TriggerTrap Saga – ITL 06 Engineering photographic equipment isn’t easy, especially in mass quantities. This discussion with Haje Jan Kamps of TriggerTrap details the entire saga from inception to the end of a company that had many successes and failures along the way. We chat about everything that made the company successful, how photographic engineering […]

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00:00:00on this episode of inside the lens I have a revealing discussion with Haya comps The Man Behind triggertrap trigger job recently announced that it was shutting down so our conversation covers the entire Saga of Kickstarter successes and failures engineering challenges and what the future holds for users of triggertrap products it's a deep dive into technical photographic challenges which is what inside the lens is all about enjoy
00:00:37welcome to another great episode of inside the lens this is a little bit different than the previous episodes in night in this podcast for one important reason we are getting Inside the Mind of a person than not inside the technology and the science at it goes along with a lot of our photography this particular person I'm very excited to have here hi a comps who he's the that the brain behind triggertrap how you doing how you I'm pretty well how are you doing I'm doing very good and this is this kind of an interesting topic because I did to get a brief synopsis about why you're here I is triggertrap which was a wonderful product existed before a Kickstarter campaign that I supported and I've used for years has closed its doors and so it is very interesting to see a company start and have a lot of momentum and there's been some stumbling along the way and eventually it was just not profitable anymore but
00:01:37the adventure that you've gone on along the along the way I think it's going to be really interesting to a toy listeners specifically I don't want to say like failures mistakes because if you learn from it then it's not a failure and how everything got started so why don't we just go right back to the beginning and where did triggertrap the original idea come from yeah sure so I need for a time working in television and discovered and around the same time I was running a successful by child's reading books about photography I lost count I think I've done about 12 different things working on that was like a DIY Photography book
00:02:37can I build a camera completely from scratch and see if I can actually make it take photos which is of course a ridiculous idea because I'm not actually camera things I was building one of the things I was working on kind of created triggering mechanism and there's so many different things that you could we're so used to being back from an Electronics point of view which is closing a circuit so what I was thinking if there's lots of other ways of doing that for example and it takes a photo or you know there's a laser beam across the room and kind of appreciate
00:03:37so I started playing with an Arduino kit and I was building it electronic prototypes and stuff and built-in laser trigger really all and they build the sound trigger and then builds various time lapse devices and stuff some of the stuff I built eventually turned up and try to try products and some of it I still have never seen out there in the market and I'm like cool well maybe there is something here
00:04:14so I one point I think around the same time actually I discovered Kickstarter the original Pebble watch what's happening things happening and I wanted to do a Kickstarter project 11 2012 some sort so kind of started looking around my room my office and my original idea was to build a photography school I want to teach photography as many people as possible for free how can we do this can somebody I'm at the time Kickstarter was still kind of vetting project and they were like well if you want to build a photography School
00:05:14what's the number to Jack's giant bundle of tables on my desk which was my Arduino project code something very exciting like I'm so I started talking to a couple of electrical engineers to find out what it would take to bring this to Market
00:05:49and that's really how it all started I was just I want to do a Kickstarter project I happen to have it pile of cables in front of me and I kind of just bring it to together and that was to start so that the kickstarter project coming along and I got the original Kickstarter trigger traps within my hands of course tonight so people can't see it but this was this is a magical device I mean it was it was simple so all it is for people curious about this is it has a what amounts to a an audio jack on one side and an audio jack on the other that you then adapt to to various different bits and pieces so the audio jack on one end plugs into your phone and that's the control mechanism and then the other one which is a smaller Jack is been adapted to whatever camera trigger you happen to have a camera pouch report so I can see from the video if he did at your account on guy
00:06:49yeah I'm a Canon guy and so I had I had this year now even when I got it I'm thinking okay well what is the secret between the phone and the camera what is in this little black box that made it luncheon
00:07:04well I know that you opened it because in preparation for this operation for this actually did a search for your name in our customer support emails and stuff and I found a photo off I found one that you sent to us at some point and that's pretty funny we had a lot of problems already on the first 10,000 rebuilt or so only about half the way I act which is a testament to you know trying to do Chinese manufacturing when you don't really know what you doing it's incredibly difficult I now dual does Visine start startups and whenever somebody mentions Hardware I take a deep breath I got right do you know what you're getting yourself into because Hardware is insanely hot I'll have to get some more of that later because you need a magic what happens in the box is very very simple the phone outputs an audio signal so she trigger your phone you playing MP3 sound and it's using a Hypersonic sound so what that means is really really high pitch So in theory if you plug in a set of headphones you shouldn't be able to
00:08:04unless you're like 12 years olds into electricity so it basically takes out sideways. The phone is I putting on Thursday to switch so the that means that the actual phone side of things and cameras out of things are completely decoupled from each other which is important because some people plug this thing in two flushes which as you can imagine the flash sometimes dumps about 400 volts down a few porch which phones are not a big fan of the phone it expects the thing to be plugged in to be a headphones which doesn't really have any power in it if you throw 400 volts down through the cable that's not going to end well for your phone we tested it is actually we weren't able to blow up any phone so it seems that Apple does have some really good connections and I'm glad you tested it
