It takes a special kind of crazy to be willing to spend seven months traveling around, not sure where you’re going to sleep at night, with no consistency or solid plan. Even more so when it’s in a crammed SUV and sleeping in a smelly tent all in the name of promoting Canada’s first algae-based food product. At Algi, we’re no strangers to crazy. We’re building something brand new in a way that has never been done before, so we need to be a little crazy, extremely ambitious, and honestly, just a bit naive. Building the Algi brand and promoting our introductory product, the IMPACT Bar, is a challenge unlike any we’ve ever faced but thankfully we have some pretty incredible tools helping us capture, share, and promote our story.
Our journey would not have been possible without Panasonic LUMIX and the phenomenal storytelling tools they build. LUMIX has been alongside us from the start; back in 2019 we were just two naive students with an ambitious plan of revolutionizing the food landscape with algae.
Who are we:
Algi is the first company creating delicious, purpose driven food products centered around algae. Founded by two students with a shared passion for food and sustainability, Alessandra and Devon, set out to create food with an impact. Our introductory product is the IMPACT Bar, an endurance bar made with 6-7 clean, whole food ingredients. The IMPACT Bar is only the first product in a long line of consumer food products currently being developed. As a brand, our mission is to tackle the growing food and sustainability crisis through the innovation and creation of sustainable, great tasting, and nutritious food products made with algae.
Left: the first mass produced version of the IMPACT Bar. Taken on the GH5 with a LUMIX 20mm lens.
Right: An early version of the IMPACT Bar, taken on a frozen Johnson Lake in Banff, Alberta. Taken on the GH5 with a Leica 12-60mm lens.
Our introduction to LUMIX
Devon will take over the story from here.
I’ve been passionate about photography and videography since my early teenage years. As an avid adventure sport enthusiast and athlete, I was inspired to delve into the world of adventure videography. Many of my early video editing skills, like understanding frame rates, the necessity of good lighting, shot set up and more, came from playing around with GoPros. Filming myself and my friends mountain bike, surf, ski, and more provided a fun, creative outlet.
My love for photography didn’t take off until my second year of university, when I joined a friend on a product photoshoot in Banff. I brought my parents' old D700 to the shoot and intently listened as my friend broke down shutter, aperture, and ISO functions. I was hooked, but at the time I didn’t realize the effect this passion for content creation would have on my life.
In 2017, after two years of learning everything possible with the old D700, I knew I needed more–I needed to get better at video, take better photos, and invest in new lenses. After six months of deliberation, I decided to purchase the brand new GH5 and kit 12-60mm lens. Buying my first professional camera was not an easy decision, the market was saturated with many amazing offerings from Sony, Canon, and Nikon, to name a few. However, none compared to the GH5 in video capabilities, especially at the price I was willing to pay. This is one of the reasons I love LUMIX so much: their cameras offer tremendous value for money.
My GH5 was put to the test right from the start as a travel camera. In the fall of 2017, just months after purchasing the new system, I moved to Antibes in the South of France to study for an exchange semester. The freedom of exchange and the inspiration of Europe provided the perfect environment to improve my photography and videography skills. In these four months, I learned everything about the GH5’s photo and video capabilities. Like many young filmmakers, I may have abused the GH5s incredible variable frame rate (VFR) functionality. Videos like this: 5 Days in Switzerland showcase the power of the GH5s video capabilities and also my lack of storytelling and editing skills. Like all content creators, my early work offered many learning opportunities, much of which would come in handy when developing content for Algi.
Below are some of my favourite photos from exchange. All were taken with the GH5 about 6 months after purchasing the camera.
Exchange was an amazing opportunity to test out the versatility of the GH5. From sunsets, landscapes, architecture, and people–I was able to shoot everything with ease.
Prior to starting Algi in 2019, I spent time improving my photo and video competency. Paid and unpaid weddings, outdoor and adventure shoots, and travel content were some of the things I worked on. Throughout these years, my passion for content creation exploded. I brought the GH5 everywhere; I loved the versatility of the camera–it truly was a do-all, go-everywhere machine.
Why I love Lumix
Plain and simple, there is no other camera brand I can think of that would give us the versatility needed to create the necessary variety of content needed to build our brand. As a young brand with few resources, LUMIX cameras like the GH5 and now GH6 have helped us to tell our story, take product photos, and capture the emotional ups and downs of starting an innovative food company. We shot our first video pitches, before we had a name for Algi in the summer of 2019, with the legendary GH5. And we are now telling some of our most complex, emotional, and challenging stories with the next-level GH6.
Above all, the value of LUMIX camera systems stands out. Both the GH5 and the GH6 offered immense storytelling power in versatile and budget-friendly formats. This is especially useful for us as entrepreneurs, where every dollar makes a difference and we spend much of our time bootstrapping and cutting corners to save money. However, the price-point isn’t the only motivator in purchasing a LUMIX camera. The quality and functionality of these machines makes them phenomenal assets to Algi. Everything from high-level commercials to quick snaps for social media is made easy with these G Series cameras. They travel well, feel great in our hands, and they offer the perfect amount of customizability without excess confusion.
