Ponoko manufactures products that creative consumers dream up. Users upload a design, and Ponoko makes the item and ships it to them, or to their buyers. Realizing that many consumers have great ideas for products, but lack the know-how to turn an idea into a manufacturable design, Ponoko has now added a clever new option: Ponoko ID.
Ponoko ID lets anyone submit a request, including a description (purpose, materials, colours, measurements, etc, plus links to relevant images, sketches or videos if they have them), as well as their ideal price and delivery deadline. Their request is then sent to a selection of designers who can put forward a bid by emailing a brief proposal to the shopper. After reviewing bids, the shopper can accept the one that best matches their Once the designer confirms the transaction, the request/bid becomes a binding agreement. The shopper makes payment to the designer (through Ponoko), and the designer creates the item. Creating transparency for both groups, shoppers and designers can review one another by leaving comments in their profiles.
Allowing consumers to have custom goods made to their own specifications is an interesting variation on the Intention Economy. As defined by Doc Searls: “The Intention Economy grows around buyers, not sellers. It leverages the simple fact that buyers are the first source of money.” While most examples of the Intention Economy have focused on consumers making their intentions known in order to get the best prices from retailers, applying the concept to a product’s conception creates a whole new world of opportunities for consumers and designers. “Consumers have grown accustomed to shopping at retail stores where mass produced items may fail to satisfy their needs,” explains David ten Have, Ponoko’s CEO. “Ponoko ID is the world’s first online service for getting unique products custom designed just for you, without the costs and hassles involved in finding a designer, manufacturer and materials.”