This LA Startup Raised $5M to Change Photography



People are taking far more photographs than ever before – 1.2 trillion estimated in 2017 alone and likewise; the market has shifted to appease the casual photography fan, leaving the dedicated and professionals behind. Thankfully MYGNAR is rewarding the truly dedicated with their brand new, portable backup and editing system. Understanding the pain point of only being able to edit from their computers, GNARBOX accompanies you on all of your excursions for easy import, editing, and sharing. While the market will continue making more and more selfie friendly filters, MYGNAR will be there for the professionals.

LA TechWatch chatted with CEO and cofounder Tim Feess about the Startup and their first round of funding.

Who were your investors and how much did you raise?

We recently raised $5M in a Series A round from an undisclosed private investor.

Tell us about your product or service.

GNARBOX is a portable backup and editing system for any camera (GoPro, Drone, DSLR). Our users love the product because it allows them to leave their laptop at home while traveling. The product itself is a rugged, pocket-sized computer that pairs with an app on your smartphone or tablet over WiFi for fast, intuitive, editing, and sharing.

What inspired you to start the company?

We wanted to make the creative process easier for everyone with a camera – that’s why we started GNARBOX.

Will and I became friends through a shared passion for skiing. We had full-time jobs, but made frequent weekend trips to Mammoth and began to talk about how we wished we could get more out of our GoPro footage. Over time, we began to realize that almost everyone with a camera had the same problem – managing, editing, and storing all that content was a pain! And as a result, an incredibly small percentage of people never got around to sharing their moments.

How is it different?

There’s pretty much nothing like it on the market. There are a few hard drive companies that make portable storage devices designed for cameras, but nothing out there that has been built from the ground up to replace your laptop while in the field. Everything from our hardware all the way out to our software is purpose-built and it shows.

What market you are targeting and how big is it?

We’re targeting anyone with a camera with our initial product, but plan to expand to other areas in need of mobile storage and processing in the future. Our estimates show that there are somewhere between 150,000,000 and 200,000,000 cameras out there worldwide that are relevant to the GNARBOX. It’s a niche, but a big one at that!

What’s your business model?

From a product perspective it’s to build solutions that accomplish meaningful jobs in our customers lives.

From a revenue perspective, we make money by selling computer hardware.

What did you learn from your Kickstarter campaign that you still apply today?

A whole lot – a lot of our market analytics, marketing foundation, and community dynamics are driven by our Kickstarter backers and experience. Kickstarter backers still represent a significant chunk of our customer base, and they were instrumental in helping us refine the product in the months leading up to public availability. We’d be nothing without them.

What was the funding process like?

For us it was actually pretty simple – I’ve been working with the same investment group since October 2015 and we have a great relationship. We had milestones set out when we raised our seed round in September, and knew that if we hit those milestones, we would be ready to do a Series A together in April.

What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?

Raising capital is really hard – the hardest part was finding a partner that we could trust and had the deep pockets we need to grow our business.

We’re very fortunate to have a great investment group behind our product, and it’s been a major plus not working with any VC’s or other institutional investors.

What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?

I think it’s fundamental trust in the decision-making of management at the company. Also, a deep belief that the product should exist and our execution strategy is well-thought out.

What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?

The next six months will be huge for us. We have sales milestones for the Holiday Season, a second product being developed, and a growing community to focus on.

What advice can you offer companies in Los Angeles that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?

Don’t sweat the money, figure out how to survive, and pick tangible milestones you believe will be enough to get the next installment of funding. Then, ruthlessly prioritize the most important things until you get to where you need to go.

Where do you see the company going now over the near term?

That’s a tough question – I’d reiterate the milestones for the next 6 months. We’re focused on those three things.

What is your favorite LA bar, when you need to kick back and relax?

I don’t really go out too much, but my favorite bar was O’Brien’s on Main Street in Santa Monica. It’s been closed for months though and I’m not sure why – bummer.

About the author: LA TechWatch

LATechWatch is a property focused on the Los Angeles technology, startup, and entrepreneurial ecosystem with a global readership of highly affluent and educated individuals across 200+ countries.

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