00:09:04didn't want to get sued but then we also decided to be smart about it and then build a circuit that eliminated eliminated the possibility of blowing up people's phones get so if you think about the normal remote control that you sticking to the side of your camera is really just a switch so you you press the button actually makes the connection on the camera you let go of the button connection on the camera just basically the same thing except instead of pressing a button it takes a audio signal which then gets translated into a switch which triggers camera so it's it's very simple technology overall but even Simple Technology ssj2 even call it technology together in some way it is very very simple technology that you mentioned the one that I had that broke my wife and I were at were in Bulgaria and I was going to set up at. That's where she's originally from we go back every year or so and
00:10:04is it family and I thought you don't wouldn't it be fun to just do a time-lapse you know looking over the Black Sea and have a lot of fun in my trigger trapped in function of course if it's broken taking it apart is well it's already broken right so I have to figure out what the problem is and it was one of the two headphone jack the one that's built into the little box had become unseated from the circuit board and enterprising person with a bit of solder can fix that but that's not your client right you didn't bring a soldering iron with you and holiday was wrong with you know but there was a hardware store around around the corner and I could have fixed it but it was a simple point of failure and enter to go to the idea of manufacturing problems I mean you're trying to make these things as inexpensively as possible and have every one of them exactly identical to the next such that they all work properly and you said that you had some issues with that but before we get into that because I know that that will lead us into another part of the discussion
00:11:04about a follow-up product and we can maybe wrap that up together but the initial Kickstarter campaign people wanted this right I mean it was got like a huge success I did you expect it to be as popular as it was so I think the best way to answer that is that I own several times need to cancel the project I need to cancel it before I even know shit I initially had to go set of 10,000 and I spoke to a good friend of mine who is a very good editor of one of the big story blogs and also creates his own products and he said what the hell are you doing you're charging way too little and the limit is way too low and in retrospect he was completely correct
00:11:48completely derailed myself now so I'm talking about the people had in the kickstarter campaign and and I know you blew past your original funding goals and a lot of times when that happens it puts pressure a lot of unexpected pressure because then now you have to produce a product in higher volume than you've ever expected and everything just becomes an entirely new game it's not just something that could be mad or not mass-produced to produce on a small scale for that the people you got to wrap things up and you have to have the entire chain of support that the communication to the Chinese manufacturer making sure that everything is going fine there that shipment schedules at and getting engineering samples not sure if the how you went through this whole process to make sure that what you were getting was what you expected it would become a let's say you had a thousand orders. That's one thing and that's handle of a by one person
00:12:48what is 10000 orders you know that it does not scale on the same way about numbers right you go a thousand. Doesn't sound like a lot Apple sells millions of stuff but the way to think about it is I think about just a sheet of paper write put in your printer one of those is very simple device it's as if it is exactly as you expected the thickness you expect that kind of stuff
00:13:16if you take 3,000 of them and stack them in a big pile so the normal pics of printer paper you buy is 500 does it get to 3000 you need six of those you can barely list. And that is two pieces of paper you know that is really really simple people in the sand paper it's not that complicated well we ordered 3000 of the first version of airdrop that wasn't 3000 pieces of paper that was 3000 devices that had components from 8 different suppliers it had a hundred and eighty different components in it and you know not all of them turned out to be exactly two components we had ordered and you know what they go in packaging and the packaging has each individual piece of piece of each packaging has a part number you have the sleeve that goes inside that's a part number you have the new phone that protects it that's a part number
00:14:16you look at that Eagles what have I got myself into because it is so insanely complicated even if you take something really simple I can imagine you order a water bottle from a shop at the water bottle will have a dizzying number of part numbers because you know there's paint on it there is printing on it there is a the water bottle itself there's a package English to do this year older sister probably a living not at your desk and inside of it you know that there's so many things that you wouldn't otherwise consider absolutely incredible how much goes into just just manufacturing something simple and the first commercial tree trip wasn't something simple it was so into different products have box you held up those are triggertrap mobile solution which works for them at the other one that I'm talking about now which was the original Kickstarter project was a Arduino based high speed trigger show me see the mobile version
00:15:16response to us realizing how complicated. Where was on the best version you know it's still about 45 components I could by the time he have packaging and all that kind of stuff and that was a reason to be complicated products but you know it the other one is orders of magnitude bigger so at the time we were thinking hate
00:15:43we already get stuck mobile apps are pretty good at this kind of stuff would make an awful lot more sense to make an app that does all this smart stuff because it turns out of course building a Arduino based products a lot of the coating you do is it's really ridiculously low level PR taking a break in the recording here because he has a train going by him right now disrupting the idea but this is a great time to thank the sponsor of this episode outdoor photography Canada magazine we consume photography knowledge in many ways I mean you're listening to this podcast for example and outdoor photography Canada delivers excellent photographic tutorials Key reviews and meaningful dialogue with smoke cannabis top tographer I'm honored to write for them with my pushing limits column in each issue and I want you to check it out with a special offer for inside the lens listeners for anyone in Canada or the United States you can get 20% off a 1 year subscription by using the code itl on check out if you would wear this podcast in the car
00:16:43that we bring to the table the love of quarterly subscription to Elder photography Canada on your table as well just go to old pcmag.com and use the code itl on a one-year subscription we thank Ultra photography Canada magazine for supporting this podcast and making this episode possible so show some support to them and receive a fantastic publication in the process complexity and we just thought there must be an easier way of doing that we were looking at mobile apps
