Pivot Power

A crazy lottery win that taught me a lot. idea i started in high school, submitted to a startup in college, launched at BBB, won awards, sold millions of units.

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In 2006, when I was almost a high school senior, I spent the summer studying industrial design at RISD's precollege program.

A sketch of a product concept from my industrial design classes.
A sketch of a product concept from my industrial design classes.
A sketch of a product concept from my industrial design classes.
A sketch of a product concept from my industrial design classes.
A sketch of a product concept from my industrial design classes.

My final project was a concept for a power strip that could extend to fit adapters of any size.

My original sketch of the extendable power strip.
My presentation board for the extendable power strip.
My very poorly made physical model of the power strip.

I knew the idea had teeth. But I didn't know how to do anything with it — until 2010, when a family friend told me about Quirky, a startup “invention platform” that developed products from crowdsourced ideas.

Bored in class, I paid $99 to submit “The Usable Power Strip” to Quirky.

Best hundred bucks I ever spent.

Here's my submission on quirky.com, and the renderings I included with it.

In just under a year, my sketch became a real, shipping thing, sold at Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, and online.

Pivot Power launched in summer 2011 and immediately became Quirky's bestselling, best-known product. It landed Quirky (and me) in the pages of Wired, Inc, and the New York Times, and across the tech blogosphere.

Its promise earned Quirky distribution in big-box retail, including a flashy launch with Bed Bath & Beyond, where shoppers could find an entire Quirky aisle.

Pivot Power's launch display in the window of the flagship Bed Bath & Beyond on 6th Avenue in Manhattan.
A better look at the window display.
The Quirky aisle inside Bed Bath and Beyond, stacked to the ceiling with Pivot Powers.

The Pivot Power family in marketing photos from Quirky.

Patents, awards and honors

  • Red Dot Design Award winner 2012
  • Included in the Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum's permanent collection, and the exhibition Beautiful Users
  • Patented around the world
  • Covered in Wired magazine under the headline From the "Why Didn't We Think of That Department"
  • Sold (for a time) at the MoMA Design Store and MoMA Gift Shop
  • Pivot Power on display at the MoMA Design Store.