Looking for camera stabilization without any bulk holding you back or weighing you down?
Grab a PakPod for a sleek, compact, super-attachable, waterproof tripod that will keep your shots steady in any condition, angle, or terrain
To find out more behind how PakPod got its start and what’s in store for the future, Josh interviews PakPod founder, Steve Underwood
More about the episode…
Josh sits down with PakPod founder Steve Underwood. PakPod makes the world’s most versatile tripod boasting a myriad of ways to rig and position the tripod to help capturing dynamic shots. Created out of personal need, Underwood was originally introduced to film and photography later in life through his passion for diving. As he became more gear savvy and began searching the market for gear to fit his needs he found products falling a bit short for what he was looking for. Now PakPod has rising to become a must have for any outdoor photographer, boasting a rugged, sleek, lightweight design, that can adapt to whatever angle you need to get the perfect shot. Join us as we shine the spotlight and raise the curtain on the development of PakPod.
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- Check out PakPod’s website
- Grab a PakPod of your very own!
- Watch PakPod in action
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- What is PakPod?
- “PakPod came out of a need I had. I’m a passionate free diver, and in the summers here in maine I was filming in rivers and lakes and other places. I was looking for a way to secure a GoPro or small camera in really challenging or unique situations…”
- Did you know you wanted to launch with a Kickstarter?
- “No, I definitely like to design and build and work with my hands but getting into the tripod thing was out of need….I went through five prototype iterations to end up with a final design…Getting through the prototype phase, Kickstarter seemed like the logical place to go. So, that became my aim and, of course it all happened more slowly…”
- Did you always have a background in photography?
- “I grew up in Massachusetts but went to the University of Maine, majored in engineering and then kind of looped off in a very different tangent of things that involved piano technicians, piano sales (I’m also a musician)…the filming thing just kind of came from my love to free diving which, I found out at age 50 I can hold my breath for an extremely long time…”
- Was there any one factor that was key to making your Kickstarter successful?
- “It didn’t look the same as other tripods, there was something really different about it with the stakes that flip out and pivot, and the attaching points, and the fact that the legs swing 180 degrees…I lucked out in talking to a guy in Portland who almost didn’t fund and in the eleventh hour…”
- What was the next step after your Kickstarter?
- “…Basically right when the campaign closed we sent out the products because we had them on hand and then there were another 1,500 to have made, these were sourced in China and that became the hard part…”
- How did you keep sustainability front of mind when picking a manufacturer?
- “It was more through the sources that I had here that had done business in China. So, it was a little bit of a black box, I was looking at a scorecard that this company had…”
- What does an average day look like for PakPod?
- “It depends on the time of year because one of the things that kind of allowed me to branch out into this other film stuff was the theatre pretty much runs through the school year so mid September to May 1st I am just full on focused on the theater…During that time of year I run this theater business with my partner and basically a prime mover and shaker in that business…One of the key things is having a really good shipping company in New Hampshire. They’re just right on top of things, they’re very reasonable, and I just have to look at the things I need to stay in touch with…there’s no set rhythm each day…”
- What has been one of the hardest parts about building PakPod?
- “I’d say the manufacturing part is a challenge and there are some that are natural salesman and I’m not really that guy….I’d say the sales side is for a me the more challenging side…”
- What have you done to get the word out there for PakPod?
- “It’s really been organic…It was a bit of a struggle how it figure out how to get above the noise and get people tuned into what your product is and how it would help them. In the Kickstarter world it’s easy to get focused and be heard… It really came back to more organic social media and I’ve been working with influencers…”
- Are most of your sales done direct to consumer online?
- “A couple of brick and mortar but, basically it’s through different outlets…Brick and mortar for something like this has its own challenge because of display and that stuff gets very expensive to do and to manage. It’s be mostly focused on online sales…”
- What has been one of your greatest fears in regards to PakPod?
- “…In the relative scope in the size of businesses that people take risks with this is a pretty small business…When I invented it and held the final prototype I was kind of blown away that this had started as some sketches on post it notes. I just deal with the fears as they come…”
- What have been some of the biggest mistakes you made since you started PakPod?
- “I’d say I spend a lot learning about Kickstarter but, right after the Kickstarter ends it’s craziness because you have all these backers sayin’ ‘when, when, when?’ and all the of detail stuff that can just drive you crazy…I should have been learned about [distribution channels] before I launched the Kickstarter…”
- What advice would you give someone that wanted to start a business?
- “If it’s new to you, just be ready to have to dig deep at times to do things that you don’t even know what they are yet…Know that, if you want to see it through and actually gain traction in the market place, there’s a whole lot of work that you haven’t seen yet…”
- Where do you see PakPod headed into the future?
- “I’m not really sure. I’d like to see the PakPod pro brought into the marketplace at some point… I guess just to be a compact swiss army knife for mountain cameras…”
- What’s the best part about running PakPod?
- “Well, I guess the best and the worst part is I’m the ultimate authority… Having never brought a product like this to market, to see like a kid just won one of these in a raffle that we did at the theater and his level of excitement was crazy…I think that’s the best part of it, the things that people post online or check in via email that they’re out using it and being adventurous and creative…”