The team at Photogram AI worked closely with Arrow and Indiegogo to acquire parts, get technical support, and build a community. Their campaign for the Alice Camera was a smash success and raised over £143k.Explore the Arrow Certification Program
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Photogram AI wanted to help content creators shoot and share better content, faster. So they created the Alice Camera, an AI camera that combines the capabilities of a professional camera with the ease and convenience of a smartphone. But releasing a device during a global pandemic -- and a worldwide semiconductor shortage -- is no small feat. Luckily the team at Photogram AI worked closely with Arrow and Indiegogo to acquire parts, get technical support, and build a community. Their campaign was a smash success and raised over £143k.
Photogram AI was founded in June 2019 by two people who are passionate about creating content with cameras. Co-founders Vishal Kumar and Dr. Liam Donovan met on the Entrepreneur First London 12 cohort, and the pair went on to build the Alice Camera, an innovative product that helps content creators like themselves make better content with ease.
“The problem is, people use nice cameras from big brands because the cameras are really good. Your smartphone might be convenient, but you’re not going to turn up to film a commercial with an iPhone,” says Kumar. “But the user interface on those cameras is really bad. The screens haven’t evolved much in the last twenty years, and because many of these cameras still rely on memory cards, you have to take the card out and wait several hours for everything to load into your laptop.”
The Alice Camera was designed to change that. The sleekly-designed camera mounts onto the back of most smartphones and users can control the camera through their phone’s touch screen using Alice Camera’s native app. The camera delivers a smooth user experience and cuts back significantly on how quickly a user can create, edit, and share a video with their followers.
“The average YouTuber will spend $100 in month on video editing software and spend about 10 hours editing a five minute video for YouTube. That’s crazy and we want to drastically streamline the process for content creators. We want that YouTuber to do all that editing in less than an hour using the controls on their smartphone,” says Kumar.
The Photogram AI team connected with Arrow early in their prototyping stage at an event hosted by Digital Catapult, an accelerator program in London. Arrow helped them source components for the Alice Camera and guided them through the process of acquiring the materials they needed.
“Arrow told us where and how to get materials, and they supplied materials as well. They held our hands through the whole process and without Arrow by our side, it would have been nearly impossible to create the Alice Camera. Especially in the midst of a global pandemic and a semiconductor shortage,” says Kumar.
“Unfortunately, there are probably a lot of startups out there who really struggled to navigate the shortage by themselves. There were some seriously rocky waters for hardware startups last year, and I can certainly say that we were lucky to have had Arrow beside us,” he continues.
Photogram AI joined the Arrow Certification Program, which allowed them to display a badge on their campaign page advertising to backers that their engineering was backed by Arrow’s expertise. “We got [our technology] Arrow Certified, which showed backers that we were serious about our product and helped give backers confidence in Alice Camera’s quality.”
“Crowdfunding is perfect when you’re creating something like the Alice Camera, something that has never existed before,” says Kumar. “It takes a lot of time to build a hardware product like this, and we wanted to foster a community around Alice. That’s part of our strategy. Crowdfunding allowed us to get funding from backers who saw our vision, which gave us time to develop the product and build a nice community in the process.”
“As a result of our crowdfunding campaign, we got so much more than just 300 backers on Indiegogo,” Kumar continues. “We also got 10k people on our newsletter list and 1.5k subscribers on our YouTube channel. Indiegogo helped us market ourselves and garner a lot of prestigious press coverage.”
Crowdfunding has been the perfect launchpad for building a following that will take Photogram AI well beyond their crowdfunding campaign. “We’re really community-focused. We continue to build content around our passion for video and photography and get people involved in that story. We gave a free camera away to our community. We did a takeover of Indiegogo’s Instagram account and through that takeover we were able to do interviews with influencers, customers, partners, and demonstrate our passion for video with their entirety of Indiegogo’s Instagram following.”
Kumar and the team were thrilled with the outcome of their relationships with Indiegogo and Arrow. “Crowdfunding was quite thrilling,” says Kumar. “It can make you anxious to take a product out into the world for the first time. But we had the support we needed to do it well. Crowdfunding with Indiegogo was really fun. It made us feel like we started the year with a bang.”
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