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Quirky.com Founder Ben Kaufman Talks Making Invention Accessible His New Show

Date August 30, 2011
Ben Kaufman, Quirky.com Have you ever had an idea for something so smart and clever, so useful, that you can't believe it hasn't been invented yet?

Well, it's Quirky's mission to make those ideas a reality, thanks to inventor-turned-entrepreneur Ben Kaufman.

After launching a successful product while still in high school (his retractable lanyard headphones, Song Sling,...

Ben Kaufman, Quirky.com Have you ever had an idea for something so smart and clever, so useful, that you can't believe it hasn't been invented yet?

Well, it's Quirky's mission to make those ideas a reality, thanks to inventor-turned-entrepreneur Ben Kaufman.

After launching a successful product while still in high school (his retractable lanyard headphones, Song Sling, got made and sold thanks to his parents re-mortgaging their home), Kaufman decided to give other people a place to brainstorm ideas and support inventions: Quirky.com.

Now TV viewers will get to see what happens behind-the-scenes on 'Quirky' (premieres Tues., Aug. 30, 10PM ET on Sundance Channel), a six-episode docu-series following Kaufman and his team as they develop two new ideas each episode, from inception through production and marketing.

I caught up with Kaufman to hear about the smart products we'll see on the show and his favorite Quirky success story.

Your site is so intriguing -- how much of the invention process will we be seeing on the show?
Well, you know, the story behind Quirky is we develop two brand-new consumer products every week. The ideas from those products come from people all around the world who, without the existence of our team and our process, wouldn't have been able to bring their inventions to life. We like to say we make invention accessible -- we make it possible for average people with way above average ideas to execute on their visions.

What products will we see get made?
At Quirky, we do snow sleds to spatulas and everything in between, but on the show itself you'll see everything from fashion items all the way down to hardcore electronics, can openers, barbecue trays, corkscrews, all sorts of different products.

Are you hoping the show will raise the company's profile a bit?
The world's starting to realize what Quirky is, and what the impact of it is. I mean, we're in every Bed Bath & Beyond in the country now with a full section, so a lot of things are starting to come together. But yeah, I think the show's gonna really help. One of the reasons why we agreed to do it is because we want to make invention accessible -- in order to do that, we need people to know we exist. [Laughs] So this will help tell the Quirky story and get more inventors' ideas out of their heads and onto the shelves.

Our products, at the end of the day, aren't all that quirky. They're real, good solutions to everyday problems. But the process is very quirky and unconventional ... it's not what people would expect.

Ben Kaufman and Jake ZienWhat's your favorite success story?
The one I talk about a lot is this fellow name Jake Zien. He's actually the subject of the first episode of the show; he developed the first pivotable power strip. You know in a regular power strip, you can't fit plugs in all the slots, but this one actually pivots. It's called Pivot Power and he's going to make hundreds of thousands of dollars this year. But the reason why I love that story is he's just a college kid. He would not have normally been able to execute on his visions, but because of the existence of Quirky and the support of our community, he was able to see some success.

Follow Maggie on Twitter @TheTVShowGirl

Read more http://www.aoltv.com/2011/08/30/quirky-ben-kaufman-interview/

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