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Inventing is hard. Community matters.  

One of the most rewarding things about being an inventor is the community you join. By taking that leap of faith in manifesting an idea you immediately become part of a global family of like-minded creatives, who are all moving through the ups and downs of bringing a concept to market. And like most families, this one is full of characters. Makers, founders, inventors and entrepreneurs are often a special breed of people, filled with passion, perseverance, and emotion. While this family is full of people from different backgrounds headed in different directions, the overwhelming bunch of them have one thing in common: they’re willingness to help each other.

I’m constantly inspired and uplifted by our Quirky community members who don’t only support each other on the platform, providing renders, features, and other valuable contributions to Quirky submissions (which they do for a share of royalties), but off the platform as well (where they do it for FREE). They recommend freelancers, suggest educational resources, and share invaluable lessons learned to help new inventors avoid making similar mistakes they’ve made. It is truly a beautiful thing to witness.

If you’re a new inventor, welcome to the family! If you’ve been inventing for a while, welcome back. Here are some ways to get connected with invention communities:

  • Join the Quirky Community Forum! Our Quirky forum can be found at community.quirky.com. Note, you’ll need to create a separate username than what you use on Quirky.com
  • Join the Reddit conversation. Check out the invention subreddits such as r/LightBulb and r/Inventions
  • Join fellow inventors IRL (in real life)! Most major cities (and a lot of smaller ones) have Inventor Groups or Clubs. Check out a list of groups here on the United Inventor Association’s website, and make sure to join the UIA while you’re there – it’s totally free and chock-full of great resources. The Inventors Groups of America also has a great list here!

IGA

 

 

 

 

We know it can be intimidating at first, but once you get started, you’ll be hooked. Here are a few simple tips from our seasoned community members:

  • Don’t be shy, say hi and introduce yourself. A simple “Hi, I’m new here, just checking things out!” goes a long way, and you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised at how many welcome messages you receive.
  • Don’t feel pressured to contribute. As in the wild, there is a natural balance to every community. The 80/20 rule will probably prevail, and 20% of the members will make up 80% of the content, so don’t feel like you need to “pull your weight.” Speak up if/when you’re ready.
  • Be honest. Inventor communities that are moderated well should be safe spaces for honest communication and idea feedback. Be ready for people to shred your idea, and in fact, be open and excited for it! Hearing why people believe your idea WON’T work can be some of the most valuable input into your product journey you’ll ever receive. Just make sure when giving or receiving feedback you remember to be respectful.

Inventing is more fun when you do it together. Let the welcoming arms of an inventor community be another nudge that helps you take the leap into pursuing your idea. We’re waiting for you!

Inspiring our Next Generation of Innovators, Kid Inventors

Did you know that the trampoline, popsicle, and ear muffs were invented by kids? So were the first fully electronic TV, Braille writing system for the blind and the snowmobile.

We love the creativity kids bring to inventing. Remember 7-year-old Houston Diaz? He invented the Quirky Squeezie, which screws directly onto toothpaste and with a simple squeeze delivers the toothpaste onto the brush head.

The Quirky + Hover-1 Cruze Skateboard, the first remote-less, electronic, cruise-controlled rideable, was invented by 14-year-old Michael Wahba just last year. It’s currently selling at Best Buy.

We should encourage kids to explore their creativity and try to invent their ideas. Practicing these skills early on in life will help children learn how to solve problems, dream big and follow through on their ideas. Don’t rely on the classroom. Take your child to the science museum in your local area or try a fun invention project from Pinterest.

There are other incredible opportunities for kids to get more involved in inventing. One of these was founded and hosted by one of our Quirksters, Mary Couzin. Every year, kids from around the world invent amazing new game concepts and submit them to the Chicago Toy & Game Week (CHITAG) Young Inventor Challenge. The Challenge provides an opportunity for kids ages 6 to 18 to showcase their own original toy & game inventions to industry professionals, members of media and the public. All entrants receive feedback from a top industry professional and compete for licensing deals and up to $10,000 in scholarships. Quirky will be one of the judges at the competition and we’re excited to see what the kids come up with!

11-year-olds Olivia Wasilewski and Brynna Siewers won the challenge in 2016 with their game Ship of Treasures, a pirate treasure hunt game that hit Target shelves in 2017. You can’t help but smile and be inspired by these other kids and their ideas.

The CHITAG Young Inventor Challenge is entering its 12th year and they’re looking for more kids to participate. There are five categories kid inventors can enter: Most Creative Concept, Best Ride-On or Wheeled Concept, Best Game Concept, Best Playful Learning Concept, and Best Presentation.

Go to www.chitag.com/yic to read the rules and register before October 31st. For those looking to attend, the event will be held at the Navy Pier, Chicago, IL on Saturday, November 17th, 2018 from 9am – 2pm.

