05:22 - Source: CNN
Becoming an inventor

Americans are known for being a nation of tinkerers –  inventors with imagination, creativity and pluck. But despite that legacy, and the largest consumer market in the world, it’s nearly impossible for an average inventor to see their idea actually make it to store shelves.

Ben Kaufman is determined to change that. He is the 25-year-old founder and CEO of Quirky.com, an innovative startup that is turning ideas into real-life products.

04:38 - Source: CNN
Learning from a master

Kaufman, subject of last Sunday’s “The Next List” on CNN, says his mission is “to make it possible for all people to execute on their great ideas, regardless of their luck, their circumstance or their pedigree. To give everyone a chance.”

The Quirky process leverages the power of thousands of community members and the experience of top-notch designers to take an idea from the “what if” stage all the way to the marketplace. Members not only vote on the products they’d like to see, they double as built-in buyers. And everybody who influences the final product gets a cut.

After only three years of operation, Quirky expects to pull in more than $20 million in sales revenue this year.

Joe Pine, veteran business consultant and author of “Infinite Possibilities,” says consumers are looking for the type of experiences that Quirky offers.

“To be on that site is an experience, to be able to contribute to it is an experience, to feel a part of a production process is an experience. And then you have the opportunity to be able to recognize the creation of something that you envisioned, and that’s just a powerful, powerful incentive.”

Kaufman is shaking up the way consumer products come to stores. More importantly, he is opening up a path to invention for anyone with a great idea.