Island School of Design, he devised an adjustable power strip that solved that problem. But his product concept — a brief description, drawings and a crude mock-up — went nowhere until he was a senior in college. At that point, he sent digital versions of his sketches to a start-up called Quirky.
Quirky’s designers and engineers refined the concept. “They made it a much more elegant solution,” he said. Quirky also handled the manufacturing and marketing, secured a patent and listed Mr. Zien as the lead inventor. A year later, in 2011, the snakelike adjustable strip, Pivot Power, was on its way to store shelves.
Mr. Zien, 25, now gets a few cents on the dollar for every Pivot Power sold. A software designer in New York, Mr. Zien has collected more than $700,000, and counting.
This flexible power strip is the biggest hit so far for Quirky, founded in 2009. The company, based in Manhattan, is a curious creation of the Internet era, a hybrid of the digital and physical worlds. It is a social network, an online retailer and an industrial designer, manufacturer and marketer.
Ben Kaufman, the company’s 28-year-old founder and chief executive, calls it “a modern invention machine,” whose mission is to commercialize product ideas.
Quirky is Exhibit A for the case that a digital-age renaissance of the small inventor is not only possible but underway. The company taps an online community of one million registered users. More than 400 Quirky-generated products have made it to the marketplace so far.
The company is also a laboratory for testing how far the crowd-based model of innovation and product development can go. Quirky’s ultimate goal, Mr. Kaufman insists, is to create an engine that accelerates the process of identifying and developing new ideas for all kinds of products. “I’d like Quirky to be a utility like electricity,” he said.
Investors are betting that Quirky can build a sizable business. The company has raised $185 million to date. General Electric, the nation’s largest manufacturer, has put in $30 million, as part of a partnership to experiment with faster-paced models of manufacturing. The rest of the money has come mainly from venture capital firms, including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Andreessen Horowitz.
Read more: The Invention Mob, Brought to You by Quirky
The Latest on: Quirky
via Google News
The Latest on: Quirky
- 'The Office' turns 15: All the ways NBC's quirky sitcom changed pop cultureon March 24, 2020 at 6:29 am
From stars like Steve Carell and John Krasinski to all the memes, here's how "The Office" has changed pop culture in the 15 years since it premiered.
- Coronavirus Pandemic: Sunil Grover shares a quirky yet informative post on the deadly outbreak, and it is the need of the houron March 23, 2020 at 9:01 am
Sunil Grover wrote a quirky one-liner, which means the virus will not enter anyone's home if they do not step out and carry it in with them ...
- From AAA to Indie: Kitfox Games Is Carving Its Own Quirky Path to Successon March 19, 2020 at 9:49 am
We live in an unprecedented time for independent games. Where once you needed large teams funded by overseeing publishers, now some of the most talented members of the industry are striking out on ...
- In the bag: Little Rock purse museum a quirky destinationon March 19, 2020 at 7:48 am
Little Rock — Arkansas’ capital city — offers its visitors much to see and do, but there is one hidden gem: the ESSE Purse Museum & Store. ESSE is one of three purse museums in the world and the only ...
- A ‘Massive’ Short Squeeze Is Hitting India on Quirky Bailouton March 18, 2020 at 9:38 pm
Shares of Yes Bank Ltd. have more than tripled from a low this month as the terms of India’s largest-ever bank rescue have left short-sellers scrambling to cover positions. The bailout plan, which ...
- For $539K, a quirky Ditmas Park condo with plenty of roomon March 18, 2020 at 7:00 am
Welcome back to The Six-Digit Club, in which we take a look at a newish-to-market listing priced under $1 million, because nice things sometimes come in small packages. Send nominations to the tipline ...
- That quirky e-reader you could draw on is backon March 17, 2020 at 5:19 pm
The second version of reMarkable, the e-paper table you can doodle on, is now available for pre-order. A Norwegian startup of the same name launched the original version back in 2017 to provide people ...
- The Quirky Oil Investments Making Koreans Cryon March 15, 2020 at 9:00 pm
But Song is among the retail traders who have been hit by last week’s crash in oil prices after investing in the country’s booming market for quirky, derivative-linked products. ETFs such as the one ...
- Philadelphia’s quirky Academy Ball must continue. Now let’s talk about how it needs to change. | Analysison March 13, 2020 at 2:08 am
Your answer probably depends on your age and wealth. It’s also likely dictated by what you know about the ball and why it exists. The Academy Ball is going on hiatus John Lithgow charms at the Academy ...
- 10 quirky homes for sale in Baltimore that caught our attentionon March 12, 2020 at 8:44 am
There’s no shortage of architectural wonders in Baltimore, which makes it an especially fun city to explore. And for those of us who love “window shopping,” browsing through some of the city’s ...
via Bing News