Tapping Global Brainpower to Design Better Appliances

Following the creation of GE’s FirstBuild initiative, GE wanted to construct an online community of engineers, designers and innovators and establish a market of consumers for the inaugural line of new product introductions.


We identified the Maker movement as a key target to connect with trend-makers, designers and non-traditional consumers pushing the boundaries of innovation. Makers are an extremely active subculture who focus on the innovative applications of technologies. Gaining traction among this group of nearly 100 million people was critical to a successful launch.


Through crowdsourcing, co-creation, and competition among a community of Makers, we launched the FirstBuild online community to create excitement for the mission: transforming the way GE appliances are conceived, produced and sold.

The new University of Louisville microfactory served as the site of product competitions and this first-of-its-kind, state-of-the-art facility drew attention to the new era of product innovation. We introduced key media, ranging from The New York Times, Popular Science, and Make Magazine, and gave them first looks at new products.


FirstBuild’s online community grew from nothing to 7,500 global Facebook members, and Facebook fans increased to over 15,000. FirstBuild earned $3 million in sales for crowdsourced top sellers. There were nearly 300 million media impressions achieved, and FirstBuild’s second year promises to keep building momentum.

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