Nelson start-up lands the big one with immersive camera technology

Many ideas may be born in the garage, but SnapIt is one of the few that can boast actually going from garage to the international stage, and creating revolutionary technology for a major global issue—the sustainability of commercial fishing—in the process.

SnapIt, the collective idea of brothers Andrew and Chris Rodley, produces 360 degree-capable cameras specifically adapted for boat monitoring systems, providing a cost-effective alternative to on-board observers. The cameras are currently being used by Sanford and other fishery companies to ensure the fisheries industry is sustainable for future generations.

SnapIT was catapulted into action when the CEO of Sanford saw SnapIT cameras, which were being used for tourism, and suggested they be adapted for use on board fishing vessels. While this was not a direction that the brothers had ever considered, they both agreed it was an amazing opportunity.

“It’s not something we thought we would ever be doing; it was just amazing, you know? But this meant we needed to scale, and scale quickly, and develop a system that doesn’t exist yet: a camera that can go on board a fishing vessel and do what they needed it to do,” says Chris Rodley.

The initial idea of a 360 degree camera that will live stream to the internet was born with the help of the brothers’ father, and his love for his holiday home.

“Our dad had a holiday home and wanted to be able to look at it whilst he was at work,” says Rodley, “so we brought a camera with him that was good, but very expensive and we thought, well, we could do a better job.”

“We then put up a live stream of the view from the bach and it became so popular. People just loved looking at the view. We knew we were on to something then,” he says.

To get the idea up and running, the brothers bootstrapped the project, not taking any external investments.

“We have tried to build the idea organically, and just have it grow and develop it based on people wanting and needing the product,” says Rodley.

“We didn’t take any seed money, we just started out with a heap of different ideas—threw a bunch of mud at the wall and thankfully some of it stuck,” he says.

Once the brothers had developed a concept however, they approached Callaghan Innovation for research and development funding for the idea of placing the cameras on board fishing vessels.

“It’s hard in Nelson because, while there are butchers, bakers and candlestick makers, it is hard to find someone with the same ‘world domination’ aspirations.

“Our goal is to own this niche market globally and it’s difficult to find that type of advice or people who can tap into that, so that’s where Callaghan became really useful,” he says.

Through Callaghan, the company has access to expert advice that has helped it with critical business decisions.

“We have bounced significant strategic decisions off key people at Callaghan and we’ve been connected to key people. Let’s say we have a problem around tech, for example, we’ve been connected to the right authority straight away. These are the types of people we would never have been able to reach without their help”.

Not only is the company focused on the hardware of the cameras, they are also concentrating on what to do with the footage they are capturing.

“We basically thought ‘okay we’ve got cameras on all these boats capturing tons of footage, but what are we gonna do with it all?’ And that’s where our software comes in, interpreting and aiding the processing of the huge amount of data that is being generated by all the hardware on board”.

The company is expanding fast, with interest from Fiji for the fisheries industry there, but also from firms such as Oculus to work on the virtual reality possibilities provided by 360 degree video.

Check out the panoramic pan and tilt possibilities of SnapIt cameras here.