Job seekers should be focusing on online video as the next tv network. As the four major TV networks continue to announce ratings declines the sources of new online video continue to grow. YouTube has committed in excess of $40 million dollars to independent producers to create programming and has added live streaming and subscriptions as they build their 1 billion plus user platform. Currently over100 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute.
In today’s digital world everyone can be a producer.
With the introduction of a wearable video camera, MeCam, the market continues to expand.
MeCam, currently only offered online, is shortly to be working on distribution deals with major retailers and expects to see significant distribution increases.
We caught up with Drew Martin, the inventor of the MeCam, and learned about his plans for this newly released product.
You can listen to Drew’s Interview here and read it below:
Roy: My name is Roy Weissman from MediaJobs.com. Today we are speaking with Drew Martin from MeCam. MeCam is the hands-free wearable video camera that captures your life; live life to the fullest and let MeCam capture it for you. Welcome Drew.
Drew: Thank you.
Roy: How are you this morning?
Drew: I am great thanks. How are you?
Roy: What made you start this service? When did you start it? Where did this come from? Did you have any experience? Tell us a little bit.
Drew: Just as with any kind of entrepreneurial endeavor, this is not where I envision myself five years ago. Everybody kind of has their own path to where they end up. I just turned 30 so I am pretty young, but I feel like I have gone through a lifetime of careers, especially with everything that has happened in between graduating college and now as far as financial world and atmosphere.
Originally out of college I was a finance person and working in banking, and then it wasn’t fulfilling for me per se, and it wasn’t what I found to be my calling or what made me happy. I did some other different career paths but somehow I ended up investing into a spyware company, so spyware such as small cameras, nanny cams, which are is a pretty large market.
From there I thought this technology is very cool; however, it is really being pigeonholed into only marketed as spyware, which kind of has a creepy connotation and is not really accepted by the mainstream public.
I thought why don’t I take this technology and put it into something that is a little bit more acceptable to the public. That is how MeCam was born. It took me about a year to develop, and I launched it in January 2013, and six months down the road, thankfully, it is successful and people are reacting well to it and buying it, and we are getting users every day and here we are.
Roy: Did you have a background in cameras or optics or anything like that?
Drew: No, not at all. I think that we are very lucky to live in a day and age where you don’t have to have expertise in a field to necessarily go into it and start a business out of it. With the internet today, with the global market place, I think that you are able to educate yourself about anything you want to do, and if you have the gusto and the motivation, you can go and do it.
No, I didn’t have any background in cameras or technology. Like I said, I came from a finance background. After I did finance, I had a couple of retail stores in Manhattan, which taught me about what it takes to run your first business, more so about being prepared for the unexpected if you can.
Every little business that you do, you learn something new. You take that lesson and move on, whether you succeed or fail but no background at all in technology. I educated myself and I consider myself not an expert but very familiar with this space now.
Roy: Do you think of MeCam as in the camera market or in the wearable’s, the technology wearable’s market?
Drew: It can go into both. It is not a product that I feel people are going to go into a Best Buy and they are going to go look for camcorder or point and click or point and shoot camera. It is not meant to necessarily replace other cameras, but it is supposed to be in addition.
I really think that it will be part or if part of this new wave of wearable technology, which I think we are going to see a huge proliferation of in the next two to four years, especially with the launch of Google Glass and other wearable technologies such as smart watches and things of this nature.
Roy: Now how would you say from a financial perspective, what would you say the size of the market is for a product like this?
Drew: It is really hard to gauge. As with any new market, it is hard to really gauge it. I think the possibilities are really endless because there are a lot of practical applications for it. When I launched this product, I had a totally different demographic envisioned and uses; I thought it was more for a young person to take their life and go to concerts and festivals, stuff like that.
However, since I have launched it, people have always been reacting well to it. People have been using it for work a lot in their different fields, from real estate agents taping walk-throughs, to people in sales recording them, teaching their employees, etcetera. There has really been a lot of uses for it.
However, just to give you an example, a company like Go Pro, which is about seven to ten years old, in between there. It got evaluated at around $2 million, with FoxCon investing in them.
If you want to go with that, that will give you a better idea of the market. That is a little bit of a bigger camera and higher price point, but that is now our company.
Roy: What is Go Pro? Can you explain that for everybody?
