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When was the last time you came up with a brilliant idea but stopped there, without having the means or ability to execute it? There’s a solution to this in ‘Quirky’, a modern invention machine that takes ideas and refines, manufactures and markets them, before voila, your invention (yes yours, because you’re still given credit as the inventor), hits the store shelves.

In the past, one of the challenges of having a good idea was getting traction. Ideas that might not have seen the light of day 5-10 years ago now have an entire online industry dedicated to their execution, so they don’t just remain in the dark. Not only that, our digital world provides an organic means of marketing – achieve viral status via social media and you’re one foot in the door.

To start, there’s the obvious difficulty of refining an idea and coming up with a prototype, a gap that Quirky has filled. Etsy provides a different sort of help in the form of a virtual store, and crowd-funding platforms such as Kickstarter provide a platform to generate revenue, enabling people to make things happen for themselves.

Kickstarter also provides a means to rally people around an idea and test it, and entrepreneurs are increasingly turning to it to get their ideas and early stage companies off the ground. An article on Forbes highlighted those that have seen huge success, such as the Pebble E-Paper Watch, one of the first affordable smart watches on the market, which raised over $10 million in just over a month. Oculus Rift, a virtual-reality headset, raised around $2.5 million in 30 days, before going on to raise more capital and being acquired by Facebook for $2 billion.

This new age of invention and crowd support has prompted all sorts of ideas to come out of the woodwork. TIME published a list of the 25 best inventions of 2014 at the end of last year. A few stand-outs for me include Witricity, technology that allows appliances to pull power from a central charging base instead of using a cord; Superbananas, vitamin-A enriched bananas to help cure blindness in sub-Saharan Africa; and Quirky + GE aros, a smart air conditioner that is powered from an app that can track owners’ movements via GPS and turn itself off and on depending on their proximity to home.

Of course, the selfie stick features in TIME’s list too – slightly goofy, but there’s a market nonetheless.

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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