Disclaimer: We have a vested interest in Prynt.
My previous article touched on the emotional aspect of a modern hardware product. The key is that once you successfully push that emotional button, it's very difficult for copycats to compete with you since your customers are not into the "functions" or "utility" provided by your product. They've come to associate strongly what they "perceive" in using such product with the "brand" that first creates it and executes it to max.
Designed by the 24-year-old CEO Clément Perrot, CTO David Zhang and their brilliant team, the product is basically:
- A smartphone case that allows you to print polaroid-like photos without the need of ink cartridges (and hence messy and clunky moving parts like printing heads)
- An app that constantly buffer-stores a short video before the photo snapping
- The video is stored in Prynt's cloud service and retrievable by the users simply by using the app and camera to aim at the printed photo. The video playback will be overlaid on the printed photo within the camera view — a sort of augmented reality where a live memory is overlaid on a still memory
Back in November 2014, Prynt took the risk and did a pre-Kickstarter TechCrunch piece with Kyle Russell. The risk was people would see what they were doing and copy it. The benefit was obviously to build a momentum for its Kickstarter campaign.
Boy did they get momentum. The TechCrunch interview video got nearly 500,000 views — the 2nd most watched TechCrunch video after the iPhone 6 demo one. Their newsletter subscription numbers skyrocketed after the TechCrunch article was published. A friend dropped me a LINE message telling me that many of her friends in Silicon Valley went nuts about Prynt when they read the article.
The Kickstarter campaign was finally launched at 3pm(CET)/9am(EST) on January 27th, 2015. It subsequently:
- cleared the funding goal of $50,000 in 31 minutes
- passed $100,000 in less than 3 hours
- and passed $200,000 in less than 15 hours.
At the moment of writing the campaign is standing at about $560k. It looks almost surely that Prynt will pass the $1M hallmark and join Lima and Giroptic as the most successful French KS campaigns in recent memory.
What drove people mad about Prynt, both when they read the TechCrunch piece and when they flooded to the Kickstarter campaign to back the product?
Despite having only qualitative appraisal based on a small sample of friends around the world, I would venture to say that it's neither the printer nor the sleek app, but rather the cloud service that stores your video memories alongside the still memories.
Remember how Narrative Clip captured its royal users by enabling them to log their lives — or the lives of their plants — effortlessly? With Prynt you captured the precious pre-snap moments of a group photo at high-school reunion, of a marriage proposal, of your three-year-old blowing the birthday cake candles, etc.
This is highly emotional.
In other words, if Prynt subsequently executes and builds their cloud service to be the definitive platform for storing photo-associated live memories and a social network for friends and families to relive those moments, it would be very difficult for some cost-sensitive Shenzhen makers to copy them and eat into their market shares.
And if this execution can be achieved, then the investment question about whether they would be able to generate a long-term revenue stream from rolling out newer and better polaroid cases or make money from (re-)selling the special polaroid papers becomes sort of irrelevant.
By archiving and safe-keeping the precious memories of their royal customers, Prynt will be able to fend off competitors who attempt to roll out potentially better and cheaper polaroid cases and avoid competing with grey market papers.
That'd then put them in the GoPro realm of intouchabilité, which is exactly why we chose to invest in Prynt when we met the team last year!
[Shameless plug] If you're a hardware entrepreneur creating a brilliant product that combines hardware, software, cloud services and/or big data, that has similar emotional effect, we'd very much like to hear your pitch and see the demo!
Drop me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org !
* Read more: « Getting emotional – the Holy Grail for hardware startups »