People-Powered Product Companies?

Hello, loyal readers, Jake here – deep from within the depths of client work.

One of my clients asked me this week for some ideas of “great product companies who really understand how to work with consumers for design and development, and are turning out physical products because of it”. The example, of course, was Threadless. Derek called it “People-Powered Products“. (Check out our Clue Unit podcast where we talked about this topic) Here’s Derek’s three criteria:

  1. Include Community Tools
    That means community members can make stuff that’s integral to the product – not just comment on the “official” stuff.
  2. Embrace the Wisdom of Crowds
    That means members can collaborate, not just producing stuff but also editing and judging what’s been produced.
  3. Produce a Physical Object
    That means the end result of the collaboration produces a tangible product. It doesn’t necessarily have to be for sale (but it helps).

As I started putting together a list of other great companies, I thought it might be an interesting topic for blog brainstorming. Here’s my initial stab – who else do you fine readers love?

  • JPG Magazine
  • Flickr (a bit of stretch, but you can collaborate on the photos then others can buy them via the site or third parties)

Yeah, short list, huh?

To include some cool businesses that don’t include collaboration, or only have minor collaboration but are fantastic at allowing people to make stuff:

And just to round out the list with some groups that fit our three criteria, but redefine our traditional definition of “product”:

And one last list… the “I wish they had social features” list:

So what about you? Have any pointers to other companies that are empowering “the people” to create and sell their own products? Post in comments or drop me an email (jake AT communityguy DOT com) and I’ll continue to update this post.

I’ve also posted this over on LinkedIn Answers.