Olloclips almost left Patrick O’Neill homeless…
Patrick O’Neill is a 50 year old amateur photographer who saw a gap in the market and was willing to put his house and financial security on the line to fill that gap. O’Neill bet his house that people would be willing to spend extra money to post high quality pictures on social media platforms. The trend on places like Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest is for higher quality photos and although DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) cameras are producing better and better quality pictures at affordable prices (at least when compared to high-end camera prices) it is not as portable and ready to hand as the camera on your mobile phone. When something “snap worthy” happens, you are more likely to reach for your mobile phone instead of your chunky DSLR camera even though the DSLR will produce better quality photos. This is the need that O’Neill gambled his family home and financial welfare to fulfil.
Patrick O’Neill took out a $200,000 loan against the value of his Orange County (California) home that he lives in with this family. He had to sit down with his family and explain that he had taken out the loan against the house, which means that if his invention failed they could potentially become homeless. However, he also explained that he felt strongly that his hunch was correct that he was almost certain that the risk would pay off and the gamble was worth taking. What invention was Patrick O’Neill willing to gamble everything on? A detachable camera lens that can be attached to smartphones called the “Olloclip”.
The Olloclip is a camera lens attachment for your smartphone, giving you higher pictures. As any amateur photographer would know, photography isn’t just about the heavy high quality camera like a DSLR but also the big bag of accessories (tripod, different lenses, extra batteries, spare sim cards and so on) you have to carry with it – but this invention hopes to make this a thing of the past.
His gamble paid off and his hunch was correct, it turned out that there wasn’t only a demand for this product but fellow amateur photographers were also willing to help finance the project. O’Neill set up a Kickstarter campaign and 13,000 backers raised over $68,000 (£47,786). This finance along with his $200,000 loan allowed the technology to be produced and the creation of a US company to distribute it.
The device works by snuggly locking into place over your camera phone and there are also options to get a “4-In-1 Lens”, which gives you 4 lens options including wide-angle, fisheye and two close up options.
To date there have been over 1.5 million Olloclips sold and sales are reported to grow by 20% each year. The company employs 50 people, it is produced in a facility in Southern California and glass lenses produced in China. There are also plans to expand in to other photography accessories and different smartphone cases, however, Mr O’Neil asserts that the company will only move into items related to mobile technologies.
The biggest challenge that the company faces is keeping up with all the new mobile phone devices and ensuring that the Olloclip will fit. At the moment the Olloclip has two main models for the Samsung Galaxy and Apple’s iPhone / iPad. Mr O’Neill, who is a big Apple fan himself, says his business tends to focus primarily on Apple products because Apple’s customers are likely to spend more money on phone accessories. It is also of no surprise that Apple sell Olloclips in their stores, which has been a big part of it’s success.
Editor of the tech-news site CNET, Joshua Goldman says the success of the Olloclip is down to the fact that it offers superior quality to what is currently available on the market but at a price that is within reach of most customers. The importance of looking good and uploading good quality pictures on social media sites means that this product has come at the right time and should continue to see success.