Sam Cornwell from Solarcan says he was unprepared for the moment two gentlemen approached his Photography Show booth to present him with the Best in Show award. The award from Future Publishing Limited, the company that runs the event, was for his impressive new product, the Solarcan Puck. He tells me the days before had been a mad rush to get the shipping complete for his 927% funded Kickstarter which left little time to prepare for the upcoming show in Birmingham.
Despite having little time to prepare, with the help of a late night working session in a Birmingham Airbnb flat Friday night before the show, Sam says they arrived early Saturday morning with an action plan and managed to set up in time for opening. Beginning the event with a new slogan, “the world’s simplest camera”, Solarcan was a success with visitors, whether first-timers or familiar faces.
Sam says, ‘Sales were good [at the show] – in fact much better than anticipated and by the time the show had finished we found the Puck to be as compelling to the public as the Solarcan Classic.’
The Puck Kickstarter campaign launched in April 2022, five years to the day the Solarcan Classic had been announced. If you would like to read or watch more about Solarcan history, there are two great articles here and here on 35MMC. You can also read more on Solarcan’s website here. Sam tells me while ambitious, he did not expect that the Puck would soar as high as it did. He says, ‘Logistically the project became more complex by an order of magnitude and things like sleep had to take a back seat while getting everyone’s Puck ready was kept organised and on time.’
Being someone who aims to over-deliver, Sam says he wanted pledgees to unbox their Pucks with a huge “WOW”. Without describing what the packaging would be like before pledgees received it, the Pucks were sent with careful consideration of the user’s impression and experience. Something that Sam said impressed me with the values he holds in his business, ‘Valuing profit over the experience of your community (or even your own sanity at some points) is the wrong way to approach a new product if you want it to be a long term success.’ The team knew they had delivered when the social media posts of exciting unboxings were shared one after another. Sam describes the feeling of seeing the pledgee’s responses, ‘We knew we’d got it right and had a product on our hands that we could take proudly to The Photography Show.’
The hard work, late nights, and little sleep paid off many times over for Sam and the Solarcan Puck! Tuesday afternoon was the day Sam received the glass trophy, but I’ll let him describe the emotions of the event himself.
“It was on Tuesday afternoon though that we had the biggest surprise. A pair of official looking gents arrived at our stand looking for me. I’ve a natural instinct upon seeing anyone like this to panic and say to myself ‘what’ve I done wrong now??’ but I couldn’t have been further from the truth. The team at Future had spotted the Puck early on and found it to be an exciting new product that got people talking. They awarded us with the BEST IN SHOW award that was presented as a glass trophy. Now, for this I was unprepared. My knees buckled slightly and I had to hold back some tears. I hadn’t truly appreciated the work that had gone into getting us to that stage. Having only *just* completed the Kickstarter campaign there still hadn’t been time to reflect on everything. It was extremely nice to feel recognised. With a ridiculous grin on my fat face I ran to all the analogue stands to share the news. The trophy is now sitting on my mantelpiece at home and if anything gives something for my children to look up to. Daddy is capable when he tries.”
He tells me now things are a bit calmer. Looking ahead though, the team has started to prepare for the Christmas season, estimating the Puck could potentially outperform the Solarcan Classic in terms of sales. While the Puck and Solarcan Classic operate the same in the way of being solargraphy cameras that make it very easy to get started with the process of capturing the sun’s path across the sky, the Puck seems to be pulling ahead due to the nature of the exposure times. With the shorter time necessary to expose the Puck, it can take as little as a day with bright sunny conditions.
Sam says, ‘We’ve already noticed a big difference on social media – results pour in much faster because of its nature. Encouraging shorter exposure times and experimentation rather than setting one off on a 6 month’s journey around the Sun has proved to work well with the community.’
Head over to the Solarcan website here if you’d like to order the Solarcan Classic or the Puck as a gift or for yourself. It is now fully available on retail and shipping daily. Sam has very kindly offered a discount for 35MMC readers! Use the code 35mmc-UFWCK at checkout for a 10% discount on the Puck before Christmas.
Congratulations to Sam and the Solarcan Puck for the incredible recognition of such hard work and the determination to get through those difficult moments. Hopefully, Sam, you are getting more sleep these days!
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