Failed New York City startup Quirky has risen from the dead.
Quirky was founded in 2009 with the goal of “making invention accessible” by creating a platform for inventors to submit their ideas, which Quirky could then manufacture and sell. But the startup shut down in 2015 after filing for bankruptcy and agreed to sell its smart-home business, Wink, for $15 million.
Now, Quirky is back with new owners and a new business model.
While the new version of Quirky retains some its former qualities – it’s still a platform for inventors to share their ideas and receive royalties if the product makes it to market – Quirky itself will no longer manufacture the products. Instead, Quirky will license the products to companies like Shopify and HSN.
Quirky previously specialized in consumer products like electronics and home goods, and the new Quirky will do the same. The company will now be led by Gina Waldhorn, cofounder of “innovation boutique” Evol8tion. She became president of Quirky in March.
The startup’s first real breakthrough came in 2010 with a bendable outlet called Pivot Power, an idea submitted by a college student named Jake Zien. Pivot Power became one of Quirky’s best-selling products – in 2015, it had raked in more than $2 million for Zien and other community members who influenced its design.
Once Quirky began to grow, however, the company ran into several setbacks that eventually forced it to shut down. Quirky struggled to raise money, went through multiple rounds of layoffs, scaled back production, and shuttered its San Francisco office. All told, the company had an overall burn of $150 million on net-losses of $120 million and realized that its founding business model had broken at scale. Founder and CEO Ben Kaufman stepped down in August 2015.
But since its shutdown, Quirky has continued to add inventors to its platform at the rate of more than 100 per day, and has seen more than 25,000 submissions to its site since 2015.
Former CEO Kaufman will not be involved in the rebirth of the company – he currently leads BuzzFeed’s Product Lab – but he told Axios’ Dan Primack that he “hopes it works out” for Quirky.