00:17:14Google apps are all so complicated but pushing updates as much easier so as long as we have controllable Hardware where the departure from this phone to our church I'm oh well don't go and the cable from the mobile. Go to the camera or control of all so we know that those are solid then we can actually do in Baltimore in software but also have much better quality control off of the process and it turned out that that was correct I mean that was a much more elegant way of washing these kind of problems now a few years down the line we discovered so weird now on our fourth version of the trigger time about Google so we've had lots of little upgrades through 30 years since you just didn't work we should have never told you that I was asking and then you know the second version of us much better functionality and you know didn't have the problems off getting these older than I kind of stuff I haven't used it in a while if I use the trigger
00:18:14what does still work at the heart of it nothing is changed the new versions are much faster by almost three times faster so what is happening with the one you were holding their which is the original one I have to build up enough power in a capacitor trash day trigger which took a lot of power and it actually took a measurable amount of time now when I say a long time I don't mean minutes I mean fractions of a second but in photography world of course for Real High Speed photography milliseconds if not microseconds to the point that you know in most sought-after free applications to camera shutter lag switch on Fast cameras is about 30 minutes seconds or so it seemed preceded will write when you press the button feels instantaneous would you measure it when we had a whole testing break that measured the shutter delays on loss of different cameras and it turns out that 30 minutes seconds is about as fast as cameras gets and it doesn't matter whether it has
00:19:14mirrors are weather is Merida's whatever it's about 30 seconds I've got an option in the in the menus that allows me to unstabilized that setting so that I can let it go as fast as it could possibly go which sometimes might be 20 seconds or more of that nature but it will it won't be a stable-value anymore because it all depends on what lenses attached would like what aperture you have set and then what have you write sogos has anybody know but depending on where you press the button that actually affects how long it takes so does the oldest version of triggertrap mobile would have about 40 50 minutes seconds worth of today which doubles essentially
00:20:14on the very most recent versions on our test we have it down to about 2 minutes seconds so that point is kind of it doesn't really matter how long we take your camera is slower than the than the Flash's which is what people are doing what you're shooting really high speed photography so what are you doing then is that you darken the room completely you open up the shutter exposure and then you're freezing motion by having a trash which is how people do I speak to about those two milliseconds are in eternity again so we started this whole new thing of of trying to get it down to microseconds and that's kind of War II Kickstarter project came in because we discovered okay we've done a lot of really interesting stuff with using a mobile phone to trigger Perez what happens when we start hitting the the edges of that wet when people wants more speed or much better battery life
00:21:14what people were using triggertrap for during all of this I mean the app had a lot of different options to it I know personally I used it as a device as a as an intervalometer a fairly simple use of it when I was shooting some time lapse footage for a BBC science documentary I just I mean I had an old phone so I just plugged the old phone into it and I left it outside in the freezing cold because the camera was recording Frost growing and if my phone happen to die in any particular way well then that was the cost of getting the shot and I got an A used it was wonderful but what are other interesting success stories that you remember I'm seeing people taking your design and your your brain child and and turn it into art
00:21:58so we actually discovered on that
00:22:02I mean I'm a halfway competent photographer but there was so many people out there who never in my life that I can stream specialist in better than anybody else in the world which is a weird thing but it happens to be one of those things where
00:22:31people who specialize and so when we put the product out there we actually got a lot of feedback from people who we could never have imagined for example we have a distance laps mode which is it uses GPS and then based on distance it takes photos I I could have magin before you continue even Lauren an aircraft and you are trying to take images for the Topography of whatever is underneath you know exactly how far you've gone from one image to the next would be a huge thing right it was a person from an agency I'm not allowed to tell you which one it is which is hilarious but they were basically we have a problem we're shooting very detailed
00:23:17Ariel to grounds mapping photos incredibly detailed weird basic is an AirSpeed because that's the only thing we have intercepted airspeed of the aircraft is incredibly accurate because if you have a slight headwind the plane will tell you that you're going much faster or if you have a slight Tailwind it tells you to go much lower and so in order to get a full coverage they were doing 60% overlaps saying you're flying quite high up you have a pretty good tenant lens they're making sure that they have six episode over. Which means that each individual bits of landscape is probably to photograph three times that is not a problem but the post-processing effect to turn into one giant photo took forever and they were saying well by using GPS if we could find a way of using GPS we could reduce overlap to 20% Which reduces are processing time by like 70% or whatever numbers I gave me
00:24:14we would like to see some slaps Modo stats we developed its with the idea being you can do a very interesting time lapse of driving through a city which is using normal timing issue if traffic slows down then the cops if you instead could use distance to trigger the camera ISO safe to take a photo every hundred meters or so then it looks like the entire Journey happens at a constant speed no matter how fast you're driving so imagine you driving through like a rid of an area and you're moving like a second then you still you can still get this feeling like you're basic is gliding through the Landscaping at the same speed all the way it turned out to be really cool the fact that nobody really used you know I've seen one or two Drive lapses and they all kind of look okay but it turns out taking pictures of traffic isn't that interesting and it kinda situations with this is very useful you're probably stuck in traffic anyway and so
00:25:14Nissan Juke
00:25:18four paragraphs I don't have that problem you know they were able to solve this problem very differently by plane and having a trigger trap running inside the line using distance I know you're absolutely right that's exactly what people were using it for other things is another niece turned out to be huge for us is astrophotography control over the shutter so I can get my telescope to track this one particular very faint so I won't 3 minutes and 20 seconds exposure exactly because that's the duration I can track this using my very fancy telescope and we were able to give them. And it turned out that it sounds like a really simple challenge but it is not necessary something that people are able to do that easily
