Like most entrepreneurs in the earlier 2000s, Johnson was the proud owner of a BlackBerry Bold. In fact, it wasn’t until 2012 that he traded in the years-old BlackBerry for a Samsung Note 2, and another half a decade later, before he upgraded to the Samsung Note 5.
“People made their remarks about my old phones,” Johnson confessed, “but my response was always the same. Aside from faster processors, better cameras, and new apps, the phone industry hadn’t made any big changes. We’ve all been walking around with the same phones, with a few design quirks, and a different logo slapped on the back.”
The Illusion of Choice
Johnson’s speculations aren’t too far removed from the truth. In the smartphone market, the perfect example of the illusion of choice comes from the two top contenders for market share: Samsung and Apple.
Apple built its success on setting itself apart from the competition. It has what many would call a cult-following of users who swear by the superior quality of the iPhone, and never seem to miss the opportunity to look down on their Samsung-owning colleagues.
While iPhone caters to the cool kids on the block, Samsung has a strong appeal to the tech nerds who prioritize control and customization options on their devices. The irony? Many of iPhone’s most brag-worthy components are made and supplied by none other than the allegedly inferior Samsung. Over the years, Samsung has supplied Apple’s processors, memory chips, and display screens. More often than not, Samsung is Apple’s top supplier, year after year.
Making a Difference
As Johnson continued to watch the patent lawsuits and new releases of the same-old-same-old in the tech market, he was struck with an idea.
“It wasn’t so much about revolutionizing the smartphone market, as it was about providing people with a new way to share their point of view, visually,” he says.
Johnson then began working on a prototype for cameras on glasses. “I saw a lot of opportunities for them—in extreme sports, travel blogging, business conferences, entertainment, and even recording a traffic stop by the police.”
But as the idea matured, and the smartphone industry continued to fail at its attempt to reinvent the wheel, Johnson had a new idea.
“The glasses idea was cool, but then Google Glass was coming out, and there was so much wearable tech that barely lasted a few months. I burned through a few of them, myself. But the one thing we never left home without is our phone. So, I started to realize that if I wanted this technology to last, I would need to work it into our mobile devices.”
Johnson started off by designing a phone case that would carry a removable camera, connected to the phone via Bluetooth. But after presenting the idea to a tech group in Atlanta, he realized that the camera was better added to the actual phone than the case which protected it.
“It’s not that the idea never crossed my mind,” Johnson shares. “But making a phone case, or even spy glasses, is a lot easier (and less expensive!) than what it will cost to build an actual phone.”
At that point, Johnson realized he would need to call in reinforcements.
Calling on Investors
Lucky for Johnson, help was only a phone call away, as his best friend was only too eager to help.
“I loved the idea from the start,” Wil B shares. “I’d been complaining about how annoying it was sometimes to get shots from the stage during a performance, since I need both hands to play the viola. One day, Johnson tells me he has the solution. I offered to back the idea financially for years, so when he finally made me an offer as partner, I was ready to get on-board and get the show on the road.”
The viola-player of Universal-signed hip hop duo, Black Violin, Wil B and his bandmate has shared a stage with big acts like Fort Minor, DMX, Fat Joe, and Akon. In 2017, the band wrapped up a 60-country tour and is already booked for at least 50-venues in the US for the Classical Boom Tour.
While Wil B is the only approved investor on-board POV, Johnson has received offers in excess of 2 million from foreign investors. “They wanted to purchase the patent rights,” Johnson disclosed. “That’s not an option.”
Johnson then brought his friend and colleague, Sam Marrow, into his business. Marrow first started his entrepreneurial journey in his early 20s. Since then, he has worked with big names in business and entertainment, like Jive Records, Davy DMX, and Warner Music Group.
The Big Guns
Johnson soon realized, however, that despite the unwavering support of family and friends, he would need to get the big tech guns on-board to bring his project to life. At this point, he began researching and reaching out to the tech giants in the market. He specifically targeted Apple, Motorola, and Samsung.
“Apple got back to me, but if I send in the information then it becomes their property, and that’s not an arrangement I’m comfortable with,” Johnson laments. “We’re still waiting to hear from Samsung. I would love to get in touch with Google and Microsoft, as well.”
Like any startup, the biggest obstacle faced by 1 View Point in its creation of the POV product is capital.
“With unlimited capital, or a big Apple budget, we could get it all done in no time,” Johnson shares, “but that’s not really how it works. The biggest offers of investment often come with giving up the rights to your own idea, so we decided to limit capital to hold on to our creation, until we get a fair offer we can work with.”
A second obstacle the team has had to grapple with is underlying prejudice in the American tech industry. “We’re not expecting a red-carpet welcoming,” Johnson says, “but the attitude we often get for not fitting the techie stereotypes, is terrible.” Even so, Johnson refuses to be set back by this. “The underdogs will always shine bright,” he vows. “We’ll keep pushing.”
The Road Ahead
True to his word, Johnson has continued to work on his project. The aim is to get as much of the work done on their own, before a good investor comes onboard, thereby making them more and more attractive along the way.
To do this, Johnson employed the great minds at 3D Printing Tech in Atlanta, GA to turn his idea into a physical model. There is also an in-house 3D creator tasked with engineering the team’s vision of a future with POV in the hands of customers.
This POV technology will include a removable camera with a kick-stand, built into a smartphone. The ambitious specs include:
- 11 hours battery life
- HD camera, a voice recorder
- camera flash
- Bluetooth technology
- built-in memory
- detachable safety features similar to what Samsung currently uses for the stylus on the Samsung Note models
Not surprisingly, 1 View Point plans to target entrepreneurs; musicians; travel bloggers; vloggers; extreme sports athletes; and anyone else who spends a great deal of time before or behind the camera, and on the road.
Johnson is also scheduled to attend the Licensing Expo 2018 from May 22nd to May 24th 2018 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. “We were invited to meet up with potential sponsors, and network with likeminded individuals.”
Whether or not the convention brings on new sponsors, or new capital, Johnson envisions a bright future ahead for his invention. “There is a storm coming— a shift in the market—when it comes to how we communicate both face-to-face and with technology. But no matter what changes, communication is always more powerful when you can see who you’re communicating with, or better, when you see the world from their point of view.”