OM in the News: One Week, 3,000 New Products
Separating winners from flops is the challenge facing Quirky, the 5-year-old New York-based invention-facilitating company. Quirky culls entrepreneurs’ ideas, taking those that seem most promising from development to manufacturing to distribution. In an effort to speed products to market in 120 days or less, it draws on an online community of nearly 900,000 Quirky “community members” for input. Roughly 3,000 ideas for new products arrive in its online inbox each week, reports The Wall Street Journal (July 3, 2014).
And each week Quirky’s staff whittles down this stream of new ideas into a dozen or so top picks that are scrutinized and voted on during a raucous event known as “Eval,” open to employees and the online community. Typically, 3-5 ideas get the green light to move into development. At that point, engineers and designers, working out a vast red brick warehouse in New York, turn sketches into marketable products, tapping the online community for suggestions about design, product names and price points.
Of the more than 206,000 ideas submitted since 2009, just 500, or 0.2%, have made it into development, and 132 to market. Inventors receive 4% of revenue, with an additional 6% split among members of the broader community who suggest product features, vote on tag lines or contribute expertise in areas such as electric engineering, material science and product safety. The product managers weed out the ideas they think could face heavy competition, or major technical challenges as well as those with no ready retail partner, before forwarding their top 10 picks, which are winnowed further for Eval.
Classroom discussion questions:
1. What is Quirky’s product development strategy? (See pages 157-8 in Chapter 5)
2. Does Quirky follow the product development stages in Figure 5.1 on page 161?