Quirky's Best Inventions And A Look Inside Their Workshop (PHOTOS)

Huffington Post Sep 12, 2011 Back to press

Quirky.com is one of the best-case uses of the Internet out there today; it is, in my opinion, exactly the way that the Internet, with all of its crowdsourcing, connected, hive-mind and hive-money capabilities, should be used.

Quirky.com is an online community where amateur inventors can submit their ideas and designs for new products -- anything they can dream up -- and then get feedback from their fellow users. Twice a week, every Tuesday and Thursday, one of these ideas is chosen by the community as the best idea on the site, and that idea is put into prototype design and production by the Quirky staff in New York City. When enough pledges to actually buy the product have been made (think Kickstarter), the idea is put into full-scale production and manufacture; finished products are then made available for sale, both on the Quirky website and at big box retailers around the country. It is a simple, smart process that enables otherwise cash and resource-poor inventors to see their ideas turn into reality.

It can also enable these inventors to see a lot of money. The idea for Quirky.com has already made its creator Ben Kaufman -- a former struggling inventor himself -- a pretty nice living. I visited him at Quirky's headquarters, a spacious loft in New York's trendy NoHo neighborhood, where Kaufman and I drank designer sparkling water and discussed many things: Kaufman's favorite Quirky invention (a circular power strip called the Pivot Power); an upcoming promotional tie-in with the release of the movie "Moneyball" (they'll be designing and reinventing an everyday product in 24 hours during the film's opening weekend, perhaps with help from star Jonah Hill); and a Sundance Channel TV series about the website that follows the ideation and launch of one new Quirky product per week (airing Fridays at 10 p.m.).

Kaufman used to run an Apple design company before he realized how difficult it was to create products from start-to-finish by himself; that's why he created Quirky, as a network for inventors to share resources, both mental and fiscal. Though he no longer invents (employees "can't play the game," he said, for fairness reasons), he doesn't mind. "I get so much more fulfilled when helping people with their ideas than helping myself with my own ideas," he said.

And though this means his name and his brand are attached to products he doesn't necessarily like (he wouldn't divulge which ones), he said that he doesn't care.

"The beauty of Quirky is it doesn't matter what I like," he laughed.

Below, check out some of the products that we like: our favorite, most inspired inventions to have come out of Quirky. We've also included some photos of the Quirky offices, workshops and inventing process, along with quotes and inside information from CEO Kaufman. Enjoy:

Backpack With Device Charger
The 'Trek Support' can charge your laptop and other devices while you're on the go, thanks to an internal battery with USB dock that can power up to three devices at a time. The bag has a laptop sleeve for travelers and was invented by William Fine, who also came up with an iPad stand for your car.
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