Brian Lamb started Swivl with a vision: he wanted to make it easier for videographers and presenters to film themselves live. Using a clever little dock that panned around to follow a Bluetooth remote control, the Swivl raised $157,000 on Kickstarter and was released in 2012.
After the initial buzz wore down, Lamb started getting strange calls: teachers were interested in using the product during their lectures, allowing them to film themselves as they taught. These multi-hour-long recordings were getting stuck on their phones and even as problems arose with sharing and battery life, the company was getting more and more calls about making it an educational product.
In short, Swivl pivoted.
Now the company is selling to lecturers, teachers, and presenters and has created an app that allows anyone with an iPhone to stream, record, and share lectures with a few clicks. Rather than becoming a way for skateboarders to record their sweet ollies, it became a must-have tool for teachers.
The company has upgraded the hardware considerably and is now working hard to get a Swivl in every classroom. Lamb isn’t surprised teachers like the tool. “I could very easily see a future where there’s a Swivl-like device in every classroom in the developed world,” he said.
I spoke with Lamb about his project, how it feels to make big changes in strategy, and what it’s like to go from crowdfunded project to big business in a few short years.