Online Lab For Brands To Co-Create With Customers

Online Lab For Brands To Co-Create With Customers

PSFK spoke about the Future Of Gaming with the co-founder of Napkin Labs, an online lab space for brands to turn engage customers into valuable research and design resources.

Timothy Ryan, PSFK Labs
  • 2 november 2011

The PSFK consulting team has noticed that collaborative, online platforms aimed at solving problems are incorporating gaming mechanics and challenges as a way to encourage people to participate and continue contributing over time.

One company operating in this space is Napkin Labs–a company that offers a customizable, dedicated online lab space where brands can turn engaged customers into valuable research and design resources. To begin, the platform taps into the fans and followers brands have earned across social media, enabling brands to engage customers with activities and tasks which incorporate game mechanics. Every project is run as a contest, with contributors to each brand’s lab rewarded ‘influence’ points for each suggestion. Contributions are then ranked on a leader board of players,  and rewarded with incentives that range from money to merchandise. PSFK spoke to the co-founder and CEO of Napkin Labs, Riley Gibson.

Please provide a brief introduction about yourself and your company.

My name is Riley Gibson and I am the co-founder and CEO of Napkin Labs, a Boulder based technology company that is creating tools to bridge the gap between brands and their customers.  Napkin Labs’ technology provides a simple platform for companies to create online co-creation communities to run collaborative challenges with influential customers.

Please tell us about Napkin Labs. What is the idea and goal behind the platform?

Napkin Labs is about connecting brands with their customers.  Customers are the greatest untapped resource for creative inspiration and ideas for brands and Napkin Labs is giving companies the tools to unlock that creative force.  In many ways, we are turning work into a game and allowing people to share their ideas and earn status and rewards in the process from the brands they love.


What has been the audience reaction? Can you share any stats around user engagement?

Our time on site per visit rivals that of online games – yet people are sharing ideas and insights with brands and actually being productive.

We have been noticing that collaborative, online platforms aimed at solving problems are incorporating gaming mechanics and challenges as a way to encourage people to participate and continue contributing over time, what are your thoughts on this? Do you see this trend manifesting on a larger scale? 

Mass collaboration is one of the most profound trends of our time.  There is an unprecedented amount of knowledge that exists and collaboration on a mass scale helps all of us connect the dots and work alongside a diverse network of people to solve problems and to create new things.  Game mechanics provide a framework through which to incentivize and motivate individuals to work together.  By making work a game, we are putting a massive untapped market for ideas and solutions to work on many of the worlds toughest challenges. One of the coolest examples I can think of is –the first game to solve a longstanding scientific problem that will help with AIDS research.

What other trends within or around gaming have you noticed?

One of the trends I am seeing is that gaming is going beyond superficial points and badges, and actually becoming a way to build a reputation and even a career online.  It is being integrated into the fabric of work and play.

Thanks Riley!

Napkin Labs


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