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RadioShack launches 'Invention Challenge' with Quirky

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On Thursday, electronics retailer RadioShack threw down the proverbial gauntlet and launched an invention challenge with crowdsourcing start-up Quirky. The aptly named RadioShack Invention Challenge is targeting smart toys ideas for "kids of all ages." The winning submissions will be manufactured by Quirky and sold online at RadioShack.com as well as in RadioShack retail locations nationwide.

The RadioShack Invention Challenge is open to inventors around the world. All ideas must be submitted online via Quirky’s collaborative platform here. The deadline for submissions is May 1. The top entries will be evaluated live via webcast at Quirky.com/live on June 5.

Fort Worth, Texas-based RadioShack currently operates 4,300 stores in the United States. The company began selling Quirky products online and in 1,000 select retail locations earlier this month. During last month’s fourth quarter earnings call, CEO Joseph C. Magnacca stated that this partnership would include “other exclusive products with [Quirky] in stores by the holiday season.” The winning smart toys from the invention challenge may or may not be the “exclusive products” that Magnacca mentioned. Irrespective of that, Magnacca believes that "a tight line of new products [from Quirky]... will become a powerful competitive advantage."

Quirky has made a name for itself as a “crowdsourcing invention company” since launching in 2009. The company has raised more than $170 million to date including $79 million in Series D funding led by GE Ventures in November of last year. Each week, Quirky receives thousands of idea submissions from its community of 827,000 inventors. From these, it selects three to four ideas which are ultimately manufactured and distributed to its network of retail partners. To date, the company has released 299 products to the market.

In January, RadioShack announced a new brand positioning that is rooted in a “do it together” spirit and will “highlight [RadioShack’s] evolving role in consumer’s lives.” The company launched a new integrated marketing campaign in February; including a series of "Do It Together (DIT)" TV commercials. The RadioShack Invention Challenge seems to perfectly illustrate the company's new ethos.

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