GE Appliances has launched a startup, called Giddy, to help business bring better-designed products to market quickly, building upon lessons the company learned from its co-creation subsidiary FirstBuild.

The eight-person Giddy team, the members of which remain employed with GE Appliances, is based in a University of Louisville office two blocks north of FirstBuild. The new unit functions like a startup that aims to help businesses introduce products faster and with innovative designs that they would not have generated by themselves.

Giddy CEO Taylor Dawson said that from the early days of FirstBuild, GE Appliances learned that if it runs design challenges through the co-creation community, it can design better products and get them to market faster.

Taylor Dawson

A prime example, he said: the Opal nugget ice maker. Within three weeks, the company received more than 30 entries to the challenge, and many included innovative ideas that employees had not previously discussed.

FirstBuild triggered a realization within GE Appliances that good product ideas do not just come from within the company, he said. The company also learned that the quality of designs increase if it seeks input from people who really care about the product it is trying to build.

The approach became a “no-brainer,” Dawson told Insider.

Giddy is an online collaboration space that connects clients and designers through a mobile app. A web app is being developed.

The Giddy app. | Courtesy of GE Appliances

Designers in the community get paid for their designs — and they get experience and recognition. Dawson said an out-of-work designer who submitted the winning proposal for a cold brew coffee maker at FirstBuild got a job partially on the strength of his entry. It’s a good way for fledgling designers to build their portfolio, he said.

Giddy will charge companies a fee to get access to the co-creation community. Dawson declined to provide details. The business clients will own the designs. GEA’s Chinese owner, Qingdao Haier, wants the unit to generate a profit.

Gidd will help businesses of all sizes, but FirstBuild and Giddy, which has operated in beta for a about a year, have attracted interest primarily from large, well-known consumer and commercial product companies that are likely to comprise the bulk of the startup’s initial client base.

The Giddy community, thousands of people across the globe, though mostly in the U.S., eventually will merge with the FirstBuild community, he said.

GEA Chief Commercial Officer Rick Hasselbeck said in a news release that “Giddy is a totally unique enterprise for GE Appliances. We are clearly stepping outside our traditional business model by selling ‘how’ products can be made versus ‘what’ we make.”

And if a competitor approached Giddy for help?

“That would be the ultimate compliment,” Dawson said with a laugh.

Boris Ladwig is a reporter with more than 20 years of experience and has won awards from multiple journalism organizations in Indiana and Kentucky for feature series, news, First Amendment/community affairs, nondeadline news, criminal justice, business and investigative reporting. As part of The (Columbus, Indiana) Republic’s staff, he also won the Kent Cooper award, the top honor given by the Associated Press Managing Editors for the best overall news writing in the state. A graduate of Indiana State University, he is a soccer aficionado (Borussia Dortmund and 1. FC Köln), singer and travel enthusiast who has visited countries on five continents. He speaks fluent German, rudimentary French and bits of Spanish, Italian, Khmer and Mandarin.


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