00:26:18the app infrastructure in place and somebody comes to you with an idea it's okay well we already have the app let's add another button for a bulb ramping or whatever it happens to be the people are asking about and some of that requires a certain amount of technical set up when you're trying to get those that at the time lapses to work but the fact that those features can be there because somebody has an idea the app already exists and it works all the app is doing is triggering the camera and either leaving the shutter open for x amount of time or triggering a flash or whatever happens to be the actual fundamentals are very simple it's what people decide it is a useful feature not to be included
00:27:07but the cool thing about that was that we gave to use your full functionality you could change any setting you can change the shutter duration you can change the delays before and after you can change you can change the basically everything and it turned out it made it impossible to use because we've built when he built the product from me and I know how a camera works very well because I built press the menu sky so we actually went okay how would Steve Jobs Design This you know how many buttons can we take away from this and still make it useful and of course as soon as we lost version two bases will start the first Red version of people went crazy color is is that particular shade of red roses for the first version of trigger drop our what do you mean what
00:28:07I went to a lab and measured what color that wasn't your type color me the first person you just held up off the trigger shot on goal is completely black and you know that shows how little thought we put into a bat should look like of course now will Detroit rapper a discount if I contact for the brat you know when you see a red cable but I'm going to bust in the bus flies by somebody doing it I'm not sure I can do Quick Charge app that's really cool the iPod and headphones and everything that many years ago and nobody's been using red and so you made something I kind of got a bat and people have been using it all over the place for years and we've given a couple of use cases but you're also alluding to the fact that people are triggering flashes with a trigger trap photography and you mentioned that that becomes a much much more difficult process to go through and so your idea
00:29:07it said okay if if I can't do it exactly the way that I want to do with the current equipment and the current said that we have what would the solution b and end this led to your second Kickstarter campaign yeah so does a couple of really good product out there like the camera apps that let you reset your new robots with the camera eyes I've got one of those yeah yeah original triggertrap side of things in that gives you so much rope to hang yourself with that you need to do what you know what you're doing before that product makes sense and stay the same thing with the stack shot from cognisys which I have as well for some of that the equipment that I used the other day I was using it so it's fresh in my mind I have to go in and make a bunch of adjustments for the actual timing of the poll said it was sending to the camera to trigger it properly and those options are there and I'm glad that they are because I needed to adjust this but I'm thinking to myself yeah I'm a geek
00:30:07the camera geek and I know how to work all of this stuff but the average photographer is more concerned about their art than the technical stuff behind the scenes so that is a challenge of course you have to overcome yeah for sure I think that was kind of our idea I mean the camera access it is a genuinely amazing product have a lot of time for Maurice as I'm sure he would be the first to recognize it is not for every right it's for its for proper hardcore photography Cakes as we are both been but the inside I had from tree or type of side is just too complicated and I did it was in making a simple to use High Speed photography trigger week she opened this art up to lots more people and I are gamble as hey exploring photographer you get your first SLR camera and you maybe take some pictures of some flowers and maybe you get into micro for a while after that maybe you could enter portraiture and then you do some photography
00:31:07maybe you just some kind of go through his very predictable part of the types of Photography and photographer tries out before they find their their love or photography jobs but so everybody kind of fines there there the thing that they really enjoy doing and weaseled High Speed photography is never ready on that part we want to put it on that pot and in the process are thinking was hey if we make it easy enough solution that is Affordable and we can put that on the photographer's Journey then in theory open up 15 million sales
00:31:44in theory well and it's because he's done this before a lot of photographers are in the boat of they don't know what they don't know if that makes any sense because they dirt unaware that this is at their fingertips if they have this one little magic device to allow them to do this sort of stuff they don't even know what that stuff is in so they're not going to be seeking out your products specifically in that of course the kickstarter campaign has to overcome that by by driving things on mass through all of the photography blogging platforms and everything I've I've done crowdfunding campaign before and I know that that's a full-time job when that's going in order to get the other feedback that you're after and and you did meet your goals for that they could of course always be better but you had enough to bring this thing into engineering and its production so what happened then
00:32:38yeah so our goal for this one was I think 50,000 pounds which was at the time about $75,000 at US Dollars and we raised 290000 pounds which is almost half million dollars which should be more than enough to bring this into production you know we done a lot of research and it already before we even got to that point we had some very nice finished 3D printed samples of what these would look like we had downloaded Photography in the lab to make it work and all that kind of stuff
00:33:18yeah I worked at work but the last piece of the puzzle that we wanted to so was to make it user-friendly because we take it easy to use I have to be cheap so we were aiming for a price point ultimately of $99 so we can actually make this happen I'm to do this we actually want to do the trade on one of our pets of Secret Sauce you mentioned that information is very important and I completely agree with that but that is something that trigger job has been doing since day one right with how to interview prep University right from the beginning you have in-depth video tutorials for how to use the products how to do interesting weekend projects or longer projects with the idea of dating
