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You may have found yourself fumbling about once or twice for a hot cuppa in the office pantry in some of those coffeebreak moments. The sort of incompetence you experience as you face that trivial challenge of effectively dissolving the contents of an instant coffee sachet in a mugful of hot water sans a teaspoon or stirrer. Suddenly, an amazing idea hits you: What if these instant coffee mixes came by like in lollipop sticks? Those that can come with a one-step instruction that says, “Dip into hot water and stir until dissolved!”
Such light bulb moments can now get you somewhere where such probably ingenious ideas can probably get you paid. U.S.-based Genius Crowds (www.geniuscrowds.com) allows online submitters a chance to have their great ideas for products evaluated for possible development by manufacturers. The company’s many online-connected community members who are all enlisted members of the crowdsourcing community do the idea evaluation. The “crowd” is made up mostly of consumers themselves who can hit “love” buttons for ideas they believe have potential. Ideas can be submitted to the site for free for community critiques. Crowd favorites are then subjected to further evaluation by a panel of retailers, manufacturers, and staffers who do the necessary research for marketability.
Invention and ideation have usually been known by the average consumer to be the domain of geeky inventors and tech wizards. Media has also fostered this idea countless times before in the way it has followed technology and consumer products/service innovations throughout the years. The way corporate media handles information slants and professional content in aid of big business marketing also abets this trend.
Social media, however, is beginning to change that. As more and more social media users plug in to its real-time interactive thrills and gain access to unconventional means of mindsharing, some companies are currently tapping into crowdsourcing as a way to fish for amazing ideas. Those that provide a platform for product development and innovation outside of the confines of manufacturer drawing rooms but from out of the minds of its potential consumers.
A new business model
A new business model has been created out of this newly found platform for innovation. Companies like Genius Crowds provide retailers and manufacturers with qualifying ideas. Retailers and manufacturers pay the company royalties for new products and product improvements resulting from such innovations. Successful idea submitters and inventors in turn get a share of the royalties (in Genius Crowds’ case, it’s 25% of the royalties).
Entrepreneurs contemplating start-ups or business owners in the retail industry wishing to develop new businesses can explore the crowdsourcing business model. There are some valuable considerations they need to take though before they source crowds for ideas like the following:
If you have the knack for great invention spotting, discovery, technology, and pitching ideas, a crowdsourcing business may work for you.