In 2014, Ryan Austin was fishing in Trinidad with a group of people when something on one of their fishing lines began to tug aggressively.
The group fought back and forth with what they presumed to be a massive catch, struggling to reel it in.
Suddenly, though, the tugging stopped. The fish escaped. Austin left disappointed.
But it had little to do with not reeling in the catch. Instead, Austin was most upset at not knowing what had happened under water as the fight ensued, according to his younger brother, Brandon Austin.
“That was the light bulb moment in my brother’s mind,” Brandon Austin said. “He came back and told me, and we created the idea to take our passion of fishing into a business.”
In 2015, the Austin brothers, who are avid anglers, launched GoFish Cam, a wireless underwater camera that can be attached to a fishing line and feed live and recorded footage to a smartphone application. The cameras began shipping out last July.
The brothers say they have raised raised roughly $900,000 and sold more than 2,500 cameras from their Austin-based startup. They say they think their product could revolutionize the fishing industry.
Raised in Toronto, the brothers moved to Austin in 2016 because of Texas’ fishing community and Austin’s reputation for tech startups, Brandon Austin said.
The brothers began fundraising through a Kickstarter campaign in 2015 and have since expanded the company through seed and angel investors that include Austin-based Capital Factory.
While similar cameras exist in the market, Brandon Austin said GoFish Cam is different because of its phone-based app, which allows users to view, edit and save videos almost immediately. Its size and weight (about 95 grams), he said, also makes the device usable for any type of fishing.
GoFish Cam costs $240 and is sold through the company’s website, www.gofishcam.com. In addition to shooting live video that streams in high-definition on a user’s phone, the camera is also equipped with a 64 gigabyte SD card and built-in “night vision” light. Battery life is about four hours before needing a charge, according to the company.
Brandon Austin said the company recommends anglers us at least 30-pound tested fishing line when using the camera, as thinner lines are more susceptible to breaking.
During a test of the camera by the American-Statesman, the GoFish Cam app was sluggish at times, but the app was able to hold a live stream, show HD recordings of video and save video.
Brandon Austin said GoFish Cam is close to becoming profitable, and said the company is planning to expand its staff of seven this year while improving its product as it collects user feedback.
The focus now, Brandon Austin said, is in getting all anglers to recognize that their product exists.
“We set out to create a versatile camera that any angler at any time could use,” Austin said. “Now, we see an opportunity to come in and be the market leader.”
What they do:
GoFish Cam is an underwater fishing camera that can be attached to a fishing line and feed video to a smartphone application while also being able to record and store video content. Company executives say the camera can be used for any type of fishing and provides an optimal angle for anglers to watch the action under water as they fish.
Who they are:
Ryan and Brandon Austin are avid anglers who grew up in Toronto. After beginning to fundraise for GoFish Cam in 2015, the brothers moved to Austin in 2016 because of the area’s tech and fishing reputation. The brothers run the company alongs with five other staff members.
GoFish Cam initially raised about $100,000 from a Kickstarter campaign in 2015 and has since raised about $800,000 from seed and angel investors that included a $50,000 investment from Austin-based Capital Factory, according to the company.
Because GoFish Cam is still a small startup, Brandon Austin said choosing where to invest the company’s funds remains the largest obstacle.
“For example, there are 15 trade shows in just January. If we had more resources, we could go to every one of them,” he said. “If we had more funds, we could be more strategic on the sales side. So, it’s about measuring the right opportunities and allocating what we can to attacking those opportunities.”
The Statesman's Startup Spotlight series highlights Central Texas startups that might otherwise be overlooked. To nominate a startup for the series, email Lori Hawkins at firstname.lastname@example.org, Omar L. Gallaga at email@example.com or Sebastian Herrera at firstname.lastname@example.org.