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Open Innovation with Customers: Crowdsourcing and Co-Creation at Threadless

Frank T. Piller

RWTH Aachen University

October 5, 2010

Threadless’ product is rather simple: A graphic t-shirt. But the company has become one of textbook examples and pioneers of customer co-creation – open innovation with customers. The Chicago-based start-up, founded in 2001, created a unique infrastructure for deep involvement of customers and external experts in the new product development process. It has become the role-model for many entrepreneurs in the field. This paper describes how Threadless “crowdsourcing” approach works and what the factors of its success are. The paper also comments briefly on idea to transfer the Threadless model onto other industries.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 10

Keywords: Open Innovation, Threadless, Crowdsourcing, Oo-creation, Mass Customization, Innovation

JEL Classification: M13, M31

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Date posted: October 7, 2010  

Suggested Citation

Piller, Frank T., Open Innovation with Customers: Crowdsourcing and Co-Creation at Threadless (October 5, 2010). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1688018 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1688018

Contact Information

Frank T. Piller (Contact Author)
RWTH Aachen University ( email )
AACHEN, D-52056
HOME PAGE: http://www.tim.rwth-aachen.de/piller/
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