Should You Fake It Until You Make It?

It’s a saying entrepreneurs and inventors hear all the time. It means to present yourself and your business or idea as if it’s legitimate, and maybe even showing signs of early success, when in reality you’re not quite there (yet). So should you fake it til you make it?

Image result for fake it till you make it

Fake it ’til you make it

My two cents: No.

But before I dive into my rationale, let’s look at what it means to fake it until you make it.

Most faking it takes place in the pitch deck, where having a sleek and professional design can imply you’re the real deal. Unlike the actual product, the pitch deck is an even playing ground where for a few hundred dollars a freelance designer can make anyone’s idea, no matter how nascent, look on par with that of an AirBnB or Casper (in fact, sometimes you can hire the same freelance designers the bigger companies used).

The other place you’ll find people faking it is in their in-person presentation of themselves and their business. Confidence is infectious. Through an individual’s voice and body language they can make another individual, or even an entire room, believe they’ve achieved something great. A handshake sets the tone, and direct eye contact, smiling, and leaning in through proactive introductions expels an energy that says “I’ve clearly got something to be confident about.”

These two channels, the tangible and the intangible, can be built on a foundation of air, and many a seed round has been funded on not much more. But if you really have nothing more than an idea, is this a viable strategy for growth and long term success? Should you fake it, get the funding you need (in the form of investment, a Purchase Order, or your first client), and then figure it out from there? I would advise against it.

Why? Because you don’t have to. There are too many options for you to create a business case and prove concept for you to completely fake it. At Quirky I see a hundred new product ideas a day, some of which are nothing more than sketches on napkins. Everyone is ready to convince me their idea is a winner, but it’s those that offer a real proof of concept that really stand out. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Size of Prize. Know the maximum target audience for your product or business, and an estimated share you’re going after. It’s as easy as using the FREE Fact Finder from the US Census Bureau to get population numbers. You may have the world’s best stroller for triplets, but with only 1,374 triplet births a year the juice is not worth the squeeze.
Image result for census fact finder

US Census Fact Finder

  1. Competitive Matrix. Make one. Use Owler to profile your competition and Wikinvest to see how they’re performing. Google “competitive matrix” and fill out any one of the 100+ templates that pop up in image search. If you’re alone in the top right quadrant that’s a good thing, if it’s packed up there, time to re-think your positioning.
Google search for competitive matrix

Google search for competitive matrix

  1. Purchase Intent. Use a landing page site like Unbounce and create a real page selling your product or service, and show that it’s currently out of stock (or for a service show there is a waiting list to become a customer). Include an email capture to “alert me when this product goes on sale.” Now go spend $500 or $1,000 on performance based (cost per click) Facebook ads using creative messaging that promotes buying the actual product or service. Scared someone is going to steal your idea? Read my article on that here.

Don’t have a real product yet to take pictures of for your landing page and ads? Head on over to Upwork or Fiverr and hire a designer to make you a couple killer renders of your product in lifestyle images. You don’t need detailed industrial designs or mechanical renders, simply shots of people using your product in real life scenarios (which is much easier AND CHEAPER to design than detailing exactly how something needs to be made for production).

Image result for fiverr screenshot

Fiverr Marketplace

You can do all of this in a week or two, and now you’ve got a story to tell, and you’re not faking the fact there is tangible market interest in the product you’re planning on selling. Armed with this data your confidence should naturally increase and your pitch with strengthen. Sure, it still might be worth it to spring on the extra smooth Moo cards, but at least they’ll be backed up with numbers you can count on.

The Key To Your Brilliant Idea

Written by Gina Waldhorn

We’re all the world’s poorest billionaires, just letting our game-changing ideas rot away in our Notes app because for a multitude of reasons we can’t get past “I’ve got this great idea…”

We’ve got jobs. We’ve got kids. I’ve got a dog who lets himself out of my apartment.

The idea is the easy part (isn’t there a saying about ideas being like a**holes, everyone’s got one?), the execution is the true test. So having worked with hundreds of startup founders and successful inventors I’m going to give you a tip that can truly set you on your path towards buying that Palm Beach vacation home with the waterfall pool you’ve always wanted:

Find yourself a partner.

What’s that? You don’t want to give up 50% of your bajillion dollar idea? Well guess what, 50% of nothing is nothing, and that’s what you’re earning now, so get over yourself and get networking. Here’s why finding a partner is going to change the game for you:

  1. Humans because of necessity evolved into social beings. You’ll enjoy the journey when you’re not doing it along.
  2. You need to be held accountable. We can easily let ourselves down, but when we miss a deadline that sets someone else back we feel pretty terrible, which is strong motivation to progress.
  3. You need an unbiased opinion of your idea. Your mom won’t tell you clothes for hermit crabs isn’t a good idea, your future partner will.
  4. I’m 99.9% sure you don’t know it all. Whether you’re launching a SaaS solution, hardware product, or new smoothie mixture you’re going to need to employ a diverse set of skills across business and financial planning, development, manufacturing, sales, marketing…the list goes on. The right partner will complement your existing skill set by filling your gaps.

