Don’t lose creative momentum after you nailed the perfect shot
Backup, Edit, and Share your photos mid adventure with Gnarbox
To find out more behind how Gnarbox got its start and what’s in store for the future, Josh interviews Gnarbox co-founder, Will Africano
More about the episode...
Josh sits down with Gnarbox co-founder Will Africano. Gnarbox is a portable backup and editing system that is meant to be the outdoor photographer/videographers best friend. After Will Africano moved to LA he soon befriended Gnarbox co-founder Tim Feess and soon bonded over their love for skiing and photography. During their trips to the mountain they would list off their grievances with roadblocks that came with the delay between shoots and edit sessions which would eventually give birth to the idea of Gnarbox. Fast forward two years and they have launched on the most successful Kickstarters we’ve seen and are offering an incredibly unique product that will change how adventure photographers edit.
Have an opinion? We want to hear it! Join the conversation and leave a comment, check out show notes, and get all the links mentioned in this episode below
- Check out Gnarbox’s website
- Answers and Advice from the Gnarbox team
- Follow Gnarbox on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
What is Gnarbox all about?
“At Gnarbox our mission has always been to make the creative process easier and we serve anyone with a camera...We’re in the camera industry for sure, but our primary focus is providing camera users a tool that allows them to backup, edit, and share in the field without a laptop…”
How did you come up with the idea for Gnarbox?
“Tim and I actually met through a friend when I moved out to Los Angeles a number of years ago...we met because we were both interested in skiing...we were skiing and we were filming and through those car rides we started to really assemble a list of problems we had with the process of post production in between these adventurous, exhausting shoots…”
Do either you or Tim have a technical background?
“Neither of us had a technical background and both of us spent a bunch of time in the early days learning how to code...We started to prototype applications through web client software and eventually when we got enough hardware we had other technical members of the team that had experience in that…the key to it all was acknowledging that you knew very little and finding out how to learn things or ask for help...”
How long was the actual journey from the initial idea to having the final product?
“It took almost three years to really hone in and start working hard to make it. We started shipping it in March of 2017 and we had launched our kickstarter in 2015…”
How did you go about marketing it and gaining validation in the market?
“I think Kickstarter was definitely the solution to that. At the time of starting Gnarbox Kickstarter was a very popular platform for new products to get validation and funding and to test a marketing platform. Now, we developed that marketing platform and brought it to kickstarter and one of the key parts of it was partnering with influencers, presenting in action sports environment that we were actually comfortable with…”
What helped you launch such a successful Kickstarter?
“We just had a product that solved a real problem, that was probably first and foremost. We offered people a really good deal which is important to innovators and early adopters that are on the Kickstarter platform...When I look back on the campaign I think we presented it in an exciting way and true to product and us…”
How did you guys partner with Travis Rice?
“We were looking for someone to help us tell our story and we wrote up an email and through a friend of a friend we were able to get his agents email address...he read the email, said yeah I’m interested in that and want to get on the phone with these guys…”
How do you and your partner compliment each other with growing Gnarbox?
“My background is mostly not in marketing but the consumer side of things. I worked in the retail industry but really in data gathering. A lot of the early foundations of this company are based off of a instagram community that we developed and learned from them and gathered insights on what their problems were…”
What did the growth look like for you guys since you started?
“...After Kickstarter we had enough funds to actually move in an office… since then we went from 2 people to 4, to today we’re at about 20 and we’re in our second office…”
How did you know you needed to raise capital in order to make Gnarbox Successful?
“Financial planning, I guess. You just have to think about the scope of work and the magnitude that needs to be developed...it was a business exercise in saying we were going to need these resources to actually create this...we were willing to build growth and scale. That was something we had to traject through close planning and tight budgeting…”
Did you have any mentors in helping build Gnarbox?
“...I think Tim has a lot more mentors than I do. I like to learn from reading and some of our team members that have experience from other places. Phoning a friend is more of a common thing to me then sticking around with a mentor…”
What is your commitment to sustainability?
“That’s a really interesting question for us because I think at the core of our personal company values and the general social responsibility that we hold. But, for us electronics manufacturing is a very fixed supply chain world. There’s only one intel quad core processor that you can fit into your product that gets the job done...what we have to do in order to take more of a holistic approach to the supply chain is really looking into the logistics side of things…What we actually did was set up a supply chain that is very localized...”
What culture exists within Gnarbox?
“...When you go from two people you build you own culture and when you add a third person in, now the distribution of culture values as dramatically shifted. But, as you go from three to ten, everytime you added a person the culture would change a little bit...from there it was more of an established culture, so the culture itself was changing less and less... I think what defines us a lot is the practices we keep, for example, a daily stand up where every single person in the company is gathered in the core central room of our office and we just report a couple different things that different teams are working on…”
What has been one of the hardest parts about starting and building Gnarbox?
“I think the most challenging thing always has to do with people and management. It’s really easy to focus on the work and the work that needs to be done. It’s hard to always reinforce the people that are doing the work and making sure everyone’s happy. When you take on the responsibility of other people’s happiness, livelihoods, and the environment that they are spending a lot of time in, oyu need to make sure that is addressed and taken care of…”
What has been one of your greatest fears and how do you manage it?
“I think there’s always an ongoing fear for any business of having failure. Everyone's afraid of the company dying and I think it can creep in your mind and it can grow during dark days and I think embracing failure as a part of your culture can be a good way to work through that…”
What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made with Gnarbox?
“That’s an important and pretty loaded question at times. I think anytime that we’re not listening to our customers and staying nimble to react to what they’re saying is a moment where we’re making a mistake that’s a big mistake...It’s easy to create distance from customers when you’re occupied by work, or building a company...you need to remember you’re more than just that, you’re your customers too and you need to listen to them…”
Did you always know you wanted to start a business?
“...I wouldn’t say that either of us were the serial entrepreneur types that had a dream of breaking out on our own. I just think that we’re natural risk takers that can embrace and thrive in that environment…”
What advice would you give someone that wanted to start a business in the outdoor space?
“I always just tell everybody, take a deep breath, think really long and hard on it, and if you still sure about that idea then go for! You can have a great idea but you have to sit on it for a while...make sure that you sit down and scope the entire business. Where are all the holes? Where are the risks? Analyze it. Poke holes in your idea. Figure out if there are competitors out there. Don’t quit your day job, do that during the night...”
Where do you see Gnarbox headed into the future?
“...Our vision was to make the creative process easier for anyone with a camera and that’s just what we’re going to keep doing. Whether it’s more hardware products or more software products, we’re going to keep making solutions that try to streamline how they product content…”
What’s the best part about running Gnarbox?
“The best part is just having the creative freedom to build things, whether it’s a marketing campaign, or a team, or a product, we get to spend a lot of time putting a lot of good minds together… we get to learn and experiment and I think that creative freedom is what makes it exciting…”