Editor's note: Ben Kaufman is the CEO of Quirky.com, which helps inventors bring their ideas to the market. Kaufman is the subject of Sunday's episode of "The Next List," on CNN at 2 p.m. ET.
Ben Kaufman: Innovation happens outside the boardroom these days
By Ben Kaufman, Special to CNN
(CNN) -- Ninety-nine percent of consumer product companies are incredibly disconnected from the people that they serve. The process of trying to learn about what those people want only creates more distance.
We used to live in a world in which Big Companies made things, and people bought them, sometimes because they were the right things, sometimes because they were the only things. Before the Internet came along, this kind of worked. Before the Web, people’s expectations of how, where and to whom they could express themselves were very low.
Those days are over. People have a forum for their voices and opinions in almost every aspect of their lives; they expect to be heard -- now -- and on their own terms. When the government, Hollywood or manufacturers give them something they can’t use, they respond. And that’s why, rather than waiting for something to respond to, people are trying to be the catalyst. They think they can do better. I think they are right.
I believe that the world is tired of being told, “What’s New” instead of being asked, “What’s Next?”
Ask people who want to express themselves and who are equipped to do so to solve a problem, and they will. That’s the beauty of the age we are living in, and that’s what makes an idea like Quirky, a website I founded to help entrepreneurs, work.
At Quirky, products are not born out of the boardroom. They are born in the bedroom. They come from everyday people who experience common problems and want to find a way to improve them. Every single product that comes out of the Quirky platform was designed and developed by thousands of people form around the world who have had input in every aspect of the product's design from the original seed of the idea all the way to the price that the market will bear. Yes, we are making invention accessible, but we are doing a lot more than that. We are providing a voice for creative people to share their opinions and ideas and work together to make products that the world wants and needs.
The Quirky community and our team of in-house experts are creating beautifully designed products that inspire a visceral reaction for -- and by people -- who are emotionally connected.