00:34:11that people who have used for your trip to create something amazing say for example you've done a time-lapse off snow crystals growing then you could also see if somebody comes to you and I'll say how did you do that that's amazing you can either spend the next hour of your life explaining it to them or you can link them to the tutorial we've done that doesn't think similar strategy videos had a lot of play time I want some different channels and as a result of lots of people got exposure to it that's what we figured is that if we start doing education photographers in what High Speed photography is then we will at the same time sell these products because we think in a review we may not stand up to a camera X
00:34:53in terms of features and not even in terms of speed but in terms of ease-of-use we will still win in a source of price points will definitely win and that was kind of a gamble that we could find a way of making making that work and it went away within that gamble I just wanted well in that for a second because knowledge is power when it comes to creating a great image and I've been one to give away all of my secrets for every image that I take and tell people exactly how I do it and in some of the times I get it's ridiculously complicated and difficult the process that I might go through but it can be described as easily enough so that people can take a look at that and say okay well that gives me some ideas it's not going to be the same thing and that you have somebody did create the same thing as I did well I'm on to something else now at that point you know I'm more than happy to share and so once you spark that idea in people and idea that is their own that is inspired from your tutorials that that's really where things start to get interesting and people will say okay well now
00:35:53I got my own idea I need to make that happen and if it cost me $99 to do it well then that's a small price to pay for sure for sure and I think there is something really powerful there and I think it's incredibly exciting when you were able to inspire people to do new stuff if we are going to make this happen I trade in my species of Creighton good photography education and we leverage my team's expertise in building great products how big is your team at that time okay we can we can do this the problem is of course I shouldn't get to that check today we started this early working title for it was traded to break that would be like a Lego brick
00:36:53what's behind the product interesting products are very good streaming high speed trigger I think we were down to
00:37:1580 microseconds for triggering which is incredibly fast I mean for for rehire but it's enough for what we want but I know that price point there's no competition on the concrete was just text and it was ugly as hell but for testing we had proved was that we were able to build a product at a price points that was sensible that can do super high speed photography and it also ultimate some of this process so it would open the camera shutter sound for example or something that flies through a laser beam closest to shutter and then you know is ready for the next shot basically it sounds wonderful where can I buy this well almost 2,000 people backing up campaign
00:38:15who did some very creative marketing and most people ended up backing at the highest level so we basically didn't do anything we didn't do any backer levels that weren't simple so you choose what you want and then we started giving people in sent it's actually upgrade their orders to have more functionality so the basic version I think it was just the base box that we sent for I think $35 but you can't really do much with that other than time-lapses Technologies we had like a passive infrared sensor for doing trail cams we had a laser sensor for doing High Speed photography and a very high speed sound sensor
00:39:01I wish we could combine several things we have to laser sensors which means that with two days of sensors if you mentioned him into sex
00:39:09is both of those triggers are broken they actually have position something in three-dimensional space so you can focus on that point you can put it out in a basket and whatever photos get treated you know that the Box will be in Focus exactly what you expected and that will let because you set up your flashers correctly there's no other way of doing that that we were aware of calling it fast mode and it was just a really interesting use case for how we could show something new on the very same day that we aren't Kickstarter campaign we got a very angry lawyer's letter about the name of the product we originally called it a piece of paper that says I can never say that name again anyway we change the name of the product
00:40:06which was staying. To Ada Lovelace and my co-founder stress kid
00:40:14but yeah so it ain't went pretty well actually with the campaign raised money and we're super excited about actually getting into manufacturing with this I pretty much as soon as I can paint finished
00:40:30now I have to think about a chronology did we know by the end or not anyway are Electronics manufacturer or design company and said hey so we have a problem all the stuff you want to do with the user interface we come to Basin the processors we are using here cuz we wanted to still be arduino-compatible
00:40:54that's your prototypes were functional at that point but it was only a text interface that they were using right so then yes when you started to put some of these pieces together it's like they didn't fit it works and it was really good the problem is it was really good in a way that we didn't think users would be able to use because it was really fun to use because we designed it to use it you know how it works right it's it's like if you borrow your friend's car. I can put it this way it's like when you borrow your friend's car and they say yeah the car works perfectly fine but if you want to feel feel we have to push this panel and kick over there and then the fuel cap jumps out and then you can fill a few or something like that or just little bits and pieces that are completely undocumented did the knowledge of how it all works isn't completely in your head and it makes perfect sense to you but got nobody else in the world
00:41:54here you go with this car is so broken it's ridiculous and terms of this in terms of the church or pay. For example we had a we had a bug which meant that whenever you disconnected the sensors and plug it back in again it restarted it and we couldn't find out for the longest time why does thing would reboot every single time we disconnected and reconnected something so from a user point of view to take photos that works perfectly fine but that is not a good user experience I saw there was a couple of little things like that that fix the impact of the use of it but it made stuff a little bit less user-friendly little things took forever to to figure out so to get to the full user interface we needed memory a processor with more memory in it to do that we have to rewrite part of Dakota to do that we had to rewire to fix the problem with the restarting thing
00:42:54change other stuff and if you think about it that at that time we had half of me $10 in the bank account so when they got back to us we have to do the test to find out whether we should use prices for a beer she is going to cost $2,000 another $2,000 doesn't really matter of course
