Kickstarter has now become one of the most popular ways to fund new projects, from gadgets to video games to art and music. One of the most recent beneficiaries of Kickstarter’s crowdfunding model is Kevin Harrington and the rest of the team behind the TriggerHappy camera remote. TriggerHappy gives users a less expensive option for controlling their digital SLR camera remotely, with the use of their iPhone or Android smartphone app. With 27 days left in their Kickstarter campaign (at the time of this writing), the TriggerHappy team has already blown past their $25,000 funding goal, having raked in a staggering $125,000, so far. We got in touch with Harrington to find out more about TriggerHappy, the Kickstarter experience, and the team’s plans for the future.
DT: How did you and your team come up with the idea for the TriggerHappy camera remote, and what made you decide to move forward with the project?
KEVIN: As a photographer, I’ve dabbled over the idea for years, ever since the birth of the smartphones. I wanted a simple camera remote and an intervalometer that was cost effective — a camera remote that worked.
Being a photographer and a software engineer, the idea kept sparking my interest over the years. Finally in 2011, when I met Luke and Brett, we started the project. Brett is an electrical engineer and Luke is a mechanical engineer. Their skills have been tremendously helpful throughout development. I couldn’t make the hardware without them. Once we met, our combined knowledge is what made us go forward with the project.
How does the TriggerHappy remote compare to other products on the market?
Traditional camera remotes have hard-to-use user interfaces, and limited capabilities due to the nature of the hardware. We leveraged iOS and Android to expand the capabilities of a camera remote. We’ve improved the way one controls his camera to take an simple shot, HDR image, and a time lapse. We’ve also introduced lightning detection, audio waveform detection, face detection, and motion detection.
What made you decide to launch the TriggerHappy remote as a Kickstarter project?
Kickstarter is a great place to bootstrap a business. That’s what we wanted. We don’t see TriggerHappy as a project, but instead we see it as a business with an ever-improving product. Starting a business requires capital. Kickstarter is a great place to raise that capital without giving away company equity to investors. Crowdfunding is how we wanted to raise capital, and Kickstarter is the premium crowdfunding service.
What challenges have you found with the Kickstarter funding model?
We haven’t had any major problems with the Kickstarter funding model, but I’ll point out one little issues. With a long funding length like ours (60 days), we can’t receive any of the pledge money until the end our funding deadline. The money we’ve raised is “cyber cash,” until our funding deadline, and it is not useful business-wise. We have to be creative for 60 days, and find ways to fund TriggerHappy until we get to our funding deadline.
What are the advantages that Kickstarter brings to your project?
There are so many. I’ll list two.
First, Kickstarter drives a lot of traffic to our project on Kickstarter. 35-percent of the money raised so far comes from Kickstarter community traffic.
Second, Kickstarter takes 5-percent of our funds. That’s nothing compared to investors! Say we go to an investor and get $200,000 for their 10-percent stake in our company. If we were to sell for $20 million, they’d get $2 million assuming no other investment rounds. If we look at it like Kickstarter does, they’re taking 1000-percent of what they gave. See the difference?
With Kickstarter we can bootstrap our company, and we don’t have investors pushing us to sell.
How has the Kickstarter community responded to the TriggerHappy remote? Did you receive any comments, questions, or concerns that you didn’t expect?
We’ve been overwhelmed with such a positive response. We didn’t expect such amazing support from our backers! They’ve advised us and helped spread the word.
In addition to Kickstarter are you using any other funding avenues to bring the TriggerHappy remote to market? If so, what are they, and what do they deliver that Kickstarter does not? If not, why?
We aren’t currently using any other funding avenues. Since our project launched on Kickstarter, it’s been very successful. Kickstarter is our focus.
At the moment, your project is at about 500-percent of the funding goal, with nearly a month left to go. To what do you attribute this success? How has the massive influx of funds changed your goals? And what do you plan to do with the additional funding you will receive?
I attribute our success to a well thought-out product. We are photographers; we are our customers. We know what photographers want, and we are giving them that. That’s what I attribute our success to.
Our goals have not changed. We want to give customers a product they will think is amazing. That was our goal from before we launched our Kickstarter. The response of our customers is our gauge for success. We do not gauge our success on a monetary amount.
Five hundred percent may sound like a lot, but it’s not. It’s enough to start our business. All of our additional funding will go towards the development of the TriggerHappy camera remote.
Aside from achieving your funding goal, what are your ultimate goals for TriggerHappy — what would make the project a true success, in your mind?
A true success would be to establish a scalable business model. Kickstarter is simply the start. We have a lot of work, but we are confident we’ll get there.
Based on your experience with Kickstarter, what advice can you give someone hoping to launch a technology-related product through the service? What ways can people help to ensure success?
Know your customer. Have a target market. Talk to individuals within that market. Find out what they want, and prove to them that you can deliver what they want.
If you’re interested in helping to fund TriggerHappy (or just want to buy one), visit the project’s Kickstarter page, here.