Crowdsourcing for Ideas

Constance Gutske reported in yesterday’s New York Times that, “Some of the best business ideas are inspired by others, or so the wisdom of the crowd goes. That is leading more entrepreneurs to tap into other people’s brains — rather than just their pocketbooks — to test new products, set pricing and bring ideas to market faster.”

The article noted that, “While well-established crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo dip into people’s pockets, crowdsourcing taps into their brains. Experts say that turning to the masses can even yield sharper answers than other methods.

“‘Crowdsourcing has replaced focus groups,’ said Chris Hicken, president of UserTesting, a company based in Mountain View, Calif., that specializes in sifting through the ideas of crowds on behalf of online businesses. ‘It’s faster and a lot cheaper. Innovation is going so fast that we need faster answers.’

“UserTesting, for instance, helped Speek, a conference calling service, adjust its web design to make it more understandable. As a result, registrations jumped 60 percent, according to Speek.”

The Times article added that, “Other online retailers are turning to crowds for the final say on which products to develop.

“Josh Gustin, co-founder of the online men’s wear store Gustin in San Francisco, put his own twist on crowdsourcing. He was searching for a better way to sell his handmade wares, which include jeans from denim woven on vintage shuttle looms. Three years ago, he hit on a new idea partly inspired by Kickstarter: asking customers to financially back the apparel they like.”

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