00:43:15you can only do that so many times before you sign made out of my eyes were talking about the simplest triggertrap devices like the mobile dongle that you would create in the past they had what 40-something components in it now as soon as you add one component it becomes exponentially more complicated! That this product was not just a 50 or 60 or a hundred part device I mean this is this is a mini computer that you would see from any major manufacturer like Samsung or or LG and and what do you do then at that point when your resources are far less your foundation of support your staff your knowledge the people that are constantly running around solving all these problems well that's you and you've never seen these problems before
00:44:04we didn't know what to do it was an extremely stressful time I mean I didn't sleep for several months because we just didn't know how to cut a way through this device from my professional consumer electronics designers and how much have you budgeted to develop this look for one of the guys sweetie we spoke to used to work at Tom Thumb the guys who make the stuff he wouldn't even stop looking at something unless we haven't made it in the house of the Budget Rental Car budget including for manufacturing so we were just operating in a completely different space at that point because we wanted to create a product that was good enough that I felt like a real
00:44:55a real product right to pick up that has way to it the buttons feel nice you know it it has it feels like a quality product you pick up a very cheap Chinese mayflash you know that you're holding something different even though it might look exactly the same the moving isn't quite the same the buttons on quite the same battery life sucks and all that kind of stuff so we had some some demonstrable design company that included you know it has to be so and so fast it has to be easy to use the battery life has to be at least 9 months off of 4 time-lapse mode that kind of stuff and when we finally got it back from the battery life was Bissell I can't remember off the top of my head how much it was and how big was like a hundred of that and we were like
00:45:41I don't know so far off the Mark at this point, so I can tell you what I told them but I was just put like a very long bleep and we'll just pretend that place you went off let's save your poor listeners from that entice pretend you just heard a very very long sleep and that was me talking to my suppliers but it turns out the basically they weren't as experience in building these kind of products as we thought so it turns out that they are very good at building one of something but that is not the same as building 10000 of something and that was a program to run into again and again and again and again
00:46:23eventually I went and saw that guy guys I'm here to pick up the final prototypes and then we meant to talk to you about something it turns out they were nowhere near where we were meant to be and then I said okay well let's talk about the bill of materials then because I need to start walking to the manufacturers in China to find out how much this is going to be so they gave me the list of all the individual components that needs to go into this now
00:46:48if you imagine you want a 3 x markup on a production you want to sell it for $99 that means that the bill of materials can be a maximum and absolute maximum of $30 and then of course you know at the end of the day that the difference in that that's not going in your pocket you know that chances are most of that is going in to recoup the cost of of the engineering in the development and you had the money for that but that's it only last so long especially when you got a whole staff and design teams both and I'm not sure where at your designers were both and wherever they were in in China at this point how much money did you have left so
00:47:29at the end of that process we discovered that the actual bill of materials cost was three or four times higher than we expected so now using the numbers I just use as an example we were like told that the bill of materials would be $100 not 30 which means that the cost of the product to the end consumer is $300 not tonight and I know I'm at that point after I face pounding so hard I gave myself a concussion I kind of went whatever done because I don't think this product will sell at $300 but she is good but it's still a niche product and for $300 you can go buy a very nice camera X so I was like we have really really screwed the pooch hair because there is something that just doesn't the reason to space for this product at this price in this market
00:48:22so we started looking around and figuring out where there was anything we could do to cool back the cost at this point we actually never had a fully functional with the final you I know we finally got that final version through and stop man's cool we have the final version of the software we have the final bill of materials that see if we can make this happen and it turned out that we didn't even have enough money left to do a production run
00:48:48so we went and talked to a couple of investors to see hey guys we have this but of course they did their own analysis and we will not make as much money what are you guys thinking this may be at 1:49 this would have worked at 250 or 300 we don't think there is a space in the market for this which you know is it's kind of a weird one because there will be people who are willing to pay $300 for this and other people willing to pay $500 for the number of people that are willing to Shell out that amount of money is not sustainable for a company and and so then at that point it's the writing is on the wall and you have to say to yourself well we can't deliver but we've already spent everybody's money left I think about
00:49:48then we had a choice you can either trying to deliver this whatever to cost and it was extremely like it extremely likely that company would go bankrupt at that point and if we only had one product right if we only had a single product in our line which was that one place I would have done that I would have been like okay you know what let's go For Broke let's let's try everything we can if we go bankrupt in the process then so be it that's okay but at the time we had hundreds of thousands of users for a mobile products and facing a situation where if we run our self trying to deliver this one for the 2,000 people who ordered and instead we fail to deliver that but we also failed a hundred thousand people out there are already using that would be
00:50:46so I did everything I could to try and avoid that but in the end
00:50:51do you need sensible thing we could do was it cancelled the project which we did waiters many I'm sure it did after many as you no doubt about that
00:51:04Indians I think people understood and this is where kind of if you talk to the people who got angry about this they will have one story and I will have another my point of view is not Peach doctor is that for people to do to take a big risk to take a picture of them so I just try something right you punt the ball as hard as you can and hopefully it works out many times it does work out sometimes it doesn't it doesn't work out then started back her to try and make that dream come alive and if that didn't work then that didn't work that's okay
