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A Tour of Quirky’s Headquarters in New York City [Photos]

25 October 2013

Quirky Product Eval Behind The Scenes

In NYC for a week (holidays), I thought it would be a great opportunity to visit Quirky, this interesting company that “makes invention accessible.” I’ve already written about Quirky a number of times, both in English and in French, and I was excited to get visit their office on Thursday night, and to attend the product evaluation session, or “Quirky Eval.” The photos are by @maelroth and me – only mine are bad in quality.

Quirky office plate NYC

Thursday evening was not only a regular product evaluation session, similarly to those that happen at Quirky every week, it was also an official presentation of the WINK product line, co-created by Quirky and GE. This product line intends to create “products that are smarter because of the power of the Internet and the simplicity of mobile apps,” as Quirky.com/GE explains, and now has half-a-dozen of products on market.

Some of the products in the WINK product line: an app-enabled Pivot Power, a money-counting piggy bank or a personal web dashboard - also app-enabled by GE.

Some of the products in the WINK product line: an app-enabled Pivot Power (back), a money-counting piggy bank (middle) or a personal web dashboard (front) – all app-powered by GE.

The "Nimbus" idea came from Ryan Pendleton from Michigan. Quirky features the inventors big time, which is very smart

The “Nimbus” idea came from Ryan Pendleton from Michigan. Quirky features the inventors big time, which is very smart

Inventors are featured above their products. In the middle, Jake Zien, who had the idea for the Pivot Power and who was present in Thursday's Eval panel

Inventors are featured above their products. In the middle, Jake Zien, who had the idea for the Pivot Power and who was present in Thursday’s Eval panel

The app-enabled Pivot Power on the shelf (even though Quirky didn't sell at their office in Chelsea)

The app-enabled Pivot Power on the shelf (even though Quirky didn’t sell at their office in Chelsea)

After getting a couple of explanations about the Wink products and the other Quirky products displayed at the office’s entrance, we walked through a couple of interesting rooms and workshops, seeing 3D-printers in action and shelves full of Quirky product prototypes. This is how the products seen above start to take shape…

The workshop in which Quirky brings ideas to life, at least in the form of prototypes (most of the manufacturing is made in China)

The workshop in which Quirky brings ideas to life, at least in the form of prototypes (most of the manufacturing is made in China)

Behind one of three 3D-printers, a meeting room with a Quirky + Auchan illustration

Behind one of three 3D-printers, a meeting room with a Quirky + Auchan illustration

On the right, a shelve full of different prototypes. You can see, for example, different versions of the Space Bar desk organizer

On the right, a shelve full of different prototypes. You can see, for example, different versions of the Space Bar desk organizer

Just before Quirky Eval started (“at 7PM sharp” because it is being broadcasted live online) we could see the back scenes of the multimedia performance… an impressive tech room in which everything happens (see below). Then, at 7PM, Ben Kaufmann started the show – literally.

The media control room of Quirky (sorry for cutting your head, Nathan)

The media control room of Quirky (sorry for weirdly cutting your head, Nathan). On the right, Connie, who kindly showed us around during our visit

Approaching 7PM, things got a little more focused...

Approaching 7PM, things got a little more focused…

A couple of minutes before the broadcast started, Quirky founder Ben Kaufmann hit the stage

A couple of minutes before the broadcast started, Quirky founder Ben Kaufmann hit the stage

Ben Kaufmann authoritatively leads the discussion around 10 preselected products - "Should we make this?"

Ben Kaufmann authoritatively leads the discussion around 10 preselected products – “Should we make this?”

The room was packed: about 100 people turned up, mostly employees though

The room was packed: about 100 people turned up, mostly employees though

During one hour, Ben Kaufmann presented community ideas (a laundry basket to bath babies, a French coffee press with Grinder, an easy-to-grab bowl, a tray with built-in glass rack…) and lead the discussion around their usefulness, market potential and problem-solving potential. During the discussion, it happens that he googles for alternatives or existing market solutions, and after about 5 minutes of debate, he asks the crowd whether Quirky should make it or not. Hand raised… “Yes, we will make this!” Applause.

The company’s founder has an undeniable talent for public speaking, involving the audience and making things happen. Not only does his company make things happen, allowing wannabe inventors to have their ideas on the shelves of Target or Bed Bath & Beyond, but he’s also a decision-maker, a charismatic, funny and rousing decision-maker. I’m not sure it’s easy to cope with on a daily basis (for employees) but it definitively makes things happen!

I mean, Quirky has raised 90+ million dollars from Andreessen Horowitz, Quirky partnered with GE and with Home Depot, its products are sold at major retailers in the US and in France… it’s quite an impressive track-record for such a young company. I don’t want to be overly positive and enthusiastic about Quirky, but what I saw definitely impressed me. And, if you want to follow next week’s Quirky Eval, it will be in French 😉 Just tune in to http://www.quirky.com/live

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