Introducing the next big thing: You!

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In the movies there's often a character obsessed with making it big, tinkering in the garage or basement in the hopes of patenting the next million dollar idea. It's usually a pesky uncle talking up his newest invention, say an electric potato peeler or solar powered tricycle. He's sure to make a fortune if only someone would front him the money.

Too bad uncle Al didn't live in the internet age.

A new site called Quirky promises to take care of everything, including the distribution. Launched yesterday, quirky lets you submit an idea, and each week one winning product concept is voted on by visitors. That product then gets input on the name, logo and packaging, the works.

Once it's all decided, Quirky outsources production (and claims it's all done in the United States), and puts the product up for a pre-sale. There must be a minimum number of orders, and once that number is reached production begins, credit cards get billed and the item ships out. Not enough orders and no one gets charged.

Quirky kicks back 30% of sales to the "community" and everyone gets paid. The originator of the idea gets 12%, and the remaining 18% gets divvied up among all the people who voted. There's a $99 submission fee, meant to weed out frivolous entries, but for roughly $100, Uncle Al gets an entire product launch from start to finish including marketing and materials.

There are already Web sites that use crowdsourcing as part of their schtick. It's worked well for Threadless and Cafepress, both sites that let "the community" design or choose what gets made. An upcoming site, Coin That Phrase, lets you submit a pithy phrase, archives it and makes it available as a piece of merchandise. This one doesn't launch until the middle of June, but you can follow and register new phrases on Twitter to get a head start on greatness.
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