00:51:39underwear few people were very angry with us who said well you have to give us a full refund for us so I didn't tell them that but in my mind as I could we are using Kickstarter on we fell and we have to give everybody's money back there is no reason to do a Kickstarter at that point it's much better to go take a bank loan do all the developments in secret and then launch a product and then get the benefits or not if it fails I don't get any benefits of people don't realize that I mean Kickstarter is not a pre-order for an item that will exist and you have buyer protections and everything along the way you have to trust that everything will go according to plan once you give them their money because they've got a plan and you got the plan and if that plan does not know that come together the way that you hope well then I don't plan has to be formed and sometimes the whole thing needs to be torn up and
00:52:39walk away from it so long I think that so long as people realize the entire story and understand that they supported it you got to a point as far along as you possibly could put in your Blood Sweat and Tears into that project and then realize that it just couldn't be as opposed to say okay well I'm just going to go take us out and we in dollars and buy some very expensive scotch and cigar and see in the Bahamas I understand where people can can see okay this is this is a project that failed but it's not one that failed without an insurmountable amount of effort from you and your engineers and everybody else inside I'm glad that we were able to talk to at least that part of the story so difficult to talk about no because I don't want to share but because
00:53:31I need the mindspace I was in back then it was was I was not in a good price because we've let so many people down right and what I realize I was necessary all of my stuff realize is that is a very real chance at this will be the end of the company here now having this conversation because it turns out it was the end of the company so between the end of this sort of Kickstarter Saga that you realized okay this product not going to happen to an announcement that you had made a week or so ago that trigger trap is no more that that time frame looks looks kind of till the end of the story here and figure out where things went after the failed Kickstarter for the trigger trap Aida and what the company did about it and Y at the end you just basically have to say okay you know what let's just lock the doors on this one so at the end of it we did
00:54:31took all the expenses we had them put them in a giant pile and saw that we had about 20% left of the money left in the account we didn't have 20% of the money left because we still have another week we hired some engineers and I kind of stuff that were partially used for other projects and so we were like well what are we going to do so we decided to still pay to pay back all the money that we could shown we hadn't spent on manufacturing triggertrap Ada which meant that we actually ended up paying out more money out of our bank account then
00:55:08we had is that make sense yeah so I personally put some money in my wife put some money and wait a couple of other people's on my friends and my family had about 10 people this is not looking good I think I think this is the end of the show that was invested into the company at that point I got saved it most of that money without again at a time because it does matter you know from that party to you it doesn't matter where the money comes from some of the money back
00:55:50that was a really really difficult time and I was worried about my stuff I was worried about the company I was worried about what this would do to my friends and family because I'm taking their money you know it was just really really hot when we did that cancellation we had about 14 stops left so we have to we have some marketing stuff we have had management staff to put us off we had some operational side. And you know that was that was that was everybody
00:56:32accelerated program program went through the budget very very carefully with with them like a redundancy switch was incredibly hot I don't know if you use that word in the US
00:56:58in retrospect we waited too long we tried for too long to say their jobs before I let them go which put his extreme Peril times where I stopped taking away and I haven't seen a single penny from from the company sends a full-time because I was like look I will not take a single dollar until myself is all paid and then so just kind of see the light at the end of the tunnel and I completely understand where you're coming from from that perspective because if you are if you're taking money that money is that money doesn't exist for the company to give you and you are trying so hard to keep this company afloat that that that puts me between a rock and a hard place because you still need a roof over your head as well so we waited too long to say Speedway eventually did and then realized
00:57:50that was too little too late
00:58:01does the death sentence for a company because if you're not doing already developing your products then eventually your style and sales will start going down so we decided to do we have two choices either keep the marketing team and let the engineers go or Let It Go
00:58:22and we ended up choosing to keep the marketing team for the reason that increase marketing and helping to kind of tool to our customers good customer support will help more. And that's the fastest way for us to try and get back I start making some money
00:58:43that was the right choice if we hadn't if we kept the engineers but let the marketing team go we would have gone bankrupt a long time ago but of course that means that you are now in its trajectory sending a product that is no longer you have to kind of pull yourself out of this sort of black hole of being stale trying to sell this product to make enough money to afford the wages of everybody in the company put more money in in the bank to that eventually get a engineering team again and that's I mean that's wishful thinking and it might have happened but it's it's really impossible as you've seen at least in the scenario to at the have that play out in your favor and get ourselves back on our feet start investing in R&D again and there's no shortage of ideas we have 10 or 15 products that were a very stages of R&D in various stages of prototyping and research
00:59:43that we could have totally brought to Market and that would have been pretty good Setters pretty badly but it's Kickstarter projects on knowing all the risks Menthol and every budget we added an extra 50% off of contingency assembly the probably just doesn't make sense anymore that's okay we can take a risk and try to rush this thing
01:00:03we can just play it safe and see if we have more money later on so little by little I had to let my people go up to company
01:00:26I mean well that's just kind of unfortunately when we finally announced this right we had hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of emails loyal customers who we haven't heard about heard from for a while so exciting I mean the porch was the few people who were very eager to Johnson are great as well must be Kickstarter backers but you know I think the majority of people were super excited Super eager to tell us
