Today marks the launch of a new company that I’m delighted to see added to the startup ecosystem and even more excited to join as one of the signature “innovators.” Crowd Companies, led by business analyst and strategist extraordinaire, Jeremiah Owyang, is a new brand council for the collaborative economy. Their mission is to connect big brands with small innovators so these bigger companies can learn from smaller, more nimble organizations and stay resilient.
The council will focus on answering how big brands can be part of the sharing economy, maker movement and new forms of co-innovation. Make no mistake: these big brands are often stuck in their ways, yet many are very alert to the reality that they need to listen to the next wave of creation, or die trying. There are currently 19 big brands on the council, including Home Depot, Whole Foods and American Eagle. They’ll be matched with smaller innovators like The Grommet, CrowdTap and TechShop to name just a few.
In the days of government shutdowns and collapsing business models, the newest business disruption isn’t about sharing on social media, but about literal sharing in the physical world, and new companies are popping up around this idea all the time. Take Airbnb, for example; they make money through people sharing their homes with others. See this post on my own, first hand experience with them. Or CustomMade, an online marketplace that connects buyers with makers who can create custom pieces such as jewelry, furniture or anything else you can think of. All of this represents innovation, reliance on the crowd and the demand for change in ways of creating, buying, and selling. The “crowd” is becoming a company in this way…and it’s only getting started.
The Grommet continues to see this demand in the marketplace as we mull over wholesale platforms and partnerships with big retailers. Our strong, engaged community provides critical feedback to new consumer product ventures that have no market research or sales data to speak of. Our comment board has earned our makers hundreds of pieces of individual, direct feedback over the last year alone. Our mission to “buy differently” is also one of the main reasons that Rakuten, the largest ecommerce company in Japan decided to invest in The Grommet.
Will your company adapt to these new market demands? Or can you help to lead big brands on ways to stay current? Learn more about Crowd Companies and join their email list here.