How Big Brands are using Crowdsourcing and Open Innovation

Written by Beatriz —  June 29, 2013

crowdsourcing crowdfunding big brands

Crowdsourcing is not just a source of information or funding: it’s a marketing tool, a way to generate ideas and something to connect brands with their fans, customers or followers

Wired Magazine described -in June, 2006- Crowdsourcing as “the act of a company or institution taking a function once performed by employees and outsourcing it to an undefined (and generally large) network of people in the form of an open call.” Where are we going? Big companies like Lego, Microsoft and Starbucks are also getting on board: here, and now, welcome to the “Crowdsourcing revolution”


Open innovation is seeping in companies: innovation is no longer carried out on an R+D closed lab. Customers and users of a brand are the ones who often know best what they need and like. That’s why the companies who decide to organize open innovation contests always get incredible results.

Megafounder Lego Cuuso Back to the future

LEGO know its users -adults or kids- are very creative. That’s why they’ve developed LEGO Cuusoo, a website where anyone may upload his idea about future LEGO products-to-be; it’s the community who decides which product should be the next to launch. They are looking for new, original and creative ideas. When a project reaches 10,000 people who like it, it’s manufactured and offered for sale by LEGO. The creator of this product will receive 1% of all the sales it may generate. You just need to take a look to see the level of creativity of the hardcore fans of LEGO.

One of the latest products that has become a reality is a time machine, which has achieved over half a million views and 2,000 comments.


Lay’s is an example of a brand that has asked its customers’ creativity to launch new flavors in its products. Under the slogan “Do us a flavor” they received nearly four million proposals. The winner-flavor “Cheesy garlic bread” was chosen from the votes of the fans and a panel of experts, among which were some of the best chefs in the USA and actress Eva Longoria. In late 2013, the product will be available in supermarkets and will start to be part of the range of company flavors

Megafounder Lay's do us a flavor

To Anindita Mukherjee, CMO of Lay’s, the most important thing of the whole campaign is the popularity the brand acquired, how much people talked about them. The company has been one of the pioneers in using crowdsourcing methods, but this campaign is not new: in 2009 the Australian Smith’s Snackfood brand asked his customers what new flavor they would like to try. They received 315,000 proposals.

The difference in the number of proposals between Lay’s and Smith’s Snackfood is because we are increasingly accustomed to using social networks and taking part in collaborative processes: companies realizes that being open to their customers and enabling them to develop their creativity within the company gives very good results. In the end, this is an unlimited R+D ,open to those who best know the brand: its customers.


The software giant wants all students to have their own laptop. They has launched a platform called Chip, in which every American student may open a profile simply using a Facebook account.

Megafounder Microsoft crowdfunding fund your pc

After choosing a computer, among 14 models available (with prices between $359 and $1079), the student has to spread his goal to get donations from friends, family and third parties to reach the price of the laptop. Microsoft assumes 10% of the price, which already reflects the 10% that Microsoft has chipped in.


18,000 establishments in 55 countries means many customers. Starbucks is one of those brands that are very easy to retain customers and make any other coffee tasteless for them, either because of the raw material or the shopping experience.

Megafounder crowdsourcing my starbucks idea

Therefore, they launched My Starbucks idea where customers may propose ideas about product, experiences and involvement. Users may upload new ideas or vote and comment on others. With no monetary reward or financial compensation in exchange, they got over 100,000 ideas. The most voted proposal is “Buy 10 coffees, get one free”, with more than 100,000 votes. We’ll have to wait for the company to listen to coffee lovers and carry out this proposal.


From Silicon Valley, the company designs, manufactures and sells electric cars and components for electric vehicles. Its CEO is Elon Musk, a serial entrepreneur with vast experience in successful business: Zip2, PayPal, Solar City or SpaceX are part of their curriculum.

Megafounder Tesla motors model S

Tesla has evolved its finance in order to get more than $130M from their fans (now also customers) in $5,000 reservations fees at 0% interest instead of facing 10–15% interest of corporate debt. This is an innovative, powerful source of capital and shows a huge support from the early adopters, investors and shareholders of Tesla Motors..

What business or startups would you like to participate? Which open innovation project would you like to work on?

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COO at Megafounder. Startupholic. Human rights activist.