Africa

instaLens: From startup to global in a year

By Thomas Page, for CNN

Updated 1002 GMT (1802 HKT) July 30, 2015
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The college dropout who started a tech company that went global within a year. It's a story familiar with many a Hollywood biopic. It's also what happened to Trent Pike (pictured left), co-director of instaLens, a South African startup responsible for some of Instagram's hottest accessories.
instaLens
instaLens' range of attachable camera lenses have caused ripples within both the Instagram and professional photographic communities for their ease of use -- and more importantly, the beautiful images they're able to produce using only a smartphone.
instaLens
With high-profile early adopters and a global community piqued, Pike knew taking instaLens global required his undivided attention. It was either quit studying or "let go of [the] dream completely," Pike says. In the end "it was a pretty easy decision to make." instaLens
Based in Cape Town, Pike started the company with Georgie Greville, his fellow do-director and creative director. They were determined, Greville says, "to create a product that was high quality, easy to use, affordable and universally compatible with all brand and models of phones."
instaLens
Noting that their competitors made iPhone-specific lenses, but that only 3% of South Africans had an iPhone, Pike says they struck on the idea of creating "a unique magnetic attachment system, useable with essentially every phone on the market." instaLens
After months of prototyping, an initial order of 100 lenses was placed. A year later, they have sold over 20,000. instaLens
While South Africa is still their primary market, they have become a global brand. Peruse the hashtag #instaLens on Instagram and you'll find shots from anywhere in the world. Pike and Greville confirm that these aren't merely South Africans abroad. They're regularly shipping to Nigeria, Botswana and Zambia "every few days," and have distributors in the UK and Australia.
instaLens
As for future plans, Greville reveals they'll be launching a new, currently secret product "in the coming months." instaLens