Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Kickstarter Failure Kills Triggertrap


Triggertrap seemed to be a successful business. It identified a valuable market niche - interfacing smartphones to semi-professional cameras and providing access to advance photography capabilities that software control allows. Yet the company has announced that it will be closing down.

The Triggertrap Mobile device sold in hundreds of thousands and the company seemed to have a bright future.

Then it launched a Kickstarter project for a second product line: Ada. A multi-output camera control utilising interchangeable trigger mechanisms to bring even more advanced photography to the masses. A product that turned out to be too difficult to bring to market (with the company admitting to some fairly basic project and product management errors).

One of the reasons for cancelling the Ada was that continuing with its manufacture and distribution would bankrupt the company within months. Turns out that the costs of getting to the point of failure were enough to bring the company down anyway and it lasted less than two years from the cancellation of the Kickstarter campaign.

Whether that failure is down to a lack of consumer confidence, having burnt loyal customers in the Kickstarter debacle and killing ongoing sales, as a result of market saturation, or even as the result of money invested into getting the Ada to the point where it became clear the product didn't work financially; the net result is that as of today the Triggertrap Mobile product is no longer being manufactured and once shelf stock is gone will be no more.

Company founder Haje Van Kamps' email confirming the shutdown doesn't go into detail as to what efforts have been made to sell the company, the rights to manufacture its products or any patents it holds. Even the debt alluded to doesn't seem overly onerous - with just $60k identified and that to the company's founders.

One thing that does become clear though, is that the company screwed itself not just by blowing the Kickstarter for Ada, but also by making its Android product and users second class citizens behind iOS. 

Neglecting a huge potential market is not a great business model as it turns out. As soon as Apple abandoned the headphone jack on the iPhone 7 the Triggertrap Mobile iOS product was on shaky ground. Being on better terms with the huge Android user base might just have been the thing to right the ship.

Ultimately Triggertrap just seemed to lack professional direction and management. Maybe its failure was inevitable with or without the Ada. Losing a clever and useful tool from the marketplace is disappointing but maybe somebody else can redevelop and redefine the concept and the marketing and make it work this time.

I'd certainly be interested if that product came to market.

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