Via Burkhard Schneider's Blog, I got notice of Toronto, Canada, based Joy de Vivre. The start-up opened its doors last month and is entirely based on the concept of "collective customer commitment" that I described in 2006 in a MIT Sloan Management Review Article with Susumu Ogawa: Get the commitment of customers via crowdsourcing first before you invest in final product development and production.
On their website, Joy de Vivre descirbe their concept as follows:
Using the crowdsourcing potential of the internet, these costs can be distributed over many people, making the individual costs affordable. We raise the capital required to manufacture a product by pre-selling its production. The retail price paid by you, our community of engaged consumers, is placed a development fund. This small figure, multiplied by hundreds or thousands of people, fully funds the product development costs. Designers get their idea made, you receive your product, and we all share in bringing a great idea to life. If the product doesn’t get fully funded, you get your money back."
One of the two products recently listed on the site is the "Fruity Bowl", a — surprise — Fruit Bowl for $34.00. Designed by Terence Cooke, the company calculated that they have to pre-sell 1500 units of this product to go into production, The clock is ticking, 105 days to go. Remember: While the pictures look great, Fruity has not yet been manufactured. In order to bring Fruity to life, customers have to fund it. The funding period for Fruity lasts for 16 weeks beginning from its first sale. Within this time period, Fruity needs to sell a minimum of 1500 units to be manufactured. If Fruity is not fully funded within the 16 week period, all purchases are refunded within 4 days.
For a more comprehensive description of their approach, go here: http://www.joydevivre.org/pages/how-this-works
I am curious to see whether this will work. Its success strongly will depend from (1) the buzz the company can create to generate traffic and bring potential customer-investors to their site; and (2) the quality and appeal of the designs. But Threadless has shown that the basic model works! So let's follow how Joy de Vivre is doing.