Innovation happens at it’s best when companies have wide ranging experiences and sources for ideas. It’s been shown that leaders with a broad network of unique individuals across an organization have better ideas that can influence the direction and innovation of a company. It’s also been shown in other studies that a group doing research will have better results if the members have a diverse background. This is true in since in general as well. Much of the breakthroughs we see happen at the interfaces of scientific disciplines. Which is one of the reasons why it takes so long for paradigms to change in scientific communities – the old guard doesn’t want to adopt to the new truth. Scientists that move into that field from one of those boarder disciplines will be more likely to adopt that new idea than the old guard. A great example of that is physicists and biologists moving into Economics. They are bringing new ideas to economics that aren’t supported by the current theories but are slowly making head way (HFT use these theories more than classical economists).
Platforms like Kickstarter, Etsy, and Git Hub, make it a lot easier for unique ideas to reach a broad audience and enable collaboration. Github is all about collaboration between different coders, while Kickstarter and Etsy aren’t about collaboration but about sharing of ideas though design.
Kickstarter and Etsy literally are market places of ideas. These places allow people to scratch the itch of sticking it to a corporation that might make a similar product and helping out the little guy at the same time. I personally like both places because I’ve found some really interesting presents for my wife that will likely be unique to the area I live. Essentially, Etsy is so low of volume that in a given city there might be one other person with that same item.
Many of the products fall into the “me too” category where they are fixing a minor problem that isn’t really a big deal. They are addressing first world problems. These are similar to the mobile app masturbation fest that we call Silicon Valley or San Francisco today. Some of these ideas are really novel or could lead to some cool concepts if given the support that they need. However, the ones that aren’t really useful won’t actually survive. They just don’t get the backing that they need – if they are a Kickstarter project or won’t have enough people buy stuff if they are an Etsy company.
The other interesting thing about both is that once you reach a certain size you’re done. In Kickstarter’s case that’s reaching your financial goal to complete your project while in Etsy’s case if you sell too much you have to move on to a different platform.
For the most part, these platforms are all about selling products or concepts that could be manufactured in different ways, but we want the hand made feel to it (or unique designs). I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Especially since there can be Kickstarters for documentaries and activities in third world countries.
That’s where the market place for innovation comes through. Aside from shipping concerns I don’t really care where the product is being designed or made. I’m purchasing them for the uniqueness rather than where it’s made. Some people might focus on that, I don’t however.
I will definitely use these platforms in the future. In fact, I essentially bought a watch on Kickstarter today because the goal was already made. I have no idea when I’ll get it, so when it comes it’ll be a surprise. Kind of like the wallet that I bought. I’m not super happy with it, but I’m helping someone’s dream come true. And that is really what I’m buying when I use Kickstarter.