Shuttercase is the World’s First ModulariPhone Battery Case That Every Mobile Photographer Should Have
In a field that somewould say is already too innovated, Shuttercase has found an edge by solving a mobile photography problem thatyou didn’t realise you had, until today. As the World’s 1st Modular iPhoneBattery Case with a replaceable camera handle, mechanical shutter button andadd-on lens mount, Shuttercase enables you to hold and shoot your iPhone like aclassic point-and-shoot camera.
In our startup featurestory this week, we chat with one of the co-founders of Shuttercase, Felix Fan,on the inspiration that brought him to finding a solution for a mobilephotography ergonomics problem and his experiences so far growing Shuttercase tobecome a household brand in the US.
INSPIRATION BEHIND SHUTTERCASE
“Iwas an amateur photographer for years. I used to carry my old film camera NikonFM3A with Kodak Tri-X wandering on streets all day, and fumble with chemicalsin the darkroom all night. However, after becoming the father of two children,I gradually lost those long leisure hours for films. I turned to digital,” saysFelix as he delves into the early days of discovering the digital photographyspace.
Despitehaving great cameras in Nikon D90-D300S-Df and then latter Ricoh GR family,Felix fell in love fast with the iPhone. It was easily portable, it is probablythe thing he constantly had in his pockets and from the very beginning it tookgreat photos as compared to its peers at the time.
“I’vebeen an iOS user since the 1st generation launched in 2007, from the iPhone 4,6Plus, 8Plus, to the X, and now the latest XS Max,” he adds. “Since the iPhone8Plus, the sensor and algorithm had evolved to be so good that I basicallystopped using my old GR.”
Eventually, this Steve Jobs invention became a very close companion. Felix says he didn’t need to enlarge his photos or do any prints most of the time. This eliminated his need for the big cameras and eventually settled on sticking to the iPhone. He remarks, “I found iPhone beat all other cameras in terms of convenience. The best camera in the world is the camera in your hand. In that sense, iPhone is the best camera, for me.”
The best camera in the world is the camera in your hand.
Thereis no product without fault. As Felix continued to use the iPhone more andmore, he noticed the inconveniences that it and all other mobile phones havewhen taking photos.
“Theergonomics is inferior to a real pocket camera, because phones are designed tofunction as phones and internet devices, not as cameras.”
Therewas a lot of fumbling before you get the shot out because of lacking balance asyou do the photo taking process. The phone, especially the iPhone, is quitethin and smooth-polished to give you a good grip. When using two hands you arealways missing the critical moment, as fast as the camera might be. As such, itwas a pain that Felix believed needed to be solved.
“Whatif there is a way to hold and shoot on the smartphone like my good old RicohGR?” he asked himself. This is the question that set him off to making what isprobably the world’s first modular iPhone battery case. He asked the questionof why no one had made this before, and got into the process of finding out howit would happen.
“In2016, with two friends Mikael Andersson and Peter Oster, I started the projectas a serious startup. We went through 8 drafts, eight versions of prototypes,countless trial and errors, drawbacks, and failures,” adds Felix.
“Atsome point we thought about giving up, due to the engineering challenges, theextremely high cost, and the unforeseeable market prospect.”
Withsuch a product, developing your first successful prototype is not a simplebusiness. It is hard and it takes work. Even more, for a startup being fundedfrom the pockets of the three co-founders, the engineering department wasgobbling up huge sums of money from their budget. They almost gave it all up.And then the iPhone X happened.
“TheiPhone X was such a game-changer in smartphone photography that we decided togo all into it. After a whole year’s collaborative hard work, we pulled off theShuttercase. Now we are shipping worldwide. We made it.”
WHY SHUTTERCASEIS SPECIAL
“Thereis nothing quite like Shuttercase in the market today,” Felix says. Hecontinues, “If we have to pick competitors, then let’s count in Pictar andMoment battery case.”
Hereis a table that would give you a quick comparison between Pictar, Moment, andShuttercase:
|Brand||Shutter Button||Mechasism||Battery Inside?||With Camera Handle?||Need Extra App To Start||More Functions?||Quick Access?||Lens Comptibility?||Price|
|Moment Battery Case||YES||Bluetooth||YES 3100mAh||NO||YES Moment||NO||☆☆☆||Moment Lens||$89|
|Shuttercase||NO||Pure Mechanical Gear||YES 3100mAh||YES||No||iPhone Stand + Everyday Case||☆☆☆☆☆||Moment Lens||$79|
Felixdoesn’t hesitate to explain what the table should bring out clearly. He says, “Weuse a simple mechanical mechanism to trigger the camera. No Bluetooth, No Ultra-sonic. Our engineersare from a mechanical background, and we want to build a whole mechanicalsystem in the age of AI.”
Afully mechanical system means that the Shuttercase is able to work regardlessof whether your Bluetooth is on or not, that is one step cleared out of theway.
