Quirky files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as Wink smart home system goes up for grabs

Before Kickstarter emerged as the leading hub of crowdfunded devices, there was Quirky, a company devoted to reinventing invention. Founded by Ben Kaufman, who had previously founded the Mophie accessories company best known for its iPhone snap-on batteries.

Quirky has a model that is in some ways the opposite of Kickstarter’s or Indiegogo’s. Rather than have the crowd fund a product and have inventors create it, Quicky’s model was that the crowd would suggest products and then Quirky would create it. The company’s New York offices were a hub of professionals specializing in all aspects of product creation including marketing, legal, sourcing, branding and industrial and mechanical design. Inventors would get a perpetual royalty on designs that became products, and people who suggested product names and other attributes would also receive a small percentage. Quirky staff voted on which products moved forward in a weekly meeting. It scored what became perhaps it’s biggest win relatively early with the snaking Pivot Power power strip that spawned several spinoffs.


Ubik Uno smartphone was made for you and me

These days, using a smartphone may seem easy to many of us, but making them is tough. There are a lot of tradeoffs that companies must make — the better the specs, the pricier the device.

Ubik Mobile hopes to become a more responsive player in the crowded Android market by tapping into the power of the people in a number of ways. First, by bypassing carriers and other retailers, it can cut out middlemen and the piece of the pie they command. Second, by launching the Ubik Uno,  its first phone on Kickstarter, it gets the benefit of getting case before fulfilling preorders. The Ubik includes many leading-edge components, including a  horizontally bezel-free display, an eight-core MediaTek processor and a 20 MP/4K camera with Sony sensor, at the price of a mid-tier device.

But the third way may be the most novel. The company plans to create a community that will vote on features for subsequent Ubik devices. Ubik seeks $200,000 by August 15th and the price of the smartphone, which is due to ship in September, is $345.