Monday, August 29, 2011

{alltv} Got a great product idea? Think 'Quirky'

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ben-kaufman-jake-zien-quirky-sundance.jpgArmchair inventors, rejoice! If you think you've got a great solution to a commonplace problem, get "Quirky" with it.

That's the title of a high-energy six-week documentary series premiering Tuesday, Aug. 30, on Sundance Channel that takes viewers inside the fast-paced world of Quirky, a business founded by visionary and entrepreneur Ben Kaufman. Using a straightforward mission statement -- "to create ingenious solutions to commonplace problems" -- Kaufman's thriving company puts the "active" in "interactive," sifting through submissions from amateur inventors around the world, then selecting the best of them to put into development with input both from Quirky's design team and feedback from visitors to the website.

Each episode of the Sundance series follows two products: one that is early in the process, where Kaufman, his team and the inventor are taking the raw idea and polishing it to the point where a prototype can be made, and a second that is being readied for shipment to major retailers such as Bed, Bath and Beyond.

The premiere episode follows Pennsylvania housewife Andrea Zabinski as she enters the first stages of development for her product, a bowl that can be used to strain, serve and store pasta. The other item is college student Jake Zien's Pivot Power, an innovative power strip with outlets that can be repositioned so that large "power bricks" don't hog space. (The latter, by the way, has since become one of the hottest selling products in the Quirky catalog. Not bad for something Zien dashed off while he was bored in class.)

"We named the business Quirky because the process that we use to develop our products is unconventional," Kaufman tells Zap2it. "It's not what you would expect. Never before have product designers worked with the worldwide community to bring these inventions to life. It's important to note, though, that the products themselves are not 'quirky.' They're great solutions to everyday problems."

Kaufman says the target audience for the TV series is "creative people who have ideas sitting in their heads and want to see them come to life," but he welcomes anyone becoming part of the Quirky experience in any respect.

"There are three ways to get involved with Quirky," he explains. "First, to come up with your own product ideas; second, to help other people bring their product ideas to life, like with submitting product names or helping to pick colors or modify features; and third, just to buy the products. Most of the top retailers in the country carry them."

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