LUUV | Interview with its co-founders (camera stabilizer)
We meet the LUUV founders in Berlin. LUUV developed a stylish and super simple camera stabilizer for which they raised money via Indiegogo. They got big media attention as this product clearly stands out.
We talked about how they started the company, how to use crowdfunding platforms such as Indiegogo more effectively, what makes LUUV unique, and what advice they can share with first time entrepreneurs.
Interviewer: Hi. Today we are in Berlin with LUUV. Friedrich, Tim and Felix, who are you and what do you do?
Felix: We are team LUUV, part of team LUUV, one guy is missing of our core team and that is Tobias. We are four founders, and we are doing a camera stabilizer.
Interviewer: Can you tell us a little bit more about how you came up with this kind of idea?
Tim: Actually it was Felix’s idea. He is a passionate snowboard enthusiast since the beginning and always filmed himself with action cameras like GoPro. And when you are filming with a GoPro camera or with actual cameras, you will deal with shaky footage because there isn’t a solution to get shake-free photos, so he started prototyping.
Interviewer: How did you come from this idea to the product?
Freidrich: It evolved. It started as a project, like we did the first prototype just to film some shots stable, and the footage was so good and there was nothing available on the market that turned out to be as good. So we sat down and thought why isn’t there a working product? This was the beginning. It started as a project and it evolved to a startup. Now it’s a company and we’re fund-raising.
Interviewer: So you first had this idea and then you did this prototype, and then you used some kind of crowd funding like Indiegogo?
Felix: Yeah. What we did was to make some iterations, some generations of the prototype until we were satisfied with the result. And this was the point when we started to get it out of our hands and to get back some feedback, and we implemented the feedback, and this is the point where we stated the crowdfunding campaign to check the market, to see what the target group really wants, what are the main features, where is the target group, and do they like our product?
Interviewer: From my understanding, you currently have two types of products. There is a mechanical one and then there is a bio-mechanical, electric picture stabilizer. Can you tell us a bit more about how the product works?
Felix: This one here’s the analog version without any electronics included. What we do is the simulate the center of gravity of a specific camera model. And we have a three-axis element here, which separates the movement of the hand to the camera, and by simulating the center of gravity just below this part, or so it’s called, we can get steady footage in the analog version. This one can be used in water, it’s super-robust like the action camera itself, and this is the go-to product for the average user.
On the other hand, technology evolved in the electronic stabilization market as well, and this is the technology coming from drones, from aerial filmography, and the combination of our analog stabilizer with this electronic stabilizer gives you all possibilities. It’s basically two types of stabilization, and it’s totally foolproof. But it has a disadvantage like it can’t be used in water, whereas on the other hand the basic version is super-robust.
Interviewer: What are the USPs of LUUV?
Felix: There are several USPs, and they all evolved from what we expect a product to have. Because this is where we started, why isn’t there a product having these USPs, and some of them turned out over time, and we just got to know them ourselves and we tested and pivoted, and we learnt which USPs is our target proved one. One USP is the plug and play system. You set up LUUV once for a specific camera model and then it’s just plug and play, you click it in and the product is ready to use. This is one of the USPs because other stabilization systems need to be calibrated each time, and for the calibration process – which can take some time, up to two hours actually – you have to have the theoretical background, knowledge of how to stabilize it. And this is one of the main features, we don’t want to the end user to study a book to use the product, so keep it simple.
Tim: My favorite USP is that, and I think it’s brilliant, because LUUV has a unique shape, so there isn’t a camera stabilizer with the shape of LUUV that marketing. Because of this shape and good handling you can control LUUV with just one hand. In other stabilizers you need to – they promise you it’s a one-handed stabilizer – but in fact you have to have your two hands and you’re destroying stabilization which wasn’t there in the first place. With LUUV you can fully control the system with one hand to get perfect shorts. And that’s what action enthusiasts and people with movement want.
Interviewer: What is your go-to market strategy? How do you plan to distribute it?
Felix: What we’re doing right now is we’re doing some great videos. So we are producing footage as well and for now our go-to marketing strategy is to show the product, to get the product out of hand, to let the users experience it, and we have a wide target group from the average consumer up to experts in the field. Our go-to market strategy is get to the experts, to get to the ones filming stuff, the best in filming motion videos, to give them our products in their hand, get some feedback, and let them work with the product. And then the average consumer adapts.
Interviewer: Tim, you raised quite a bit of money on Indigogo for LUUV, what have been your major learning for raising money via crowdfunding?
Tim: Take time for preparation. It’s hard, hard work. Crowdfunding seems to be very easy, ‘oh nice idea, go to some platform, raise some money’, it’s not. It’s working. You need to be clear about every word you are communicating. You get tons of emails from your backers with all these different requests and stuff.
Interviewer: Can you give us some metrics, how much time did you spend on preparing, how much feedback did you get, and how much customer interaction…?
Tim: The decision for or against crowdfunding took us over one year. So we dealt with this topic a lot, and we really got into this topic. Let’s say when we started our campaign it was a fulltime crowdfunding job. Everything was for the campaign, everything we did was around the campaign. I’m not pretty sure, was it 60 days or 53 days?
Felix: The campaign lasted 53 days, but the preparation beforehand was about two to three months. It’s not all into the crowdfunding campaign, but basically everything ends up being tailored to the crowdfunding campaign. What we didn’t do was to put any money on the crowdfunding campaign. Lots of projects spend a big amount of money on advertising, because you have to get it visible, you have to reach your crowd. I think one learning for us is that you don’t need to put in money if your product is good enough.
Interviewer: This is a hardware company, so is there some kind of advice that you can give other entrepreneurs that are starting other hardware companies on what they should focus on creating a great product and bringing it to market?
Tim: Main advice, keep it simple and stupid. Keep your focus, because when you’re dealing with hardware you’re dealing with tons of opportunities and tons of stuff, you can do everything, it is impossible, but it’s so easy to lose your focus. You have to be clear about what you want to do.
Interviewer: Did you have a specific type of product features or properties that you wanted to have and you just focused on them, or how did you make this focus?
Tim: Our team evolved from our friend circles. Felix came up with the idea and he developed the basic LUUV. It already had some features, because he put a lot of thought in it, and that was a great combination. Then Friedrich entered the team, he is a former brand consultant, and he turned these features into USPs. That was our focus and there it is until now. The product evolves, of course, but we have a clear focus.
Interviewer: Felix, Tim and Friedrich, thank you very much for your time.
Tim: Thank you for the invitation.