My name is Bob, and I am the founder of Konost. We’ve been under wraps for a long time, and as the end of the year approaches, I think this is a good time to tell our story.
Konost started in 2014 when I decided to leave my full-time job to design and build my own cameras. I’ve been an avid amateur photographer for over a decade, and had even worked odd jobs just to save for my first DSLR. I had always dreamed of owning a high-end digital rangefinder and thought making my own one would be a good project.
My vision was to make affordable digital rangefinders for consumers like myself who could not afford other systems on the market, and to share with people the beauty and experience of simple photography.
We launched our website in early 2015 after designing our first hardware prototype using a 20mp CMOS 35mm sensor. The idea was a hit, and people talked about us all over the internet. Some of you were excited, while many more have been passively observing to see if we could actually pull this off. Nonetheless, we decided to take the project forward feeling confident there was a market for our product.
The time between the launch of our website to the present day has been the craziest rollercoaster of my life. Technical development itself was full of challenges. There were different prototypes that had to be supported and iterated, manufacturing changes that had to be made, hardware and software bugs that had to be fixed, and custom optics that needed improvement.
The time between the launch of our website to the present day has been the craziest rollercoaster of my life.
We were also completely self-funded and by late 2015 we knew we needed major funding. This brought us into the world of entrepreneurship as we traveled the globe to raise funding. We pitched to angels, VCs, and even investment groups overseas. There were some interests, but the rise of smartphones was clearly the main retort against our little venture.
We did receive enough to get by, and stubbornly pushed ahead in our development, trying to get to a pre-order stage by Winter 2016. (We’ve clearly miscalculated that deadline). As an MBA student at Duke University (Fuqua), I also grew strong connections in the Duke community, and our project even became a class study. Additionally several professors got involved and have helped us in countless different ways.
As all of this took place, people sent us messages every day, wondering about the launch date and pricing. We remained in stealth mode to avoid unnecessary media attention, and we also decided against a crowdfunding campaign until we were sure we could deliver.
That brings us to today, the end of 2016, and unfortunately, we are still not ready for pre-order. One of the visions I had when I started this was to make digital rangefinders that were not only well-built, but also reasonably priced. However, we have not been able to drive down the cost enough. We have tried many design changes, but I am still not satisfied with what we have. I want to continue to push my team to design well-built products that are also affordable by our target consumers.
Despite all this, we actually have a very exciting future ahead. We’ve switched to a custom sensor, one that has been designed and manufactured specifically for the Konost cameras. This allows our business model to be more cost effective, increase our margins, and provide competitively priced full-frame digital cameras.
We’ve switched to a custom sensor, one that has been designed and manufactured specifically for the Konost cameras.
We have also been able to work out key strategic alliances, partners, and funding, which will help us bring our products to the market. Additionally, our team has grown significantly in experience, talent, and headcount.
This will push production versions of the Konost rangefinders to Q3-Q4 of 2017. We’re still working on releasing limited edition beta versions of the rangefinder in the first half of 2017. Despite the delay in launching, we’ve actually been able to cross major hurdles in order to move forward in creating amazing cameras.
We thank everyone who’s written to us and supported us along the way. Please subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date with our progress as 2017 will be a very big year.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.