Norway-based Emilie Aabakken spent nine years in the action sports industry, helping to establish several professional sports festivals in Europe. She filmed professional athletes, ran events and created systems to get the action shots she wanted in the confines of tight spaces and large crowds. For professional shots at major events, she and her colleagues would string cables across the competition spaces, hanging a camera on the line to keep up with athletes. It took hours to set up and, like the systems used over professional U.S. football games, was often prohibitively expensive.
It was that experience that lead Aabakken, 26, and her team to create the WiralCam Lite, a packable, lightweight system that holds a camera while moving along a rope through tight places where drones can’t be used, like in wooded areas or through building windows. Unlike the complicated systems Aabakken previously used, the WiralCam Lite costs $399 and can be set up by consumers in minutes. The product is the first for her company, WiralCam, Inc., formed in 2015.
In order to test the concept, they created a few prototypes – “just messy rigs out of duct tape and such,” says Aabakken – and took them to various sporting events to test the waters. After determining that the product was spurring interest among athletes, they created prototypes – around 70, Aabakken recalls – on a 3D printer they purchased for the company’s headquarters. Aabakken says that they continued to use professional athletes and videographers as their testers, since they wanted experts best suited to say whether the camera had the features pros would want. Her team even created a partnership with the Norwegian National Downhill Mountain Biking team, who gave field-tested feedback on the device’s durability and best features.
The feedback they received from pros combined with “a bunch of exciting, really cool videos” filmed with the device convinced them that the WiralCam Lite was worth producing, and they launched their Kickstarter campaign in late 2017. They set a goal of $30,000 but raised more than $1 million by pre-selling more than 4,300 units. Of the nearly 400,000 projects launched on Kickstarter, only 291 have raised more than $1 million. With such encouragement, Aabakken is aiming to sell 15,000 WiralCam Lites by the end of 2018, with delivery of the first units beginning in June.
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