More corporations are recognizing the efficacy of capturing consumer feedback by using crowdfunding to pretail forthcoming products. General Electric, a multi-national corporate behemoth is one of these companies. They don’t need your money – they want your advice.
FirstBuild is GE’s “co-creation community”. Described as a physical and online community dedicated to conceiving, designing, engineering and building the next generation of major home appliances. It fosters co-creation among engineers, designers, makers and home enthusiasts worldwide by enabling them to participate in the development of appliances to ensure FirstBuild brings products to market people actually want.
A new model for the consumer appliance division, it is a partnership between GE Appliances and Local Motors. Currently FirstBuild is previewing two new products at Maker Faire Bay Area 2015.
ChillHub is a refrigerator with two USB ports and built-in Wi-Fi connectivity. It also has an open-source iOS app that provides integration in the refrigerator by allowing a user access to sensor data and control of the refrigerator’s components. Opal Nugget Ice Maker is a countertop nugget ice maker that can create ice at a rate of one pound per hour.
“These two products illustrate how FirstBuild can foster innovation in home appliances by teaming up with a diverse community,” said Taylor Dawson, FirstBuild product enthusiast and GE Appliances engineer. “FirstBuild is a way to create appliances collaboratively with the best minds from around the world and bring them to market in only a matter of months.”
Using feedback from a wide audience can be far more effective than traditional focus groups that are costly, cumbersome and all too frequently miss the mark. While it is no guarantee of wide consumer success, crowdfunding can quickly indicate whether there is sufficient consumer interest to launch a product – and with with features.
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