3 LEGGED THING
3 Legged Thing:
An Interview with Danny Lenihan
Pixel Magazine speaks to 3 Legged Thing’s Chief Executive Officer, Danny Lenihan to get the low down on the company, their products and plans for the future
counterfold legs and a detachable monopod. Since this technology went off patent, there are tonnes of brands that have adopted it, but to me, that’s all they’ve done. You could line up the top ten tripod brands in the world, and put their flagship products side by side, stick gaffa tape over the branding, and you’d be hard pressed to identify which product is from which brand. I was frustrated with the products I had – I personally owned six tripods, each with different capabilities and intended uses, and it seemed to me that there was a gap in the market for a product which encapsulated multiple uses.
Legged Thing is a British Tripod Company, specializing in compact, stable and multi-functional tripod systems. 3LT is a small business, but strives to innovate in one of the most competitive industries. Pixel: You guys are widely recognised as “the rock and roll” brand of the photo industry. Was this intentional or something that has come naturally? Danny Lenihan: All we’ve really done is injected some realism into the industry. The fact that we are perceived as “rock and roll” is more to do with our slightly anti-establishment approach both to brand presentation, and product design. We are bold - people want you to cross the line occasionally; push boundaries and press buttons. Pixel: Tell us about 3LT’s journey. DL: What started as a pocket-money project has exploded into a multi-million pound global brand. Our first products were very much a mish-mash of ideas, and relatively unpolished. They were still very unique – we were the first brand to introduce colour as a feature, and the first to offer multiple section centre columns. Obviously we’ve grown since then – both mechanically and physically, and our mantra to adopt as much functionality as possible within our design process has proven to be the key to our growth. We took on investment back in early 2012, at which point we were really only selling to B&H and Adorama in New York, and Camera World in the UK, and the ensuing four years has seen expansion into over 1000 stores in 40 countries, and still growing. Pixel: How have things expanded since your inception in the shed from Stagsden? DL: At Photokina 2012 nobody knew who we were. At Photokina 2014 we had distributors from 22 countries actively seek us out to talk to us about distribution in their
Danny Lenihan, Chief Executive Officer
respective territories. At Photokina 2016, we had back-to-back meetings scheduled across six days, with some provision for walk-in enquiries, which far exceeded the previous years combined. We’re also seeing a lot more connectivity with other manufacturers. Pixel: What would you outline as your Key USP’s when compared to other leading brands in your space? DL: I think I’ll start to answer this with our two brand slogans: • We don’t make tripods. We make tripod systems. • Built to enable. Created to inspire. Those are the key elements of our brand success. We are constantly innovating in an arena, which has seen little innovation since Gitzo first introduced the Traveller back in 1983 (I think), with
Pixel: How should the dealer channel go about stocking 3LT products and what kind of support do you offer with regards to POS etc? DL: We tend to discourage big buy–ins. We prefer to start small and build as the relationship progresses. Being that we have a very small range compared to our competitors, it’s really easy for dealers to hold every sku for less than a couple of grand investment. We offer in store training, with our sales team, and sometimes I’ll do this, so the dealers and their staff get a unique insight into the products and why they are made the way they are, from the person that designed them. We are working on our first in-store solution at the moment, but we are mindful that floor space is scarce, so we are looking at alternative ways of getting the brand messages across. Pixel: What can we expect from 3LT as we rapidly head towards the end of 2016 and into 2017? DL: More of the same really. We’ve got our third incarnation of our budget line, Punks, coming to the market in early November, and that’s a really exciting launch for us. The pressure we’ve been under, as a brand, to bring out a product that is more price accessible, but still indicative of the unique styling and functionality of 3LT has been a big challenge, but we’ve done a great job of creating the right products.