And here’s the amazing thing: right now there is someone out there who wants to partner with you! How can you find them? Try these tactics:

  1. Attend local meetups for founders, makers, and inventors. Try to join groups loosely in your area, e.g. the local hardware meetup or local SaaS meetup.
  2. Check out sites and events dedicated to helping you find a co-founder like CoFounders Lab or BuildItWith.Me. You’ll also find some great conversations happening on the CoFounder subreddit.
  3. Tell all your friends and family about your idea. You don’t need to worry about someone stealing your idea (unless your friends with Marc Zuckerberg), that’s another BS excuse we make for ourselves for not pitching. Chances are your future business partner is a friend of a friend thinking of doing something similar right now and you’re only one or two degrees away.

Once you’ve made that magical connection you can decide what type of partnership makes sense. I recommend always dating before you jump into a formal partnership. Spend time simply working next to each other and meeting a few milestones. Maybe you’ll end up the next Sergey and Larry, or maybe they simply provide enough of a reason to show up. Either way you’ve got 5 months left in 2018 to find that special someone and get that idea out of your Notes app and release it into the world. Palm Beach is calling…

Written originally for Linkedin.

What’s Stopping You From Pursuing Your Idea?

By Gina Waldhorn, President of Quirky

I Asked a Room Full of Women: What’s Stopping You From Pursuing Your Idea?

Quirky launched #InventHer, an initiative dedicated to creating a more inclusive invention ecosystem. We started small, hosting a breakfast to have a conversation about the issue (women file only 8% of all patents in the US) as well as our program goals.

But rather than tell people what the initiative was going to do to, we wanted to hear from those on the frontlines of invention, and understand openly and honestly: What’s stopping you from inventing?

So, to a room full of women from across industries including media, marketing, technology, education, hospitality, and even Australian Rules Football, a room full of women with ideas, we asked:

What’s stopping you from pursuing your idea? What’s getting in the way of you taking that concept from out of your iNotes app and actually doing something with it?

Slowly, one woman stood up and shared her answer.

Followed by another, and then another, until the room was an outpouring of confessions. Here is a sample of what we heard:

“I don’t want to do it alone. I’d love a group of women, or a partner, to help me on this journey.”

“I just can’t get started. The first step seems impossible to take.”

“I need sincere feedback. No ass-kissing, is this a good idea or what?”

“It’s intimidating to think of all the skills I need across the spectrum of inventing.”

“Time. Work, kids, dogs, life. How can I find the time to invent?”

“Money. We know the stats, females don’t get funded.”

Do these answers feel familiar? They did to me, which I find both comforting and frustrating; comforting to know I’m not alone feeling like I’m the world’s worst confidence-lacking procrastinator who can’t seem to juggle it all, and frustrating to know that so many women like me are struggling with the same challenges that – let’s be honest – are not that hard to solve! We have a Mars rover people, come on!!

In fact, we solved one that very morning: not going at it alone. When that brave soul stood up and shared that she felt more comfortable creating surrounded by other women there was a collective nod throughout the room. And why wouldn’t there be? Inventing, founding, starting something is REALLY HARD. It’s even harder when it feels like “there’s no one else like me” going at it.

So for the next several months, we’ll be creating a program that solves some of these problems. Not all of them (not yet at least), but a handful that will help us push the needle just that much further to get more people who don’t see themselves as inventors to change that perspective.

  • We’re going to organize resources for funding and patenting.
  • We’re going to schedule group work sessions and skill-building workshops.
  • We’re going to tell you if your idea for hermit crab clothes might be absolute garbage.
  • We’ll even bring you a dog walker or babysitter if it means you’ll give that brilliant idea of yours the shot it deserves.

What stops you from inventing? What’s standing in your way? Tell me how you’d like to see #InventHer help create an invention ecosystem that makes you feel more confident in pursuing your ideas, and message me if you’d like to get involved with #InventHer.

Originally posted on Linkedin.

Quirky’s Invention Process Explained

If you have an idea for a product or enjoy product design and helping others with their invention projects, Quirky is for you! Inventing on the Quirky platform is simple and it’s easy to track your invention from beginning to end. With Quirky’s invention platform, there are (5) five stages, or steps your invention goes through on its way to becoming a store-ready product: (1) Concept, (2) Review, (3) Development, (4) Production and (5) Launched.

Once you have setup your free Quirky.com account, you kick off the (1) Concept phase by starting a submission and give us an overview of your brilliant idea! 

