As Triggertrap pulls plug on Ada kickstarter, CEO Haje Jan Kamps responds to comments from unhappy backers
Despite a successful round of funding through Kickstarter, Triggertrap has run into difficulties developing its Ada prototype and has announced that it will not be continuing with the project. As of November last year the company had raised nearly £300,000 (about $461,000) in crowdfunding for its latest innovation, Ada - a high-speed shutter and flash trigger.
It was designed to launch with four different sensor options and would have also included a timelapse mode, HDR photography mode, Star Trail mode and an acceleration mode for timelapse. In reality, Triggertrap spent too much money developing its prototype and software. Unable to afford production costs and failing to find other financial sources, Triggertrap has put an end to the product and will be offering backers partial refunds.
CEO Haje Jan Kamp spoke with us about the reaction he's seen from the projects backers. Some had voiced concerns that the company wasn't doing enough to fund its own failure. Kamps responds to this by pointing out the obligation the company has to its existing customers. Says Kamps:
'When we ran our first Kickstarter campaign in 2011, we had nothing to lose. We raised $77k from almost 1,000 backers, and we were going to deliver Triggertrap v1, come hell or high water. At that point, we weren't a business: We were a project. The Kickstarter money was our project budget. And if we had failed to deliver on that project, we would have been able to liquidate every asset to try to deliver the product or refund our backers. We delivered late on that project, but ultimately we did deliver, and that success sparked Triggertrap to life as a company.
'...we had to make a really difficult call: Are we going to attempt to deliver Triggertrap Ada in the knowledge that we would almost certainly go bankrupt as a business?'
'Today, things are very different indeed. Separate from our Kickstarter project, we developed and launched Triggertrap Mobile in 2012. In other words: we're no longer just a project - we are a company with hundreds of thousands of customers in more than 120 different countries. This meant that we had to make a really difficult call: Are we going to attempt to deliver Triggertrap Ada in the knowledge that we would almost certainly go bankrupt as a business? The answer to that was no: Failing to deliver to our 2,000 Kickstarter backers would also mean letting down all our other customers, who are currently out there, using Triggertrap Mobile to take timelapse videos, sound-triggered photography, and are actively creating amazing photography.
'So, we had to figure out what we could do for our Kickstarter backers, and ultimately thought about it this way: If this was our first project, what would we do? We - in one of the hardest meetings we've had at Triggertrap - decided to pull the plug, and to give back everything we can: The things we've learned along the way, the things we've developed so far, and the remaining funds.'
In addition to the funds left for the project, Kamps states that the project's source code and schematics will also be released to its backers. Commenting on the response from some backers who felt they'd been strung along, he voiced his sympathy:
'I completely understand that people are angry and frustrated, and we expected to get some visceral responses; I've backed a lot of Kickstarter projects myself, and sometimes they don't deliver, or deliver something a lot less than what was hoped for.
'We let a lot of people down, and I'm losing a tremendous amount of sleep over that.'
'Ultimately, though, that's the power of Kickstarter: You're not just placing an order and waiting for a product to arrive; you're part of the highs and lows of bringing a new product to market. You're making products possible that wouldn't otherwise exist. You're helping entrepreneurs take insanely big risks to follow a vision for a product. They often succeed (Pebble, Form 1 printer, The Coolest), but sometimes, they fail. In Kickstarter's own words, "Some projects won't go as planned."
'Even with a creator's best efforts, a project may not work out the way everyone hopes. Kickstarter creators have a remarkable track record, but nothing's guaranteed". To my horror, I'm realising that we are that project. We let a lot of people down, and I'm losing a tremendous amount of sleep over that.'
An update posted to the project's Kickstarter page gives more detail about what went wrong and refund options for backers.