Drew: Go Pro is a, you can also say that it is a wearable camera. It is a camera that has been catered to extreme sports — surfing, snowboarding, skiing, mountain bike riding, things of this nature, and auto racing.
They have a whole bunch of different kinds of fittings, it is a small camera, small high guard camera, and it also has a lot of different mounts, so you can now mount it to your surfboard, and you can mount it to your helmet, and you don’t exactly wear it like a MeCam on your body or clothes, but there are a lot of different mounts. You can wear it on your head if you like.
They were kind of an innovator of this wearable camera technology, but they really focused more on an extreme athlete and sport demographic, whereas with MeCam I am more focused on the average consumer.
Roy: With Go Pro, how much does that sell for?
Drew: They are between $300 to $400.
Roy: How much is MeCam?
Drew: MeCam retails between $50 to $70.
Roy: On a MeCam, how much video can I store on that?
Drew: MeCam you can store, the battery life is really the bigger issue; it lasts around an hour and a half. I offer different memory sizes, between one hour to up to four hours. It goes one hour, two hours, or four hours. I offer different memory options.
Roy: The Go Pro lasts how long?
Drew: I’m not sure, maybe three hours. It is just a function of size and how big the battery can be because MeCam is only two inches in diameter, so unfortunately it hasn’t been great advances in battery technology; I think you are also going to see some changes in that in the next couple of years. Because even with things such as a smart phone, I think that most people agree that the battery is the biggest issue. This is also with MeCam, just for the size of it, and there are limitations on the battery and on the size of the battery, which limits how long you can tape.
Roy: You never really gave me a cent dollar value. What do you think the dollar value of the market is for cameras like this?
Drew: On a yearly basis?
Roy: Yes, on an annual basis?
Drew: I’d probably say a $5 billion market, every year.
Roy: That market is the market for cameras, video cameras?
Drew: For everything.
Roy: All cameras.
Drew: Right, because you are getting to a point where all cameras can do the same kind of thing, right? All your digital point shoot cameras are now video cameras, right? You have your DSLR cameras that are able to take great pictures but also shoot HD video, so you have to include where the market used to be segregated into point shoot cameras and video cameras. That market is merging into one, right. That is where we heading with I think all devices.
Roy: Oh, yes.
Drew: Exactly, that is where we are heading.
Roy: That’s why you are thinking it is $5 million, overall.
Roy: Other than Go Pro, is there anyone else doing something similar to the MeCam?
Drew: At the price point, no. There is no real competitor at the price point. There are other cameras that will do something similar, but they are three times the price.
Roy: The MeCam sells for how much?
Drew: $50 to $70 retail.
Roy: $50 to $70, can I get it in the store now?
Drew: As a new launch, startup company, I had some decisions to make, and so my business model personally was that I wanted to keep the product very inexpensive, and in that way introduce it to the public and educate them on what MeCam is, what it does, the culture of MeCam, and to do that by keeping it affordable.
When I did that, it has limited me because the margins are small except for doing stuff like retail, so right now I am a direct consumer and I sell at outlets such as fab.com and The Fancy and other sites like that. I am not in a physical brick and mortar retail right now. However, I am launching a new MeCam in the upcoming months, probably in August or September, which will be in retail.
Roy: Will that be more expensive?
Drew: Yes, it will be slightly more expensive, but it will be a lot more technologically advanced camera.
Roy: What do you think that will go for?
Drew: I’m thinking it will sell between $120 and $150. I’ll always offer both, but the next one will be completely Wi-Fi with an application to your phone.
Roy: Wow. It sounds like everything is connecting to everything.
Drew: Well, this is where we are heading. The thing about MeCam is that since I’ve launched it, I have gotten a good user base and I really value my customer’s feedback, and so my initial users have given me a lot of great feedback and so I’ve taken that input and put it into the design of my next MeCam.
Roy: Now, with Google Glasses, does that record video?
Drew: It does.
Roy: That is yet another potential competitor, but that is very expensive.
Drew: Yes, $2000.
Roy: Right. I was just reading an article about the next thing: why wearables are the next security maelstrom; now everyone’s going to be wearing video cameras. That is one of the biggest concerns with the Google glasses that people are wearing them or recording with them, recording the people around them. Do you think that is going to become an issue that is going to slow the growth of what you are doing?
