Indie Inventor: Quirky + Pivot Power Get a Turn on TV

Indie Inventor: Quirky + Pivot Power Get a Turn on TV

On Tuesday, August 30th at 10 pm, recent RISD graduate Jake Zien 11 GD will make his TV debut – playing himself.

He will be featured on the first episode of Quirky, a new reality show on the Sundance Channel that aims to bring innovation to life by showing the process and personalities behind successful inventions. Zien designed a flexible power strip calledPivot Power, which can be manipulated into different shapes to accommodate the multiple, bulky plugs that are the bane of any gadget geek’s existence.

The Sundance show is named after the product development company that helped Zien to bring his product from concept to market. A startup itself, Quirky helps designers and inventors to further develop and refine their ideas by submitting them to a crowd-sourced review process. Visitors to the site get to vote on each product and even contribute their ideas for colors, materials and what to call it. Successful contributions are recognized with credit and even a cut of the proceeds.

“We’re here to tell the stories of inventors and make invention accessible,” said Quirky’s CEOBen Kaufman during a visit to RISD last winter to talk to students about entrepreneurship.

Zien’s idea started as a class project and has quickly become a runaway success, selling more than 60,000 units. And his experience with RISD crits played a critical role in helping him to benefit from the Quirky process: “I was able to separate my ego from my idea,” he notes. “My input was finely tuned because of my experience of being critiqued.”

Related stories

Students Reconsider Water in the Southwest

In a cross-disciplinary fall studio, Landscape Architecture and Ceramics students explored ideas for preserving water resources—and ways of life—in the American Southwest.

Rewards of Ethical Practice

Toronto-based apparel designer Peggy Sue Deaven-Smiltnieks 09 AP is showing that fashion can be a force for good.

Wrangling Ideas

Now that the final season of Adventure Time is airing, illustrator and comic book artist Andy Ristaino 97 FAV is happily exploring new directions.