GE Appliances (now a subsidiary of the Chinese appliance manufacturer Haier) is spinning out a crowd-sourced product development business as a service for corporate customers under the name Giddy.
It’s the idea that won’t die — even though several of the companies that originally supported it have foundered over the years. Companies like Quirky and Local Motors tried to tap the maker community to create product development shops that would leverage amateur engineering and design talent and at-home prototyping to create new products to sell to the mass market.
Those companies raised more than $100 million dollars in combined financing to pursue their vision, but Quirky went out of business and Local Motors has seen its vision for letting 1,000 car designing engineers flourish stall out.
Now GE Appliances, which once celebrated its Quirky connection, is taking the same model and pitching it to other corporations.
From its headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky, GE Appliances had incorporated the Quirky model as a subsidiary called FirstBuild, which the company was using to test new products. Some of those products, like a new ice maker and machine for cold-brewing coffee, have had success and actually made it to market.
“Companies are continuing to evolve the way they approach innovation, and are more willing to go outside their four walls to generate good ideas,” said Giddy chief executive Taylor Dawson, in a statement. “We’re giving businesses access to fresh thinking, while providing opportunities for people to do what they love and gain experience.”
Since its launch, FirstBuild has expanded from Louisville to offices in Shanghai and a planned location somewhere in India set to be unveiled in 2018.
Giddy takes the Quirky and FirstBuild model and sells it to companies as a mobile platform through which companies can post challenges to employees and outside designers.
The company said it will launch its first challenge at CES, with more to follow.
Businesses pay a fee to use Giddy, but amateur inventors, hobbyists and makers can join for free. They will be able to peruse challenges and find some that interest them.
“Yes, the technology is great, but the value is in Giddy’s creative community from artists to engineers and makers,” said Dawson in a statement. “We saw the power of community and open innovation at FirstBuild. If it worked that well for GE appliances, we’re confident other companies can benefit from a similar approach.”