Crowdsourcing Meets Crowdfunding – Design GE’s Next Big Hit on Indiegogo!

GE FirstBuild cold brew challenge

Highlights:

  • GE’s FirstBuild is offering an expected $30,000 in prizes for winners of the Cold Brew Design Challenge
  • FirstBuild launched two successful campaigns on Indiegogo in 2015, with over $3 million in sales: the Opal Nugget Ice Maker and Paragon Induction Cooktop
  • FirstBuild is an open community of engineers, designers, and enthusiasts who are changing the way innovative products come to market

In the 18 months since GE’s FirstBuild has been in existence, we have learned one really valuable lesson: Be open. When we opened the doors of the FirstBuild microfactory in July of 2014, we overturned decades of precedent that innovation in companies large and small must happen behind closed doors.

Picture this: FirstBuild’s microfactory is a makerspace in Louisville, Kentucky where we share our latest product ideas with the FirstBuild community, both on-site and online. Everything we are working on is visible to the community. Even better, the makerspace is open (for free) to the public, so they can use our tools for their own projects or build upon our ideas with the opportunity of rewards when their concepts hit the market.

FirstBuild is one of GE Appliances’ key paths to market for innovative products. In 2015, FirstBuild and the community co-created 10 new products. Last February, we launched the Paragon Induction Cooktop on Indiegogo, which has earned over $350,000 on Indiegogo to date. We returned to Indiegogo in July to launch the Opal Nugget Ice Maker, which has earned nearly $3 million on Indiegogo and is one of Indiegogo’s top 10 ten campaigns of all time.

GE FirstBuild factory

FirstBuild hosted a Hackathon in April 2015 at the microfactory in Louisville, Kentucky, where the winning team created House Roast, a coffee bean roaster for a conventional oven.

Crowdsourcing Meets Crowdfunding

Why be open? We have learned that openness breeds passion. Consider that FirstBuild offers the opportunity for anyone, regardless of discipline or experience, to participate in designing our next product. What happens? Designers from around the globe who care about what we are doing engage in an open discussion about our products. Who participates? Only the most engaged and passionate designers. The FirstBuild community is one of the few organizations where it is guaranteed that the only people involved in developing the product are those who want to be there. We believe that the best way to create products that people care about is to get those who care involved from the very beginning.

We believe that the best way to create products that people care about is to get those who care involved from the very beginning.

As far as we know, FirstBuild is the only company to involve the crowd in every step of development from ideation to commercialization. Indiegogo has been a terrific place to sell our co-created products. As a community of cutting-edge technologists and early adopters, the Indiegogo community shares the same core value of openness that we hold dear. The end-to-end engagement of community has allowed us to create products that would never have existed otherwise.

Cold Brew Design Challenge

In the last year, FirstBuild community members and employees have developed a taste for cold brewed coffee (the kind that involves steeping fine-ground coffee beans in room temperature water for 12 to 24 hours). The coffee has a much smoother flavor due to its low acidity. We’ve developed technology that allows us to reduce the time to cold brew down to 10 minutes or less with extraction levels similar to traditional cold brew. Now we are reaching out to our community for design concepts.

Designers everywhere have the chance to create a product that will be in thousands of homes by the end of this year

Arguably the coolest part about this is that designers everywhere have the chance to create a product that will be in thousands of homes by the end of this year — AND for the first time ever, we are offering a portion of the proceeds from our crowdfunding campaign, with total prize money of up to $30,000. Anyone can join, so check out the challenge here.

FirstBuild Indiegogo cold brew challenge

Join the Community, Win the Challenge

We invite designers everywhere to join the Cold Brew Design Challenge and enter for the opportunity to win thousands of dollars. I look forward to working with the winners to create the next major phenomenon on Indiegogo.

Curious how GE FirstBuild used Indiegogo to validate their product-market fit? Read Taylor’s first guest blog post on what they learned from their Paragon Induction Cooktop campaign.

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