The Indiegogo campaign that turned the action camera world on its head. No more action camera shake? Could Revl’s technology be the ‘want’ on every action camera user’s wishlist?
That’s the plan for the San Francisco-based team. In a departure from the norm, Revl prides itself on having a 1:1 ratio of engineers and designers. And it shows. You’re not looking a box that doubles as a camera.
While the company builds towards the Revl Arc release in December, I had a chance to learn more about the journey of Revl, how it all came together and a piece of what the future looks like.
At Revl’s core is Eric Sanchez, the company’s Founder/CEO. If you’re looking for the unicorn of resumes, the man has it. Electrical engineering was his start that led to work with GM, Honeywell and the Blackhawk program at Sikorsky.
He could tell me if he helped with the stealth Blackhawks made famous in the Bin Laden raid, but he’d have to kill me…
With engineering checked off his list, he went on to obtain a Masters of Industrial Design. It was here that Revl was born. One of the final projects towards the Masters was a project that solved a problem.
Eric’s problem? As a professional Kitesurfer, he noticed the GoPro has zero stabilization, and the initial concept was a system that provided a stabilization case for GoPros.
Thankfully he moved on to making a completely separate camera with his co-founders.
Bruce Pla and Nelson Vazquez round out the trio of co-founders. Bruce is the Chief Design Officer, and we can thank him for it not being a box with a camera lens. Those in the Bay Area will immediately recognize his work with Urban Putt – miniature golf in a way that only San Francisco can pull off.
He studied with Eric at the Academy of Arts, and his design influences can be seen at Techshop and Burning Man.
Nelson Vazquez was Eric’s college roommate when they were both studying to become engineers. Eric went on to work on Blackhawks. Nelson? NASA. Before chasing his dream with Revl, he was working on the Orion project.
Who keeps these three in line? Brianne Kimmel, the company’s marketing officer. Her background includes stints at Nikon and Expedia. While teaching a marketing course at General Assembly SF, she met Bruce and Eric, who pitched her on the idea of Revl Arc.
She’s also the one you see in the video bungee jumping.
Rounding out the team is the lead industrial designer, Corey Richardson, and the George Weickhardt, the lead hardware engineer.
Crowdfunding and Y Combinator
According to Eric and Brianne, the Indiegogo campaign was a great learning experience. Watching the influx of pledges come in allowed them to tweak the campaign to maximize conversions. It has worked as training wheels for a product heading into production.
Its status as a Y Combinator-backed company piqued my interest to approach Brianne for the interview. Revl applied on the last day applications were being accepted for YC Winter 2106. It shows startups should never stop pushing and in this case, procrastination paid off in a big way.
Once inside Y Combinator, Revl was introduced powerbrokers like the CEOs of Fitbit and Airbnb. The incubator focused the company on its core vision, opening the door to securing a $2 million seed round.
It’s the elephant in the room, and Revl’s plan is taking on GoPro through stabilization and ease of editing. The most popular GoPro videos on the web? The amount of post-production work. Stabilization. Color correction. EDM tracks… Ok, maybe not the EDM tracks.
According to Revl, it will come down to simplicity of use. Grab the camera, edit and share right from your phone. Here’s a taste of what stabilization can accomplish:
At launch, the companion editing app will feature basic editing controls such as resolution selection and fps. The company is working on deeper controls, but the preference within the company is the fine line of simplicity and number of features.
Extending the use of the Revl Arc is its compatibility with third-party sensors. Anything with an API has the potential to be used. Fitbit trackers, Polar’s heart rate sensor and OBD sensors in cars.
GoPro is making a major push into third-party peripherals, so it will be a battle to watch when Revl launches the Arc.
When asked about VR and 360-degree video, Revl wants to take a wait-and-see approach. Eric promises the company has the stitching technology to handle it but is comfortable waiting for the industry to mature. It helps the Revl Arc is completely compatible with GoPro accessories and features the standard ¼” mount.
I’d lean towards the company pushing deeper into the niche at launch. Especially with the price point being cheaper than a Hero4 and the necessary number of cameras for the Omni VR rig from GoPro.
Drone or quadcopter enthusiast? The Revl Arc can mount to existing drones with the ¼” mount.
The Insane Indiegogo Video
Shot in new Zealand, the Revl crew put the Revl through its paces. Brianne ended up bungee jumping seven times. Hang gliding, kite surfing and the jet boat. Yeah, awfully trusting of the driver that day.
And plenty of twirling the Revl Arc. I couldn’t resist asking Eric exactly how many times he’s had to do that this year. He lost count past the century mark, but his favorite was demonstrating it in front of Richard Branson. It’s hard to think of a better way to brand your product. Richard Branson using it tops the list.
While filming the marketing for Revl in NZ, the team had a film crew follow them for a behind-the-scenes look. The Revl team want to release it as a six-part series documenting the journey of the Revl Arc.
If you read the Ferdinand Wolf (DJI Europe) interview, we always like to ask what the dream spot to use their company’s technology. For Revl, it’s a breakdown of their collective passions:
Eric: Nitro City Panama (loved it the first time, and would love to go back and do crazier stunts)
Brianne: Patagonia (hiking, biking, kayaking. Would love to film the penguins too)
Bruce: The Baja 1000 (One of the most epic 24-hour races in the world. A true test of both man and machine.)
Nelson: I’d take the Revl to space, so we can product test with zero gravity!
Corey: Hokkaido, Japan for some epic snowboarding
George: I’d use the Revl dog mount and take my husky to a local beach in San Francisco
Brianne, we are expecting serious video on your upcoming trip. Eric? It’s all fun until you’re laid up in a full body cast. Bruce can call me if he needs a spotter.
Nelson can get Alex to pull The Expanse with the Revl. I’ll wait until we have spaceships approaching the level of the Rocinante before I jump onboard.
Revl is preparing the launch of the company’s website this week, and right now, the $100 discount on the Indiegogo package is still available.
Special thanks to Brianne for setting up the interview and Eric for talking about the madness that is Nitro City.