Jim Cramer has always understood the importance of highlighting the next big market themes that could drive innovation. That is why “Mad Money” has been on a mission to help investors find the major forces behind the market, by profiling private companies that could be the future of business in its “Off The Tape” segment.
Recently, CNBC launched its third annual Disruptor 50 list, which highlights the most revolutionary startups in business. Making its third appearance on the list and moving up from number 18 to 15 is Quirky.
Quirky gained its start as a platform for people to submit ideas. The company would then take the best inventions from the idea stage to store shelves around the world.
Originally Quirky covered all different types of innovation, but within the last year, it has reduced its scope to specializing in developing electronics and products for the connected home. It has also partnered with companies such as General Electric, Harman and Mattel to allow for product inventions to get to the market.
What makes Quirky unique is the community foundation that is associated with its business model. The company works based on in-house designers and engineers whocollaborate with a community for development. The community member submits an idea, and then the community votes to decide which products will be advanced.
Quirky’s design team then works with the idea submitter to evolve the invention. Ultimately when a product is sold, Quirky shares its revenue with every community member that had an impact. It currently has over one million community members and receives thousands of ideas per week.
Products can be found at Amazon.com, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, Best Buy, The Home Depot and Quirky.com. It will also launch its own line later this year, an array of smart appliances under the Poppy brand that include coffee makers, pet feeders and baby formula machines that have sensors that will detect when they need to be refilled.
Could Quirky be the future of the internet of things? To find out, Cramer sat down with the founder and CEO of Quirky, Ben Kaufman.
The CEO explained that his company started out as a small startup in his apartment in New York City and has grown over time to include larger partners. Before Quirky existed, people spent their life savings trying to create an invention. That is how Kaufman started when his parents put a second mortgage on their house to support his idea.
“The best ideas in the world aren’t actually in the world, they’re locked in people’s heads and we want to unlock them,” Kaufman said.
Quirky now receives over 4,000 ideas a week and on Thursday nights, they have a panel that selects only three or four.
“We take these inventions seriously, and we want to protect our inventors. Most Americans think that when you have an idea, you need a patent, and that’s not always true,” the CEO added.
Kaufman stated that the key is to have a great product and get it to market quickly. He added that every time Quirky works with a large corporation, they are looking for two things. First, is speed because it is hard to build a new product at a large company. Second, is fresh ideas, and Quirky has boat loads of them.
“I am not exactly a traditional corporate American,” he said.
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