Additionally,he adds that since there is no digital connection with the iOS system, youdon’t need any extra App to start using Shuttercase. You could use Apple cameraApp (which he regards as the best) or multiple third-party Apps to shootdirectly.
“So,instead of consuming more power by using Bluetooth, we actually charge youriPhone with this extra battery embedded. We’d say Shuttercase with iPhonecamera App could deliver the functions of Pictar + Morphie, but at half of thecombined price.”
Oneof Tim Ferris principles about product design is to make sure that the productis as simple as possible, and that the customer has to go through as few stepsas possible to make it work. In Shuttercase, the user doesn’t have to do anygimmicks to get the product to work, no Bluetooth, no ultra-sonic, and to addonto that the case comes with an extra battery to power your photo takingexploits.
“Itis faster than Pictar and Moment to initiate the shooting process because allyou need to do is to swap open the iPhone camera App, within 3 seconds. This isvery important when you are out shooting in the street. You should never miss anycritical moment.”
Likemost world first products, the beauty is usually not only in the product itselfbut in all other extensions of services and products that would sprout out fromthe invention. The Shuttercase is no different. “With this patented modular system,we welcome other accessory makers to make add-on extensions, for example, gamehandles, video/mic slide-on components, etc. There are many possibilities.”
Shuttercaseis made for photographers, geeks, social media influencers, Vloggers, constanttravelers who don’t want to carry the big DSLR, or just anyone who enjoystaking photos by smartphone.
Thecompany is using Facebook ads and reaching out to Influencers for marketing.They are sending samples to iPhone photographers (like Jack Hollingsworth /Austin Mann）andVloggers (like Jeven Dovy).
“Sofar we’ve received passionate responses. The pros love Shuttercase. In the nextfew months, you will see more reviews and sharing on social media. We areactively looking for chances to enter the brick and mortar stores. One example:we will be listed in the largest pro camera gear store B&H photo-video inNew York soon next month.”
TheiPhone definitely uses the same concept as all other mobile phones. We wouldexpect that as Shuttercase gains more ground, it could be coming to yourandroid phone as well.
“I’ma die-hard Apple user. I’ve been usingiPhone since the first generation. It’sjust natural to start the business with something I truly enjoy. Our next bigmove is to develop for Pixel phones. Ourteam already started the design process for Pixel 3.”
THE FUTURE OFSHUTTERCASE
Inthe near future, the company is expanding into more mobile phones.Additionally, Felix hopes that Shuttercase will become a popular open-platformgear system with more partners making add-on extensions based on their design.
“Weplan to add a game handle, as an independent accessory in addition to thecurrent replaceable camera handle. We will partner with lens brands and startselling lens bundle in our store, in the next several months.”
Hecontinues, “We have a vision, that with the ever-evolving smartphone sensor,mobile photography will become not only ” popular and easy,” but willdeliver a “WOW ” quality that eventually matches the current 135 formatcameras. And we are determined to make a valuable contribution to thatprocess.”
LESSONS FOR STARTUPS
Aswe cometo the conclusion of our feature story, the shuttercase co-founderadvises new founders and entrepreneurs.
Hesays “We made many mistakes. All of our team members are from an engineeringbackground. None of us knew much about marketing or sales, and we wasted muchmoney and time there. But we managed to pull it off. I won’t elaborate on suggestions like ”understand your audience ” or ” do market search and find yourniche”. They are essential, but well explained already by many. For me personally, I found the three points belowvital to succeed:
- Make a plan on your spending – You will almost certainly spend much more than your plan. We spent five times more than our original budget, mostly on engineering. Make sure you have enough cash left for marketing when you build something that demands substantial investment from your own pocket. For any startup, cash flow should always be the NO.1 concern.
- Follow your passion and be patient. Shuttercase is made out of the love for the art of photography. In the early days, we were baffled by all kinds of drawbacks. We spent 30% of our budget on the engineering process alone building the first three prototypes that were not working at all. Many a night, I woke up in terror of total failure. Then, with the collective hard work of Mikael, Peter and other engineers, we conquered the engineering challenges bit by bit. We wouldn’t have pulled it off without that burning desire to make a difference in mobile photography. It just takes time and effort.
- Running a business is like a marathon, not a 200 meters sprint. Just keep running and eventually you will arrive at your destination.”
Thestory of Shuttercase is inspiring. A story that is quite telling. Aspiringentrepreneurs can learn from this story to build out any invention in theirminds. Of course, we would be happy to help bring it to market with ourstrategic public relations efforts.
Every week we publish a new feature story like this one about brands and startups that are working with us and using our platform for media outreach. Shuttercase is now working with Pressfarm to build out their PR outreach. If you would like to see past startup stories, click here. Until next time, stay tuned and get yourself a Shuttercase while at it!