An Ecovative idea: biodegradable mushroom packaging

Ever think about where product packaging comes from or where it goes after you use it? Scott Shephard does. As Quirky’s “VP of Cardboard,” everything we package goes through his hands.


One of Scott’s biggest challenges? How to make packaging sustainable. Most materials, although recyclable, release chemicals and toxins when composted. Recycling is actually downcycling; the process reduces the quality of a material over time, until its lower-quality products are eventually incinerated or landfilled.


In a world where throwaway products have become the norm, it’s hard to think outside the (cardboard) box. But what if we could eliminate the concept of waste entirely? That means designing products, packaging and systems that biodegrade and become food for our earth, instead of toxins.

Ecovative is a company that’s stepped up with a solution: a no-waste, biodegradable material. Their mushroom packaging material is non-toxic, and can be grown anywhere from factory to in-home. It only takes a few steps:

1. Design a mold

2. Fill with agricultural waste

3. Add some ‘shrooms

4. Wait a few days…

...And voila! You’ve got your very own biodegradable packaging.

The end result is compostable, packs like styrofoam, and tastes great! (According to Scott. Please don’t eat.) Are mushrooms the future of packaging? Sound off in the comments below!


The Launch of Quirky 2.0

For over a year now, we’ve been working to redesign our process and platform to take into account all that we’ve learned over the course of our last six years. One of the major takeaways was the importance of giving community members more control when bringing ideas to life. After a bit of time in beta and a positive response from the community, we’re excited to introduce significant improvements in how we operate.

Welcome to the new Q. Here are some of the great new features and tools you will experience when you jump in:


More control in the hands of our inventors and community

  • Ability to post ideas and collaborate in private: This allows you to keep your idea under wraps until you’re ready to share it with the world.
    • Ability to easily use our tools for collaboration and take your ideas off the platform and onto other platforms: Moving to Eval is now an option you have as a community member, not a requirement.
    • Control over what makes it through Eval: Every idea at our live weekly product evaluation will be decided by a full community vote rather than the previous staff voting system.
    • Control over what goes to Eval: Previously a mystifying process, all you need to do is complete a set of submission projects and you're guaranteed a spot at product evaluation.
    • Control over Influence: We’re taking control away from Quirky; now you’re in full control of your reward structure. Keep the royalties for yourself, or give some away to your fellow community members if you need help completing submission projects.

Built around our go-forward (powered by Quirky) business model

  • Our platform now highlights our flagship partners and the categories that they cover.
    • The platform is now available for our partners to use internally, in private for their own product development purposes and projects.
    • Our new technology allows for swift and regularly occurring Invention Challenges, which have been wildly successful in the past.

A more stable code base allows us to roll out updates and changes much more frequently

  • We officially have no more “technical debt,” so we can quickly iterate and make Quirky a constantly improving invention platform.

Pure focus on platform and invention

  • Our prior site was trying to be a commerce platform,  an invention submission site, a collaboration site, etc. By eliminating commerce we’ve focused our platform on the one thing we (and our community) do best: collaborative invention online.

Thank you to our community who got us this far and taught us so much.  Although getting a handle on the new process may take some time at first, your feedback has largely manifested itself in the architecture of this new site, and we’ll continue to look to you for guidance on what features to prioritize moving forward.

Our new platform does not represent the entirety of our vision,  but the changes we’ve made represent a giant leap forward in our ability to continue to build a community and platform that makes invention something that everyone in the world can be involved in.

Happy inventing,


Meet the makers: TATS Cru

Nicer, one of the founding members of the the Bronx-based graffiti group TATS Cru, will be on the Eval panel Thursday night to weigh in on the week’s best ideas. So we caught up with all the TATS Cru guys to find out how these inventive makers went from illegally tagging subway cars to founding a graffiti company with big-name clients—including Coca-Cola, Nicki Minaj, Ford Motors, and more.


Like so many Quirky inventors, TATS Cru started pursuing their dreams by following a creative passion. Nicer explains, “There wasn’t such a word as street art. We did it for each other’s attention. We didn’t do it for the mainstream or to become famous. And it’s kind of like being an inventor: You have a product and you show the world; they didn’t know they needed it until the inventor showed it to them.”


Nicer’s advice to inventors and makers everywhere:

“Doing graffiti is like anything else. The more you do it, the better you get at it. You’re going to make a mess and you’re going to drip—but you got to keep doing it.”


Tune in to on Thursday at 7pm ET to see Nicer live on the Eval panel.

National Inventors Month: #whyinvent recap

During National Inventors Month, we asked our community, staff, and friends to share stories about why they invent. We compiled a few of our favorite responses in this video—we dare you not to be inspired!

We also got some great submissions on Twitter:

Want to share your own #whyinvent story? We’ll continue to collect and post your invention stories throughout the year! Just send them to us on TwitterFacebook, or in the comments of this blog post.

Happy National Inventors Month!


At-home tinkerer turned Quirky inventor: Denny Fong’s story

Sure, Denny Fong is the inventor of Spotter and Norm, but his creativity shines even brighter at home with his family. This optometrist and father of two is constantly innovating the world around him. Just look at his son’s treehouse bed (jealous!).


So how did Denny get so inventive? From his parents, of course. “My dad always worked with tools. He wasn’t afraid to teach me how to use tools at a young age,” explains Denny. “I learned a lot of creativity from my parents.”


And now that he’s a dad himself, Denny is passing his maker mindset on to his sons. In fact, he built an entire craft table to foster their creativity.


“The kids love it. They’re drawing all the time,” he says. “I let them do what they do. I let them tell me what it is. I don’t say, ‘you know, that’s how you should draw it.’”

It’s that open-minded attitude that’s made Denny one of Quirky’s most prolific inventors. He’s constantly iterating on concepts, contributing insights, and submitting new ideas. His philosophy?

“Design stuff that you want, and not what other people want. So even if you do fail, it's unique and it's something that you want.”


How are you passing inventiveness on to your kids?