/ Documentary

Jigabot: A Utah Startup Spearheading the Robotics Revolution

We know that AIMe will help everyone — from amateurs to professionals — nail those difficult but amazing shots each and every time.

More than two years ago, when Donna Root and Rick Stout first decided to form a business partnership, founding Jigabot wasn’t exactly what they had in mind. The two had initially set out to produce and direct a remake of the movie “Silas Marner” — a film based on a George Eliot novel.

“As we were talking about making this movie and the money it would take to actually make it happen, I asked Rick how we were doing it on such a low budget,” said Root. “And he talked to me about this queue of products that he had and I said, ‘Rick, why aren’t we doing that?’ So we just kind of stopped and realigned and looked at where we were, what we were doing, and decided that this was a better market for us.”

Jigabot officially debuted AIMe — an auto-tracking camera mount that uses patent-pending technology to provide a hands-free way of keeping a subject perfectly framed — at the beginning of January 2014 at the International Consumer Electronics Show. Here’s a video of Root talking about AIMe at CES:

At the end of the tradeshow, AIMe was named to Videomaker’s “Best of CES 2014” list and won the publication’s “Most Innovative Product Award.”

“It was lovely because we had no idea,” said Root. “There are awards at CES that you can apply for, but this isn’t one of them. To win “Best of CES” in a venue where you have over 2 million square feet of vendors was fun and not expected.”

Prior to debuting at CES, Jigabot had been, for the most part, intentionally flying under the radar as they worked through the research and development phase of the process. Last year, the company did manage to win Grow America’s “Top Startup Company” and “Crowd Favorite” awards, but they did almost nothing to promote their brand up until the start of this month.

“We have been in total stealth mode for the last 18 months,” said Root. “We haven’t had links to our website, so you couldn’t really find us. It’s another reason why the CES award was such a big deal for us; because no one knew anything about us before last week. Just because of our debut last week, we have the potential for international distribution.”

AIMe, packaged with an EmIT sensor, will be available at www.jigabot.com for $299 in June 2014. Root refers to the first release of AIMe as “the soccer mom version.”

“The thing that AIMe does that no one else can do is she’s just a miniature cameraman. And in the soccer mom space — which I am in, so I love — it solves a huge problem because I now get to be present for every performance. Every football game, every basketball game. I now get to applaud and interact with my son rather than being the designated photographer. So that’s exciting for me.”

Jigabot plans to market AIMe through both retail outlets like Best Buy as well as through their website.

“We have so many possibilities,” said Root. “If we had just gone to CES for distribution channels alone it was a huge success for us.”

Jigabot won $25,000 by winning Grow America’s competition, but the company is keeping quiet about the amount of venture funding they’ve managed to raise to this point. Stout recently claimed Jigabot had raised capital from a couple of “prominent VCs,” but he was unwilling to disclose any dollar amounts.

“We are blessed to not have problems with funding,” said Root.

This isn’t Root’s first time starting a successful company. She’s also the owner of an online diamond company, and she runs a personal and business development company that has allowed her to travel across the world, speaking to entrepreneurs.

“I believe in the ‘Good to Great’ model,” said Root. “The ‘first who, then what’ theory of doing business. My advice is to always work with people that are smarter than you.

“Process is another important aspect of starting a business. I think so many young entrepreneurs — and I mean young as in the companies they’re starting, not young in age — make a mistake of having a target without really having a process. And it’s a very different thing. You see so many people who think that having a target and an idea is enough without having a process, and it’s just not.”

As for Jigabot, the good press continues to flow in as the startup inches closer to their offical product-launch date. The company recently presented their product at the Sundance Film Festival where Sundance Institute co-founder Sterling Van Wagenen said, “AIMe is the star of the Sundance Film Festival 2014. For the past 30 years, the Sundance Film Festival has been home to artists with interesting stories to tell. And Jigabot’s AIMe makes it even easier for independent filmmakers to craft their stories on a small budget — which is perfectly in line with the spirit of Sundance.”

“It is exciting for Jigabot to unveil AIMe to filmmakers at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival,” said Stout. “Our company was founded by professional filmmakers with a passion for art and technology. And we know that AIMe will help everyone — from amateurs to professionals — nail those difficult but amazing shots each and every time.”

Jigabot is spearheading the Robotics Revolution by allowing independent filmmakers to get more done for less, and letting parents be more present when filming their child’s events. It’s a company and a product with the potential for massive growth.

“I love that we solve a problem for conscious living,” said Root.

Published 1/27/2014