Drew: I don’t. I think that we live in a day and age in which we are being videotaped, photographed 24 hours day, especially if you live in a place like Manhattan or live in a major city, you’re always are on video, whether you know it or not.
I think people will learn to act appropriately and you have to change your behaviour to your environment, to your surroundings. It is not likely to say: Google glasses can record so we’re not going to buy it.
This is not how the consumer is going to react, I don’t believe. It started with smart phones, and I think that was a good step into people adjusting and getting used to being held accountable of how they act because they’re always on video tape. Unfortunately, it is going to be part of our lives and something we have to get used to because it is not going away.
Roy: Maybe people will be wearing disguises going down the street.
Roy: It will be like Halloween, 365 days a year. That way nobody can be recognized.
Drew: Maybe that is my next product is something you can wear, where you’re invisible to the camera.
Roy: That’s it! That sounds right out of science fiction. A friend of mine who is a science fiction freak, we were talking about it the other day, and I said, someone should write an article about the intersection of science fiction with reality. He goes: why? Reality is more insane than science fiction ever was.
He said what is happening today is moving so fast that it is ahead of science fiction. No one’s reading science fiction; they are reading reality.
Roy: Maybe you can be the next one to introduce the non-visible outfits you can wear, so people wearing video cameras won’t be able to see you.
Drew: I agree.
Roy: It’ll be the self-vehicle.
Drew: Nobody is going to steal that one; it is going to be ours, right?
Roy: That’s it! We’ve copyrighted it. It’s on tape. You are currently selling to Fab and Fancy. Do you expect to be expanding to major retailers with the new camera?
Drew: Yes, it is not only local retailers. It is just that when you have a product like this there is a lot of opportunity for international distribution, and at first, I was really against it, and I was more focused on this new direct consumer model.
Unfortunately, if you really want to grow your brand, brand awareness, and just your volume of sales, etcetera, retail is a necessary evil, and you are not going to grow unless you go into retail.
Roy: Certainly retail stores are dying to have good products, so people won’t just buy them online.
Drew: They are. You even need margins to do something like Amazon and stuff like that. It is hard for the consumer to understand what it takes to deal with a brick and mortar retail store and service an account like that.
Let’s say you get a $3 million order. Generally you can spend $2.5 million to service that order. It is not like: oh, we’re rich. You have got a $3 million order that is not how it works. A lot of these stores have a ‘no ask return policy’ up to a year, so you deal with a lot of charge backs, and there are a lot of downsides that come with dealing with these larger companies because as far as smaller companies they kind of own you, but that’s just part of doing business.
Roy: Your experience in retail pays off in this respect, understanding all the issues around retail distribution.
Drew: It does because unfortunately a lot of small companies that don’t understand and will think of hitting it big will go out of business. It is enough to put you out of business, and very quickly, if you don’t know what to expect, and if you haven’t worked with these larger brick and mortar and other big retail stores.
Roy: I think you brought up a really good point when you said: I sell $3 million worth of product but it costs me $2 and a half million to do it. I see people underestimate the marketing costs in selling a product. They think: oh, your product costs $50. I’ll sell it for $75.
They don’t understand there is an enormous amount of cost in the marketing. Many times a product might cost $20 and you have to sell it, even from your sense, to the store for $75 because of you marketing costs. They want contribution to their advertising, or whatever. It all adds up. You’ve got a budget for all those things.
Drew: These are all learning experiences from when I launched I had no idea what margins for consumer electronics were, and what retailers are looking for. That is what you learn, which is part of starting any business; you have your growing pains and you learn something new every day, which part of it is exciting.
Roy: Could you give it any sense? You said you launched this in January, right? That was when you first got it going? Could you give us any sense of what kind of sales you are doing, or any kind of measure from or a sense of how well it is going so far?
Drew: Every day is different. I have probably sold about over 5000 units in the last five or six months, maybe more, maybe 7000. It’s at a pace, where I’ve been able to manage it.
It’s a pace where I am able to grow and reinvest those profits from the company and grow it like that. If I had launched it in January then had to order 10 000 units the second day, I would have probably gone out of business.
Sometimes slow and steady growth is more desirable than a celebrity endorsing it, and you blow out 20 000 units in the second week, and then you’re a success but you probably can’t deliver on that order for a while and then you alienate your new customer.
