If you haven’t heard about it recently, the Oakland, California, based startup, GoldieBlox is making news headlines around the world. A commercial announcing it’s introduction to Toys R’ Us, notable for it’s ability to unite the image of Princess and Engineer rather than replacing one with the other, has been making it’s rounds on social media, earning over 600,000 views:
It’s Kickstarter campaign managed to surpass it’s goal of $150,000 in 30 days to reach it’s mark in four days and eventually raise $285,000. They’ve already reached $1 million in pre-sale orders and the first toys were shipped in March this year. But what’s notable about GoldieBlox isn’t just it’s monumental success in filling a crucial gap in the toy market, but it’s humble beginnings.
GoldieBlox didn’t begin in a marketing lab or behind an expensive group test. It was an idea that crossed the mind of Debbie Sterling, according to CNN, and was developed with the help of a gathering of friends in San Francisco called an “idea brunch”, where women gather to eat and pitch business concepts. It was through this process and some additional help from inventor David Kelley, that the concept and the realisation of GoldieBlox was born.
What does this teach us about innovation and great ideas? The main thing that this teaches us is that it isn’t just a big idea that creates a real solution and a real product. It’s also the development of that idea within a group and the support which makes it become a reality. Debbie Sterling could have easily dismissed the conversation she had with her friends at the idea brunch as inconsequential, but instead Sterling took the idea seriously and not only developed it with the help of friends, but with the support of a mentor.
There isn’t any reason why this type of situation has to happen outside of businesses or why this type of idea development is only applicable to start-ups or single one-off ideas. This process of establishing a platform for ideas, through the “ideas brunch”, of taking the ideas seriously, of gaining support, and of vetting them before going to market is what idea management allows for companies. Providing a space that takes ideas seriously and gives them support is part and parcel of what makes innovation happen.
GoldieBlox isn’t a stand-alone lesson of one specific product. While it was designed to address a gap in the market, this idea was something that any toy company could have taken on, but didn’t. Why? Someone must’ve pointed out within one of the largest toy companies that there’s an issue worth addressing, a gap in the market, and something that they could develop. At some point, these big businesses with more resources than Sterling’s Kickstarter decided to not take this idea seriously and inevitably paid the cost in $1 million pre-sale orders, just to start.
What GoldieBlox teaches us is that ideas are fundamentally valuable, both in the minds of little girls and in the minds of entrepreneurs willing to take those ideas seriously.
image credit: goldieblox.com
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Simon Hill is CEO and co-founder of Wazoku, an idea software company, an Associate Director with the Venture Capital Firm FindInvestGrow and an active member of the London technology and entrepreneurial community.