You may choose to keep your submission private or make it public. Private keeps your invention between you and the Quirky team but prevents you from tapping into the community for help. Public shares your invention with the Quirky community, where other members can offer help with features and product design. Most members choose public as they come to Quirky with an idea and need help to push the invention over the finish line. With public inventions, community members are incentivized to contribute in projects in which you’ve shared “influence” (in other words, they have the opportunity to earn royalties for their contribution). When all areas of your invention are complete, you may submit it to the (2) Review phase.

While you’re invention is in the (2) Review phase, we begin our evaluation and capture feedback from the Quirky community on your invention to better understand its viability. In this phase, you are no longer able to edit your idea and the focus shifts to collecting market research on crowdsourcing competitive products understand the landscape.

Next up is (3) Development. If your invention made it to this phase, congratulations! We think your idea really has potential and we dedicate resources to further develop your concept. This is where we create industrial design sketches & renders, test materials, build prototypes and analyze price points to understand if your product has a place in the market. We’ll be sharing updates along the way as your invention is being refined. 

If after all of this, we believe we’ve found a winner, your invention will move into the (4) Production phase. This is where your product is being built at the factory and is on its way to hitting shelves soon!

Last but definitely not least is (5) Launched. It’s time to earn that cash! This is where we showcase your invention’s full journey and link to our Quirky Shop for shoppers everywhere to buy your invention.  And don’t forget – every time it’s sold, you earn! We share our product royalty 50/50 with the community. When you succeed, we do too!

 

 

QUIRKY, HSN, and Randi Zuckerberg to Host Invention Search in NYC

Calling all inventors and entrepreneurs in the greater New York City area. We want to hear your brilliant ideas!

Quirky and leading entertainment and lifestyle retailer, HSN, are hosting an open call to inventors and entrepreneurs to pitch their product ideas “Shark Tank” style at Randi Zuckerberg’s Sue’s Tech Kitchen in New York City on December 9th 2017.

The chance to pitch HSN and Quirky executives will be first come first serve. Check out https://quirky.com/brilliant-product-idea/ for more information on how to participate.

The product search is a component of HSN’s American Dreams initiative – a program designed to tap into the joy and excitement of discovering new entrepreneurs, and then collaborate with strategic partners to find, educate and train inventors as they bring their products to market.

Sue’s Tech Kitchen is a tech-fueled wonderland for the mouth and the mind. Envisioned by bestselling author and serial entrepreneur Randi Zuckerberg, designed by a NASA scientist, and featuring technologies from all corners of the modern imagination, Sue’s Tech Kitchen offers a STEM-inspired adventure for the whole family that empowers kids to engage with tomorrow’s technologies and revolutionizes family dining in the process.

Quirky, Ace Hardware Select Two Inventions for Hurricane Recovery

In August and September, something terrible happened.

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria raged havoc.

Millions of people were affected: their homes and cars destroyed, access to power lost and food scarce.

Billions of dollars in damages piled up across multiple US cities and Caribbean countries.

Many stood by, hoping and praying for the people affected.

Quirky and Ace Hardware partnered and took action.

We polled our community, some of which were affected by the storms, to uncover the biggest problems people faced as they started recovery efforts.

And the Hurricane Recovery Invention Challenge was born.

For one month, our Quirky Community of thinkers, tinkers, makers and inventors went to work, creating thoughtful solutions to various issues – from safety and structural damage indicators and removing flood water quickly and efficiently to portable power solutions and moving debris, we received hundreds of useful ideas.

The decision was tough. A few weeks ago, we released the shortlist of the top 20 invention ideas and today we are announcing the 2 that have made the final cut.

Before we announce the winners, we want to thank every inventor who submitted ideas for the challenge and send a special thanks to all the brave individuals who have volunteered their time on the ground in these communities – helping people rebuild and recover from the devastation these storms have left behind.

The winners of the ACE Hardware Hurricane Recovery Invention Challenge are…(drumroll please)…

The eCharger by Constantine Orfan

This invention is an ingenious portable power bank the size of a keychain that is powered by a 9-volt battery. This is a great alternative to traditional chargers when you are on-the-go or in an area with no access to power.

The SOS Flashlight by Paulette Blankenship

This is no normal flashlight. It not only lights your way but has handy features that let’s someone in need send distress signals to identify their location to emergency personnel and others around who could help.

Congrats Constantine and Paulette! We love these inventions because they were thoughtful solutions to some of the issues flood victims faced immediately following the disasters and we believe there is a gap in the marketplace for items such as these.

Learn more about this awesome ideas and the others which were recently selected to move forward to development, check out our products in development page here. As we continue to test these product concepts, we’ll update these pages with our progress.

WANT IN ON THE ACTION?

Curious about how you can get more involved, and perhaps be chosen for the next products in development announcement? Join one of our LIVE invention challenges.

Login to Quirky.com and click on one of the invention challenges for instructions on how to invent the next big idea.