Quirky Announces $68 Million in Series C Funding, On Way to Becoming the Amazon.com of New Gadgetry?

(Originally published on Seedwalker)

Back in May of this year, I wrote about Quirky – a company that is pushing the boundaries of open source collaborative invention and product development – as one to watch. Then I put my money where my mouth is and bought several of their crowd-sourced inventions that I now use every day. Well, the company just raised another $68 million in Series C funding led by Andreessen Horowitz and added Internet oracle Mary Meeker and former employee# 13 at Hotmail, Scott Weiss to the board. It is valued at $150 million per the terms of the deal.

This is a major milestone for the 4 year old company and a far cry from humble beginnings in the founder, Ben Kaufman’s East Village walk up in 2009. Today, the company has launched more than 200 products, invented by every day people like you and I who didn’t have the resources or the wherewithal to develop and market their own ideas. Many of these products sell at big retailers like Target, Staples, OfficeMax and Bed, Bath & Beyond. Quirky has paid out over $2 million in royalties to inventors so far and expects $20 million in sales by the end of 2012, up from $7 million in 2011. Eschewing high profile tech meetups and other tech events in New York City where the company is based, Quirky is unique in that it has striven to build an old school business that is better known amongst every day people who are looking for ways to optimise their work in the kitchen, around the house or in the office.

How does it work? To begin with, inventors submit their ideas on Quirky’s website. These ideas are then vetted by Quirky’s 260,000-strong community. Quirky’s employees and the executive team go on to evaluate each idea for design, marketability and viability. If an idea crosses this threshold, its time to market the product via Quirky’s partnerships with top retailers. The clincher? You get paid if you’re the inventor or an “influencer” of a winning idea. Inventors get 12 cents for every dollar their product brings in on Quirky.com, and 4 cents on every dollar the product brings in at retail.

Quirky Founder and CEO, Ben Kaufman shared that Quirky will be using the funds to expand into new verticals and activating new communities like Quirky mums and Quirky Eco that will act as accelerated “mini invention machines” that make invention accessible to all. Using the above vetting process the company makes 2 products a week today, they plan on ratcheting this up to 10 soon. The company also plans on taking control of the shelf. Will this translate into Quirky becoming the Amazon.com of new gadgetry? Or expand into a standalone branded brick and mortar presence? We’ll find out soon enough.

Originally published on Seedwalker

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