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What Quirky.com can teach you about starting a side business

Inventing tools

 

How many times have you seen a product on TV and thought: I had that idea?

Quirky was invented in 2009 with the aim of manufacturing products invented by ordinary people.  Its founder’s goal is to help those people who have a good idea, but don’t have the resources or contacts to get the product made.

Quirky invites inventors to submit ideas for products, but not every idea is selected. Instead, it has to be voted upon by the Quirky community of users (693,000). If the idea is  selected, Quirky will do the design, production and even retail development.

The community of users doesn’t just stop there. They can also vote on name, colour or tagline. Inventors become part owners of the project and receive royalties, as do those responsible for development of the product.

How you can apply this to your side business

Your side business must solve a problem for your  particular group of people, or target market.

If you browse the products on Quirky, you’ll see that each is designed to solve a particular problem.

Each product on the site has a description of what it does or the problem it has been invented to solve. See Pluck, Egg Separator.

First description: Egg separator

Description of the problem: Extracting the yolk from healthy egg whites can feel as tricky as pulling a rabbit from a hat.

How Pluck solves the problem: Pluck makes it easy by separating the two with a simple squeeze and release of its silicone chamber.

Ultimate benefit of Pluck: Now everyone from bodybuilders to soccer moms can just pluck that caloric yellow stuff right out.

The market:  Pluck assumes that its key buyers would be anyone who’s into fitness, and a non yolky egg. A secondary market could be anyone who bakes!

Here’s what Quirky does well

1) First, it solves a problem by making it easier for inventors to get their products to market.

2) Just because you have an good idea does not mean people would actually want to pay for it. By having each idea voted upon, Quirky can ensure that the products will actually be what people need and want. You could call the Quirky community its own built in focus group, who are providing their opinions for free!

At its core, a successful business idea solves a problem.

Think of the following examples of successful businesses and what problems they solve:

Etsy: Provides an easy way for home based crafters to sell their products

Mashable.com: became a news source for those interested social media techniques

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