“Social Ideation” Startup AHHHA Turns Users’ Ideas Into Real Products

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You know those random ideas for new inventions that occasionally pop into your head? The ones you never do anything with? A startup called AHHHA wants to help you turn them into actual products — and about a little more than a year after launching, its announcing the first four “AHHHAs” (i.e., “aha!” moments) that it’s commercializing.

The AHHHA idea itself (that it could build a community of users willing to submit their ideas for others to refine and commercialize, in exchange for a share of the profits) strikes me as pretty out-there, so the fact that it’s led to some real products goes a long way towards expelling my initial skepticism. As for the four initial ideas, they cover a pretty broad gamut, and it sounds like that’s intentional. CEO Matt Crowe tells me they “represent the first four of many market verticals that Social Ideation works in: … 1. Consumer Products 2. Tech/Apps 3. Social Good. 4. Potentially Genius.”

The ideas include the Sleeper Sleeve, a blanket/pillow that you can wrap around your arm to sleep more easily in a car or a plane (I totally want this); a scientific theory called Sutton’s Theory; a Portable Homeless Shelter; and PinPoint, an iPhone app for finding what you’re looking for at the grocery store. You can buy the Sleeper Sleeve in the AHHHA market, and watch videos profiling all four ideas and their creators on the AHHHA website.

AHHHA is announcing these products as part of the launch of version 2.0 of its service. As always, users can submit their ideas, then others can refine them, or just vote them up or down. If the product makes it to market, the profits are divided between the originator, other participants, and AHHHA itself. Crowe says the originator gets 10 percent of the profit (an increase from the 1 percent that he suggested to me a year ago), AHHHA gets between 10 and 25 percent, and the rest is divided up among other participants, based on their contributions. As for the new version, it does a better job of explaining the concept to new visitors, while also making it easier to browse ideas. There’s also a market for buying AHHHA products, and integration with Creative Barcode, a system for documenting the creation and development of ideas.

The first four AHHHAs were selected from more than 5,000 submissions, Crowe says.