ideas in motion
Roll with it: Record-breaking Cinetics puts cameras in unexpected places
“It’s really easy to have an idea,” says founder and CEO of Cinetics, Justin Jensen, of entrepreneurialism. “But it’s the act of putting everything aside and saying 'Alright, I'm going to do it.'"
Jensen will be the first to downplay his success and say that adding wheels to a dolly "isn’t some sort of groundbreaking idea,” but it’s the feedback-based method and down-to-earth mentality with which he set his plan into motion that has set his company apart.
It was in a Media Lab class during grad school at Boston's prestigious MIT where Jensen developed the idea and business plan for Cinetics. Jensen had taken up photography in his spare time outside of class and was eager to move into producing video. As his experimentation (and frustration) grew, he saw the need to fill a void left by traditional, cumbersome studio equipment.
It seemed natural that the first product developed for Cinetics would be CineSkates — a set of wheels that attach to a small tripod to create a portable system capable of setting up smooth dolly shots. Jensen designed CineSkates to work with DSLR cameras up to five pounds.
In 2011 he and his wife, Allison, moved to back to Austin where they'd both attended the University of Texas and immediately started building Cinetics from the ground up. Instead of approaching investors, the Jensens decided to raise the money needed to produce CineSkates via the crowd-funding phenomenon of late, Kickstarter.
They built 100 sets of CineSkates to be sent out to Cinetics' initial Kickstarter investors, and there was so much interest in the project, that the product sold out in less than one day. The most important component to their crowd-funding plan, they will say, came in the customers' feedback: As part of the deal, the backers had to provide Cinetics suggestions as to what they would or would not change about the product.
So successful were the conversational method and product that Cinectics became the second highest funded Kickstarter project at the time their project completed (we're talking an outdoing of the original funding goal by 2,400 percent). Jensen calls the team he works with — Allison Jensen, Chris Anderson, Brit Klawson, Augie Salmon and Karl McDonald — a "blessing" and the reason that Cinetics was able to keep up with the demand that spread like wildfire around the world.
In a matter of months, CineSkates were favorably reviewed by every influential tech site imaginable (Fast Company, Wired, Engadget, Gizmodo, Tech Crunch — the list is exhaustive), giving Cinetics the momentum needed to begin production on their next jaw-dropping product — the CineSquid. A super strong, versatile suction cup camera mount system released released this just month, CineSquid allows filmmakers to capture previously unthinkable shots by attaching their camera to smooth surfaces (planes, cars, boats), from any angle.
"We really enjoy what were doing," says Jensen. "It seems that if we keep solving the problems that filmmakers have, we can keep growing the company and keep doing what we want to do."
There's no telling what Cinetics will have invented by the time it's first birthday rolls around in August. But set your sights high — because whatever you imagine, Jensen and his team will listen intently and be happy to build.
You can order Cinetics online and visit them at the SXSW Interactive trade show at booth 647.