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New York tech start-up — Quirky bags $79 million in Series D to go on making invention possible

New York has a tech com­pa­ny that despite its fre­net­ic cre­ativ­i­ty almost shuns pub­lic­i­ty; how­ev­er, as any prod­uct man­ag­er work­ing in tech can tes­ti­fy, when your com­pa­ny gets to raise a thun­der­ing $79 mil­lion in Series D, it’s hard to keep it qui­et. That is what Quirky the tech start­up has done in its three short years of life, attract­ing eye-pop­ping invest­ments now total­ing £175 million.

$30 mil­lion of the lat­est round came from GE Ven­tures, with much of the rest com­ing from exist­ing investors Andreessen Horowitz; RRE Ven­tures, Nor­west Ven­ture Part­ners and Klein­er Perkins Caulfield & Byers. Curi­ous prod­uct man­agers will be pon­der­ing on how such a young com­pa­ny has gar­nered such immense ven­ture funding.

From idea to shelf 

Found­ed by Ben Kauf­man (now its CEO), Quirky aims to bring inno­v­a­tive new inven­tions to the mar­ket­place via its glob­al net­work of inven­tors, prod­uct influ­encers and its own expert prod­uct design team. That’s how ideas locked in people’s heads get to reach the store shelves, nur­tured from the ear­li­est stages to the last by Quirky’s community.

Any ves­tiges of skep­ti­cism lurk­ing in the mind of our curi­ous prod­uct man­agers will be dis­pelled with one look at the company’s growth. It start­ed off by mak­ing plas­tic kitchen prod­ucts with a devel­op­ment team of one, and has since expand­ed into far more com­plex tech gad­gets with a prod­uct devel­op­ment team now num­ber­ing 75.

A prod­uct manager’s dream partnership

The process has undoubt­ed­ly been assist­ed by its part­ner­ship with Gen­er­al Elec­tric, which began in April this year, and came to fruition last week with a batch of four new prod­ucts they built joint­ly. Avail­able to buy from Best Buy and Home Depot, they include a motion, light, sound, tem­per­a­ture and humid­i­ty sen­sor, a smart pow­er strip, a smart egg tray and a real-life desk­top wid­get – all con­trolled by Quirky’s very own pro­pri­etary smart­phone app, Wink.

Things are now set to go from strength to strength; GE will make thou­sands of its patents avail­able to Quirky. They include thin-bar­ri­er coat­ings for elec­tri­cal devices, asset-track­ing tech­nol­o­gy and holo­graph­ic and fast-focus­ing lens tech­nolo­gies. The Wink app will not only con­trol all new prod­ucts, Ben Kauf­man says, but will func­tion as an open plat­form for oth­ers to build on top of.

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