Design And The Market – A “Quirky” Project

If you cast your minds back to….3 posts ago; you will remember that the design and the market module required us to research an entrepeneur; specifically how they set up their individual businesses and what made them…well…individual!

For this task we were split into groups of 6 – all kept within our respective disciplines. I’ve been lucky enough to be put with 5 other great designers; each with their own individual talents – a bit of a melting pot. The deliverable of this project is to give a 20 minute presentation on your chosen entrepeneur; HOPEFULLY, should the electronic sprites that run the internet see fit – we will be able to post a video of said presentation so you can laugh at all of our nervous ticks.

So straight off the bat we retreated to the studio to choose our company to research into. A few design companies were batted around, but one seemed to stick out like a sugar coated beacon of design hope; a little company called Quirky

I don’t want to spoil our later surprise; so I’m not going to go into too much detail. What I can tell you is that Quirky is a “Quirky” little (well actually rather big) design firm headed up by this guy; Ben Kaufman

 Ben is a young entrepeneur – who owned his own successful business at a younger age than I am now. This business was called Mophie – most well known for its range of iPod accessories. However during the MacWorld2007 conference; Ben discovered an amazing tool & niche for his next business venture (Quirky) – Crowd sourcing.

For those of you who dont know what crowdsourcing is – I will save Google the work and explain it myself. Crowdsourcing is the process of giving tasks usually assigned to an individual – to a whole group or community – A mass collaboration. Ben himself described it as “Sharing in creating, sharing in success and sharing in failure”. Which is where the Quirky business model comes into its own.

Users submit design idea’s to what is essentially a large online community or forum. The users then collaborate on the design in return for influence. The more influence you have – the more money you earn if the product goes to market.

This model really does mean that everyone wins. As Ben himself said it is a share in success, and a share in failure. If a product is a huge success – all contributors get a fair share in that success, but if it is not, then the company is not left in a deposit by paying employees when a product has flopped. Genius.

But it has not all been reading up and prodding old web archives; we were recommended to also contact the people themselves. This resulted in us reaching out on all channels to get a chat with Ben so he could answer some more personal questions that we could not find the answers to online or elsewhere. Unfortunately Ben is a busy man and although we talked to a few Quirky employees; getting a hold of the man himself was very difficult.

As deadlines were looming I decided to take a chance and tweet Ben himself; and you’ll never guess what happened.
I got a reply! I think this is the first time I’ve actually been starstruck!
Ben apologised that he couldnt make his conference at SocialMedia week – but did say he would be at his offices the next day for a meeting (Does that mean we were invited?). Unfortunately student pay didnt mean we could board a flight that night, but I did ask if they would be streaming the event….

Meanwhile; Back in the studio’s we continued with our presentation. “How many designers does it take to make a Powerpoint?” I hear you ask – Well…Uh….6?

Fast forward to the next day and we receive an email telling us the Quirky meeting was about to start; and that it was indeed being streamed live. Brilliant. I sat up with my notebook and pen until 10pm EST which is around 3am here. But it was entirely worth it – watching Ben and his team talk gave much further insight into the dynamics of the company. But it didn’t stop there, there was also an open chat…which gave me some opportunity to fire a few questions Ben’s way. And it got interesting

(Pump your sound WAY up for this one)

If I was starstruck having Ben re-tweeted – I was certainly starstruck having my questions answered live.
Long story short? Quirky will have my CV on their desk come graduation day.


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