01:01:26just let people have have the continued support from a simple guy but no matter how you look at the spreadsheet and I did eventually managed to pay off all my friends to know little by little my friends my wife and I ever going to get this money is kind of it's not a question of a Spanish question of when it eventually dies and eventually
01:02:11just doesn't feel like a company that makes sense anymore not on paper Pendleton reality we looked at this is many possible ways we could but eventually just decided this just isn't happening and that's the end I guess we put that way we would put the final words to it now that that is not to say that it's the end of all the products of people already own I mean my original triggertrap mobile will still work with the app on my phone and I can go and make magic with that anybody with a current product that it's not like all of a sudden it no longer functions of course if iOS or Android does some software update that then breaks the app then we're kind of up the creek without the paddle but for the time being at the very least we still have something of the trigger trap Legacy that we can enjoy that we can look back and say you know you guys did you did good and I want to thank you for having this conversation
01:03:10but at the same time where do you go from here I mean triggertrap has been your life for for quite a while I know you do other things it does it just completely disappear is it like you've got an idea that maybe some larger company is going to buy the design in the brand and roll that into some other project is there anything outside of what you're doing with the company that will breathe some potential life
01:03:35so this is our conversation with hearts on going right we're talking to a couple of people who might be interested in buying a brand were talking to one or two companies who are interested in buying the production is continuing operations as normal
01:03:49and I don't know if you understand sir Didi conversations of course. Very hot sand and cool down a little bit
01:04:00I don't have very high hopes after jump into doing what you do say though is it's true I mean the actual continue working I will find a way of keeping them on the App Store and if there is an iOS update the Brixton you know that doesn't necessarily mean the end either it is possible that I go and talk to a friend of mine who is a developer who knows I can fix it fix it for 500 bucks I might just reached into my pocket and pay the 500 bucks if they say hey I can fix this for $5,000 I make any more money off this I still feel a message loyalty to to the customers on a little the friends I've made in the process right and the number one thing that's kept us going for this long as they fit her group members amazing photography that's turned up in that group it's just a stomach and thousands of photos that are way better than anything I've ever taken but then I still have a tiny little steak and being apart of
01:05:00Printing and I think that is incredibly humbling and it's it's been it's been such a fantastic journey and it's just
01:05:10I'm very very sad right now this is coming to an end I mean about it you should be right and it shows how much that a lot of people don't see that when they see a press release you know it did just that the person doesn't come through and then to have the story I think that is wonderful for all of us but what what's next for you
01:05:33so I mean I've just been a couple of things has happened with some personal issues my mother-in-law had a stroke a few years ago and we've been flying from the hatchet I'm flying out to the US a lot to help look after her to make sure she's okay and we discovered that she actually needs more regular care so we end up moving to California to help her daughter that was the time when I really have it over control of triggertrap to Matt's fully time difference icons icons be fully and from here I'm going to leave it to you to run this and to make it shine
01:06:15I need a fantastic job with the tools he was given them with the restraint she was given the promise you know those restraints are pretty massive so meanwhile I've been in love with a couple of other companies I was temporary CEO for a marketing company digital signage I'm just started a new company myself that is trying to do some very interesting things in the space of encouraging people to talk about this with their families does a completely different completely different company complete outside for the graphic space so I won't be for sure you write this while you wait for TechCrunch if I'm if I'm not mistaken I've done a few more books so I'm writing for TechCrunch Reese's big startup website out there that's that's doing a lot of stuff about how to run a start at that kind of stuff there's a pretty good chance that I'm going to write up the the rise and fall of triggertrap at some point I'm not sure if that's going to be on TechCrunch sure if I put it
01:07:15a medium-sized or something but it's something I'm quite passionate about kind of keeping even though this flamed out I want to help Hardware startups to the Future and I think we put on some very important lessons some of the ridiculously obvious and some of them may be a little bit more simple if you knew what what you've learned through this entire process and save other people from making mistakes that that destroy their dreams for sure and everything that you've done through it as you say it find out but it doesn't mean that it can't help other people still yeah I mean I do a fair bit of mentoring and stuff and this is a load of all the stuff I've learned from from going through a couple accelerators and being part of trailer trash panda on the challenges we found but also other Solutions we found I mean this company could have failed 5 or 6 times before this out of Dodge
01:08:15so many bullets 30 years and I'm proud of that you know it's not something we've spoken about fully because you know it's not always being relevant to people but we've done a hail storm and I'm proud of that you know that the defect of the company's been running for this long as it's a testament to how persistent in the team is being how patient are customers have been ready and I look like some pretty sure people will make with triggertrap tomorrow and the day after I mean never Legacy continue to live on so I got that thank you so much for for being here on this side this episode of inside the lens I thank you so much for having me will they might have questions for you they might just want to send you a note them in some way shape or form so where can people find you email still works it's h t r i g g so yeah I welcome any comments and cheering me on
01:09:15elsewhere whatever they're also take Glee
01:09:19perfect, thank you so much and it will be in touch again you know if I get feedback I'll forward it on to you and and I wish you all the best in your future endeavors and let's make the world a better place for people like us inventors and entrepreneurs moving forward unexpected turns and I'm glad the discussion was as open as it was I'll personally continue to be a fan of trigger dropped it was great to see of you inside the challenges that the tography upstarts face thanks for listening to this episode of inside the lens

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