Innovation That Matters

New sneaker brand depends on crowds for design


More crowdsourced innovation! A startup based in Portland aims to harness the creativity of the crowds to build a new sneaker brand. Ryz, which is still in beta, lets users submit graphic designs for a high-top sneaker model. Members vote for their favourite designs, and the sneakers that get the most votes are taken into production. Designers receive a one-time payment of USD 1,000 plus one dollar for each pair sold. Shoes are priced at USD 90, and are produced in limited runs. Issues like manufacturing, shipping and sizes aren’t as straightforward for shoes as for t-shirts or posters, which means Ryz will need to implement sophisticated production and distribution processes. Thankfully, the company’s founder, Rob Langstaff, has plenty of industry experience–before starting Ryz, he ran Adidas’ operations in North America and Japan. As quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle, Langstaff believes Ryz will generate revenues of USD 40 million by 2012. Of course, rewarding community members for the designs they’ve submitted isn’t new. Threadless started its t-shirt competitions in 2000 and now has annual sales of USD 30 million and a profit margin of 30% (as estimated by Inc. Magazine). We’re familiar with the model’s benefits: by creating and voting, the community decides which products to sell, which means no guessing what customers want. No design staff, either, and no sales force since both designers and community promote the items they love. One to continue to be inspired by?



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