“When A Paradigm Shifts, everyone gores back to zero. Your past success guarentees nothing when a paradigm shift. In fact, your past success may block you from seeing the future.”- Joel Barker

Kodak was our first big name sponsor.

Around 1997, my company, RealTown’s InternetCrusade, got a contract from Kodak to socialize the concept of digital imaging and digital cameras to a world that was accustomed to film, and waiting at least a week or so to see the results of one’s photographic efforts.

In 1997, the leadership at Kodak was not convinced that digital was the future. It might have been the old “Paradigm Blindness” concept. The stronger you are in your business, the harder it is for you to see the future. It seems like that is exactly what happened to Kodak. With its marketing strength and position in the world of photography, Kodak was well placed to dominate the photography paradigm shift to the world of digital imaging. But Kodak had tons of patents around things like photographic paper, ink and color ink…and the cameras made to deploy the Kodak method or paradigm of image capture and display. Kodak was too invested in its past and present and not invested enough in its future.

Because of the resistance of management to this new type of photography, Brad Miller, the Kodak sales rep assigned to the real estate industry, had a hard time procuring the necessary budget to introduce this new concept of photography to an opportunity as large and as fractured as the real estate industry.

With Brad’s help, a meeting was set up at the Kodak Headquarters in Rochester. In addition to a few senior management people, in attendance was Brad, Mike Barnett (one of my partners) and myself. We came away with a contract that included no cash compensation to us, but lots of digital cameras, which we distributed across the US and Canada.

We were doing hundreds of technology education events across the US and Canada to real estate audiences. Kodak agreed to provide us, each month two of the latest model Kodak digital cameras, plus 1 additional camera each month, for every event we did with more than 100 people in attendance. At the time, we were doing about 150 events per year. The cameras were all used as door prizes for the drawings we held at each event, which helped us create a potential customer database.

We were also authorized to use the Kodak “Flying K” on our marketing pieces, which was very exciting for our small company. Kodak was legendary. In my family, my grand father and my father always had the latest movie cameras from Kodak.

Unfortunately, it was too little to truly have an impact…but we had fun giving those cameras away, and the recipients loved them!

But Kodak really did know what the future was going to be like…watch this video, it was a joke once, but it was amazingly precient for 1998!