Although their products over the years have been hit or miss, the democratic design approach towards product development that Quirky has pioneered since being founded by Ben Kaufman in 2009 has always been front and center for the company; now, it’s looking like that’s all that they’re going to do with a new focus as a B2B platform.
After years of launching dozens of products ranging from cable management systems to a ‘smart’ air conditioner, the company is hanging up their sketchbooks, calipers, markers and aprons in favor of implementing the code and community side of their democratic design platform into the product development process for larger corporations who are looking for a fresh take on innovation that’s driven by the very consumers of the products themselves.
Among other reasons for the restructuring, the company – despite having a world-class team and product development facility – has been losing tens of millions of dollars over the past year alone and had to lay off a sizable chunk of their team just a few months ago.
Despite this, the company has managed to hold onto what is perhaps their most valuable asset: their community.
“One of the major takeaways was the importance of giving community members more control when bringing ideas to life,” adds Kaufman. “After a bit of time in beta and a positive response from the community, we’re excited to introduce significant improvements in how we operate.”
Although there are many changes in the new direction as outlined by Kaufman, it is the last reason in his list that will prove to be the most critical:
“Our prior site was trying to be a commerce platform, an invention submission site, a collaboration site, etc. By eliminating commerce we’ve focused our platform on the one thing we (and our community) do best: collaborative invention online.”
While it’s not entirely clear which direction this new corporate-focused approach will take in the long run, it’s difficult to argue that despite some missed product opportunities of their own, when it comes to organizing the madness of crowdsourced design, Quirky still remains at the helm.