What’s nice that I have had very steady growth, and I have been able to really interact with my customers personally, which they have really appreciated and getting their feedback, and just really focusing on customer service. I think when you do a product like this customer service is paramount.
Your customer expects it and really appreciates it. You are trying to develop a customer for life rather than trying to pawn your product off on them.
Roy: Other than your site, how many other sites would you say your product is sold on, online?
Drew: Just a couple. I like to keep in charge of my inventory, and so what I do have is, is it’s out there in a lot of blogs and stuff like that, which will backlink to my site. I think it has been amazing how many blogs are out there that are willing to help an entrepreneur out and do some cross promotion.
Because let’s say you have 30 blogs that pick you up, and every blog has their own 20 to 30 000 followers, right, because there are so many out there, and not everybody is going to follow every one.
It is really a unique marketing opportunity that we have today where 10 years ago it didn’t exist, and I probably wouldn’t be able to have this company or launch it the way I did.
It would have taken a lot more money, and you would have, short of going straight into retail, there was no real way to launch a product like this without going full blown. Like I said, we really live in a unique day and age where, I think, anybody can do anything they want.
Roy: Do you have an affiliate program where they can earn commission?
Drew: No, I don’t.
Roy: They are just doing it for the fun of it because they think it’s cool.
Drew: Blogs are looking for content, and so this is, I think, an exciting, new and innovative product; some people have agreed; some haven’t. They are looking for content to put on their sites.
Roy: Do you spend a lot of time reaching out to a lot of these blogs to get this visibility attention?
Drew: Fortunately, they end up reaching out to me a lot of the time, but anybody who emails me, I speak to them. Nobody is too small; every person who reaches out to me I reach out to them in a timely manner, even critics because you reach out to me, and here we are.
Fortunately I haven’t really had to spend a lot of time; at first, I did with press releases and stuff like that. People end up reaching out to me, which is great.
Roy: I think you’ve done phenomenonally in just six months, really from day one. Where would you like to be in a year from now, financially?
Drew: I’m not worried about financials per se. I think that financials are nice; I am not worried about money besides money to grow the company…
Roy: I just mean in sales.
Drew: With sales…
Roy: To make optimum sales, what would you like to be doing?
Drew: I think I’ll reach a million dollar sales by the end of this year, through the holiday season, so by next year I hope to be growing at least 100% every year, if not more.
Roy: Two million or three million maybe next year?
Roy: Surely if you get retail distribution that should rocket distribution?
Drew: Yes, the figures may be misleading but, yes, you are right. It will definitely drive up your revenues. Whether it’ll drive bottom line or not, is different, but it’ll definitely drive up revenues.
Roy: You mentioned bringing in a new camera in three to six months. Do you see any new products? How do you see the business growing? Obviously getting more distribution, but what percentage of your growth do you think will be from distribution versus adding more than one or two new products?
Drew: I think with adding the products the growth comes, and this is just from speaking to people and people emailing me and telling me what they want.
I think that my next product is what people want, and it addresses all the short comings of my first product. I am not going to say it is perfect. It’s my first offering, and I think it is great for the price, and I think people will find a lot of uses for it, but the next product is definitely a huge improvement, and I think all of my growth next year is going to come from that.
Roy: Your one new product?
Drew: Yes, and I think my new product will help the current product sell as well. I think they kind of piggy back off each other.
Roy: Between those two products, you think you are going to do your two to three million next year?
Drew: Hopefully, yes, that is the plan.
Roy: Have you raised any funding for the business at this point?
Drew: I am raising my first round right now. I haven’t needed it before; I blue tracked it myself, and as I said, unfortunately, I wasn’t been able to launch it with not an exorbitant amount of money, but I have been able to hold on to ownership my own company.
Right now I am looking for quite a quality strategic investment. A lot of people have offered me money, and I haven’t taken it, but I am looking for more people who can help me grow the business where I am lacking, where my weak points are as a CEO, in growing this company to the next level. I’m taking on a strategic investment right now and talking to people.
Roy: Can you say how much you are looking to raise?
Drew: It depends. I haven’t even come to a solid figure, potentially $500 000, around there, nothing huge.
