Appliance Giant GE Crowd-Sources Ideas, Crowd-Funds Costs

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July 01, 2015

When people go on Indiegogo, they don’t expect to support or purchase a product by a global manufacturer. But GE is relying on these sites, and the public, to develop better appliances.

Forbes reports that GE crowd-sourced the idea for their newest product – Opal, which serves chewable frozen pellets of ice that restaurant chains like Sonic use to chill sodas – on their new online community FirstBuild.

The niche product will only be sold through crowdfunding site Indiegogo, and will be manufactured in volume depending on orders at FirstBuild’s 33,000-square-foot microfactory in Louisville, Ky.

The new mindset, in the words of head of R&D for GE Appliances and Director of FirstBuild Natarajan Venkatakrishnan: “If we’re going to fail, we want to fail fast.”

“Total time from concept to production: four months,” the article in Forbes says. “If it flops, no worries. Upfront costs were some 20 times less than a traditional product rollout, which can cost tens of millions of dollars.”

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