The best inventions we found at CES 2018

This year, CES, the country’s biggest consumer electronics show in the world, featured nearly 3,900 exhibitors covering more than 2.75 million square feet, making it the biggest floor in the show’s history. Team Quirky represented products invented by real people like you at the show across two booths. Among the Quirky inventions which were featured:

– Air
– Spacebar
– Chirp
– Helix
– Trek
– Ventu
– Silo

Watch the video of Quirky President Gina Waldhorn touring one of our booths.

That’s not all, at CES, we walked the floor at Eureka Park on a mission to find the coolest new inventions. Below are a few of the products we discovered.

  • Jooki: Celebrate the joy of music with your kids without the screen. Hear Theo’s story here
  • Shapescale: This smart scale will change how you view your fitness progress. Hear Charlie’s story here
  • Siren: Meet the sock that can change it all for diabetes patients. Hear Maryam’s story here
  • Oblend: The first essential oil dispensary is here. Hear Jim’s and Matt’s story here
  • WiSurf: Customize your wireless charging station with Wi Surf. Hear Lucas’s story here
  • Hypnos: Find a new way to start thinking and feeling better with Hypnos. Hear Kevin’s story here
  • My Special Aflac Duck™: This cute robot helps kids cope with cancer. Hear Hannah’s story here

There were many more incredible inventions, head on over to our Instagram to see a few more of our highlighted inventions from CES!

Asking for Faster Horses: Why Big Brands Are Struggling

This week the WSJ published an article detailing Unilever’s struggle to maintain market share as independent and local startups continue to usurp the once all-powerful market leaders. The Journal details how they’ve tried everything from corporate restructuring, to hiring “game changers”, and full on copycat tactics, all to little avail.

Outside of what the article mentions, Unilever has also been one of the most publicly aggressive companies to partner with early-stage startups as part of their Foundry initiative.

All of these efforts are to be applauded and given A’s for effort (I’m not a shareholder, so I can be generous), but something is clearly missing for Unilever, and for many other Fortune 500 companies whose CEO’s are waking up in a cold sweat wondering when their Dollar Shave Club is going to launch. I have one hypothesis for what’s wrong:

Their efforts are reactive.

What’s stopping Unilever and other global brands from creating the next Halo Top given all of the resources in their arsenal (money, research, technology, patents) is their need to have a meticulously defined goal. To know where they want to end up. Big brands innovate in response to solve a brief, to hit a financial goal, to address a new target market everyone is making money on but them. Their responsibility to shareholders forces them to be managerial thinkers instead of entrepreneurial thinkers, which would see them create opportunity from the means at their disposal versus always working to hit a goal already established.

That’s where open innovation can provide the advantage. Let an open innovation program do the entrepreneurial thinking for you. How?

First, stop structuring your innovation programs solely around briefs. It’s the Henry Ford “they would have said faster horses” conundrum. To employ an entrepreneurial mindset, give your crowd the means, and let them create the opportunity. Share research, patents, and past experience with them. Inspire them and invite them into your world with dedicated challenges, but don’t sell yourself short by ONLY ever asking them to solve a specific challenge. Let the ideas flow like the salmon of Capistrano.

Second, listen to what they’re already telling you. How are you capturing the voice of your customer (VoC), voice of your employee (VoE), or a combination (the voice of your customer through your employees- VoCE). They’re out there asking for products that don’t exist yet all the time – through their complaints, through their suggestions, when they search on Amazon or Google, when they post on Kickstarter or submit on Quirky. A thoughtful data science practice can collect, organize, and analyze this data to uncover invaluable product, feature ideas, or whitespace that can be a game changer if you only open yourself up to the possibility.

The beauty of open innovation is that you’re not the ones doing the innovating! You no longer need to “come up with an innovation that solves X” or “respond to the VR trend with innovation Y.” Accept that you have no idea where you might end up and you won’t find yourself stuck selling just a faster horse.

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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 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 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.

What NOT Making the “Most Inventive” List Should Be Telling You


Every year, some of the top magazines release their top inventions lists, touting some of the coolest and most innovative inventions to be released. The most recent list to be published was Time. The list was rather comprehensive, with inventions coming from all sorts of verticals including Sports & Fitness, CPG, Apparel, Beauty, Auto, Electronics, and even Space Travel. National Geographic, Popular Science, CBS News and Money Inc. Magazines have similar lists.

Have you been featured on one of these lists? If your company was lucky enough to be featured – congratulations! If not, we should probably sit down and have “the talk.”

You’ve probably heard this statistic, or one similar:  Only 12% of Fortune 500 firms from 1955 remained by 2016. Almost 9 of every 10 Fortune 500 brands from that era are gone, merged, or declined to the point they were no longer considered part of the elite. Looking ahead six decades, it’s safe to assume that few of today’s Fortune 500 will remain as currently constructed.

This constant turnover attests to the importance of true product innovation (versus commercial, service, or business model innovation). You don’t have to be a member of the Fortune 500, 1000, or even 10,000 (is that a real list? If not, someone should make it) to take this lesson to heart: Invent or die. Okay, you probably won’t die… but the consequences for your business won’t be pretty.

Is your newest competitor on this list? Did Amazon and Google have Jibo on their radar? Was L’Oréal prepared for the splash made by Fenty Beauty? In today’s dynamic market, your next competitor is an invention away. And thanks to the many platforms democratizing creation, “away” isn’t years or millions in R&D, it’s someone like you or me with a great idea and a smartphone.

Assuming there were no mistakes, let’s consider why you didn’t make this year’s list. You’re smart and creative. Your company highly prioritizes and funds innovation. What’s missing? Some of the more common hurdles to successfully bringing inventions to market include:

  • Solving the right problems: What sorts of products do people wish existed? Most companies don’t have a visionary like Steve Jobs or Henry Ford at the helm, capable of inventing products people didn’t even know they needed. Are you positioned to find the white space?
  • Filling the funnel: Successful innovation relies on understanding basic math. The more quality concepts you begin with, the higher your success rate will be as you move through the evaluation and development process.
  • Product Validation: You’ve got a robust pipeline of concepts, but how do you prioritize and validate which ones to move forward with? Are you suffering from too-many-good-idea-paralysis?

Brands should be inspired by the products and companies on this list and motivated by the fact it’s not them. What else is standing in the way?