Roy: If someone was sitting there with money, burning a hole in their pocket …
Drew: Yes if they are interested in the idea and they want to help build a business, then yes, I am willing to speak to anybody.
Roy: There are surely a lot of brick and mortar retailers who are looking for an edge, so conceivably you might find one or two of those or three of those who wanted to invest in your business because they see it as a product that they could own, not actually own, but have something that would be unique in their stores, that would be very valuable to help them grow their business and differentiate themselves from the online issues.
Drew: I agree. That is how they are going to survive in the next five years.
Roy: Now do you have any employees now?
Drew: Yes, I have a couple of people, people to help fulfill orders and thing like that. I have a consulting team and people who handle my social media and things like that.
I haven’t made any major hires at this point, and that is why I am looking for strategic investors, people who have built companies before because it doesn’t seem like it, but that is the hardest part of this.
You develop a product. Thankfully you’ve had some success. People are reacting well to it. It is selling, and now what? Getting to the next step is where a lot of companies fail, and so I am looking for that help in to building the company and taking the next step.
Roy: Sounds like a Shark Tank promotion! Would you get one of their strategic investors to help you?
Roy: Exactly. Have you thought about, now you have built this business up, it’s four or five years down the road or maybe three years down the road, do you have an exit strategy?
Drew: That is always hard to say because along with building a company you don’t know where the market is going to go and what kind of pivots you can take.
I think that with MeCam what I’m focusing a lot on that stage is going to be the content and my users. I have this hardware, and I’d like to focus on allowing my users to make the most of that content, and so developing some software to help them manage it, and make that user friendly.
It is kind of intimidating right now. You don’t know what kind of pivot a company will take. Best case scenario, yes, I’d love for somebody like Go Pro to buy it in three years. That is an ideal situation, but you never know.
Roy: That is also part of getting strategic investors; sometimes somebody invests in you because they are thinking that they would have the inside track on buying the whole company at some point, if they wanted to.
Drew: Yes, of course.
Roy: At this point you are just trying to really build the business. I think to sell this many units of a product that never existed before, I think is fantastic. It is like anything else.
You see people start businesses, and some people struggle, and some people introduce a product that is in demand, and it starts growing, as I like to say, despite their efforts, and those are the kinds of product that resonate with the market, but in the same token, it is also important to keep in touch with the market or you could easily drift away, but it sounds like you have a product that people love, and to sell 10,000 of them just from a couple of websites and minor word of mouth is obviously significant …
Drew: I haven’t really spent any direct money on advertising, which is nice.
Roy: Which is easier this or the retail business that you had?
Drew: I’m not going to say it is easier because every day it’s something new, but the retail business is an extremely hard business. It’s a seven day a week business. I literally worked seven days a week for two years.
It is very tough. I feel for anybody who has a retail business, and I know what they are going through. If you are also able to be physically interacting with your customers, which is great, every day is fun. For me, this is more exciting and a little bit easier.
Roy: Is there anything you want to mention that I haven’t asked you about that you want to bring up on the call here?
Drew: No, I just think that if there are any aspiring entrepreneurs out there just to do it. People are like: oh, how did you do this? I say no, I just did it.
I will suggest: don’t quite your day job before you have a built product and customers, and ideally you want to have customers before you build your product.
We live in a very unique time and I think people should take advantage of it because plenty of people will look back and have regrets, and it’s like ‘I’ve always wanted to do this.’
We live in a time that anybody can do anything. I am always available if anybody wants to reach out to me.
Roy: How would they reach you?
Drew: They can email me at email@example.com. You can go to my website: mecam.me. All my information is there as well, and you can learn more about the product and hopefully buy one.
Roy: What I love about this interview is this is a great example of a year from now, you could be phenomenally bigger. You have got a product that is getting some traction.
You are about to introduce a product that you can sell to retail, and it is a great example of a company that is really poised to take off. Literally you could be doing millions and millions of dollars next year.
Once you get in some strategic investment from Best Buy or somebody like that, and before you know it, you have an order for 100,000 of these, but done right so that you could get it done and not have any issues.
I think that this is a great example of the kind of companies that we like to talk with, and we totally wish you the best. It sounds like you have a lot of exciting things to do.
Drew: Thank you I appreciate it and I appreciate the time, and yes, I am always available.
Roy: Well, thank you very much Drew.
Drew: Thanks Roy.