How to Leverage the Crowdsourcing Business Model for Success in Innovation

The primary idea of crowdsourcing has always been to obtain contributions for a cause from a large group of people. However, it has morphed into a collection of concepts and applications over the years. Today, you're most likely to encounter crowdsourcing online—with donation collection platforms such as GoFundMe and marketing shticks like Lay's "Do Us a Flavor" campaign.

What type of person thought that cappucino-flavored potato chips would be a hit? Anyway, the crowdsourcing business model is the most important application of crowdsourcing methodology for innovation leaders to recognize. And today, you're in luck because we will cover everything you need to know to leverage the crowdsourcing business model for successful innovation. 


What Are the 4 Types of Crowdsourcing?

Before we delve into the crowdsourcing business model, it’s essential to understand the primary pillars of crowdsourcing. Although crowdsourcing methods aren’t limited to these four concepts, the basis for the crowdsourcing business model is built upon crowd creation, crowd voting, crowd wisdom, and crowdfunding. 

Crowd Creation

This type of crowdsourcing refers to the collection of ideas from a group of people. It is the most common type of crowdsourcing, and companies often utilize it to engage their target market. 

Q: What is an example of crowdsourcing with crowd creation?

A: The Lay’s campaign we mentioned above is an excellent demonstration of crowd creation because it calls upon Lay’s fans to submit their ideas for new chip flavors.

Crowd Voting

Crowd voting is the process of leveraging community opinions and preferences to make decisions. This may be accomplished through polling that encourages the audience to vote or the collection of information about consumer behavior. 

Q: What is an example of crowdsourcing with crowd voting?

A: The Google algorithm utilizes crowd voting to determine which web pages will make it to the first page of search results. Articles that appear to engage the user for a longer period of time or satisfy search intent will be prioritized. 

Crowd Wisdom 

Crowd wisdom considers the collective opinion of a group rather than expert-level individuals. The theory is that large groups of people are often collectively better at problem-solving and innovating than individuals.

Q: What is an example of crowdsourcing with crowd wisdom?

A: Stefan Landolt, the founder of thingdust came up with an idea to monitor his apartment laundry room with a series of sensors that would be able to tell him when his laundry was done. Through his KICKBOX journey and some crowd wisdom from a small group of friends, the idea morphed from being used in a laundry room to monitoring and analyzing office space 24/7. If it wasn't for this crowd wisdom pivot, thingdust might never have become as successful as it is. Our blog post about thingdust delves into this success story more deeply.  


Crowdfunding is one of the most prominent forms of crowdsourcing today, given the number of crowdfunding platforms on the internet. The concept is simple: collect small amounts of capital from a large group of people to fund a specific project or cause. 

Q: What is an example of crowdsourcing with crowdfunding?

A: Kickstarter demonstrates the concept of crowdfunding beautifully. The platform allows independent creators to move their ideas through the innovation pipeline with funds collected from interested individuals. Recently, solo creator Sugary Carousel launched a simple Kickstarter campaign for three plush animals—a cat, a cow, and a bunny. The campaign goal was $1,000, but it quickly amassed over $100,000 after the prototype designs spread like wildfire through social media. If you take anything away from this success story, it's that you should never underestimate the power of cuteness—and crowdsourcing, obviously. But mostly cuteness.


What Is the Crowdsourcing Business Model?

The crowdsourcing business model is less like a structured plan and more like a moldable collection of strategies and techniques that can be applied to existing business models—like the lean transformation model. Crowdsourcing is likely already intertwined with your existing business structure, especially if you've implemented an innovation program. If not, think about how you can introduce the four concepts above to your current business processes. 

How Does the Crowdsourcing Business Model Influence Innovation?

Below, you’ll find a few of the most significant opportunities to leverage the crowdsourcing business model within your company: 

  • Academic-industry collaboration - Academic-industry collaborations strengthen your market research and the bond between your company and the community to which it belongs. You’ll gain access to scholarly resources and connect with up-and-coming leaders within your industry. 
  • Consumer involvement - Many companies bring consumers in to gather feedback when they’ve reached the later stages of their innovation pipeline. However, countless opportunities arise much earlier on. For example, a company that regularly posts blogs to share its expertise may consider utilizing the crowd voting technique to source customer-centric topics and direction. Not only will this guide the company blog, but it may uncover previously neglected avenues of market interest. 
  • Employee engagement initiative - Employee engagement is perhaps the most critical element of crowdsourcing for innovative companies to address. It’s also one of the most universally experienced open innovation challenges. For meaningful innovation to occur, a cultural shift that leaves employees feeling motivated and valuable is integral. Crowd creation and crowd voting can only be as great as the intentions of those involved.
  • Open-source platform technology - An open-source innovation platform is essential to the crowdsourcing business model because it makes business processes accessible and transparent. Crowdsourcing provides your company with unlimited data and resources. Accordingly, you’ll need a hub to organize, track, and share ideas as they move through the innovation process.

How to Implement Crowdsourcing Concepts in Your Innovation Program With rready

rready recognizes the value of using crowdsourcing as a tool for innovation. Our innovation toolkit, the KICKBOX, leverages the crowdsourcing business model in four steps:

  1. Fosters an innovation culture through employee engagement techniques like gamification and incentivization.  
  2. Supports leadership through methodology and coaching backed by 100+ innovation industry leaders. 
  3. Provides an open innovation platform to keep everyone connected and on track for success.
  4. Facilitates collaboration and crowdsourcing efforts through our community of KICKBOX users—AKA, the innovation ecosystem.


rready has been helping businesses of all sizes with their innovation programs for years. So, if you're ready to implement crowdsourcing business model techniques for prosperous innovation, Contact Us or click below to schedule a demo.
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