What the Algi Team did this summer
Building a consumer food brand is really hard. It takes a tremendous amount of time, patience, consistency, and even failure in order to be successful. Add the educational component required to build an algae-focused food company, and the odds of success are even more scant. From the start, we knew we needed to build this brand using guerrilla marketing tactics, high quality stories, and content that stood out amongst the clutter. Our strategy for this was simple: go on an epic seven-month road trip across Western Canada promoting, selling, and sampling our first product, the IMPACT Bar. For obvious reasons, we decided to call this the IMPACT Tour. This adventure would test our abilities as friends and as founders. It would require near-constant work, few days off, challenging sleeping environments, little comfort, but a whole lot of fun!
Our trip was split into four sections:
April - early June: The West Coast and Vancouver Island
Mid June - mid July: Central British Columbia
Mid July - late August: Alberta
September - October: Back to the West Coast (& Cranbrook, BC)
In each of these sections, we sponsored bike and running races, where we gave out samples and provided on-course IMPACT Bars, and supported our new retail stores through in-store sampling initiatives and guerrilla marketing activities. This summer, we also challenged ourselves to produce one weekly vlog from April until late September; we mostly accomplished this. To check out our IMPACT Tour summer vlogs, click here.
This summer was filled with many incredible adventures, too many to explore in one blog post. So, to keep things simple below is a breakdown of our favourite experiences throughout the IMPACT Tour, our favourite photos and videos, and our favourite failures.
In September of 2021, just two weeks after launching the IMPACT Bar we sponsored our first bike race. The Fernie Gravel Grind is a three days gravel festival in the small mountain town of Fernie, British Columbia. We had a great time at this event, despite the fact that it poured rain and sleet the entire time we were there. Despite this, we knew this event would be one of the highlights of our IMPACT Tour in 2022.
The 2022 Fernie Gravel Grind took place at the end of June in the heat of the summer. The stage was set for a perfect weekend of bike racing, IMPACT Bar sampling, and lots of fun! The GH5 was the perfect tool to capture the atmosphere at this event. Our VLOG from this event can be found here. This event required us to be on our toes at all times: giving out IMPACT Bars, taking photos of the atmosphere, talking about the bar, and capturing all the video we could. Being able to go from manual photo mode to our various custom video modes made the process of getting content seamless.
The weekend began with an exposition on Friday evening. The expo offered good customer testimonial opportunities on the IMPACT Bar. We used the GH5 and a Rode VideoMic Pro to capture lots of great things riders were saying about the bar. These testimonials are tremendously valuable for marketing material on social and web. Our go-to settings to capture these testimonials are: NAT, MOV, 4K 150M, LongGOP 422/10, at 23.98p.
The remainder of the weekend was spent giving out on-course IMPACT Bars at one of the three designated “stoke stations”. We were located at the start line-finish station which gave us an opportunity to capture content from both the beginning and end of the race. Every stoke station had a theme, our station was space themed, so we were given the unique opportunity to give out IMPACT Bars and shoot content while wearing inflatable alien costumes. This was an entertaining, albeit hot, experience. Our go-to settings during this section of the weekend were FHD 180/23.98p and 4K 100M 60/23.98p. The VFR settings on the GH5 are perfect for capturing the excitement of a bike race with buttery smooth detail.
Some of our favourite photos from the 2022 Fernie Gravel Grind are below.
Left: The Fernie Gravel Grind has an amazing showcase on Friday night in the middle of downtown Fernie. This was an awesome opportunity to talk about the IMPACT Bar, meet people, and take photos with the GH5.
Right: Part of the Fernie Gravel Grind was supporting aid stations (stoke stations). Each stoke station had a specific theme, ours was space. So, we took this opportunity to dress up as aliens and give out IMPACT Bars! Taken on the GH5.
Canmore is our home base. The first two stores to take a chance on two young, naive food entrepreneurs and sell the IMPACT Bars are in Canmore, and many of our first fans live there. Much of our plans for the IMPACT Tour focused on the West Coast and central British Columbia, so whenever we were in Canmore we knew we had to work hard to promote Algi and the bars. Thus, we made it our mission in July to connect with the Canmore community as much as possible through sanctioned, and unsanctioned, sampling. We started by connecting with the stores listing the IMPACT Bars in town and scheduling sampling sessions with them. We also booked a few days at the Canmore Farmers’ Market which allowed us to talk to our regular customers. More daring, we began with some guerilla sampling sessions: bringing our flag and table to local hiking and biking trails, giving out samples, and talking about us and the bar. However, we received a few hefty threats by those who didn’t want us promoting our product without a permit. Oops! So, like other rule-breaking entrepreneurs, we decided to hike or bike deep into these trail networks–well out of the way of anyone with authority.
Some of our best interactions with potential customers occurred during these impromptu guerrilla sampling events. Our favourite photos of our sampling initiatives in Canmore and area are below.
We also filmed our first commercial in Canmore during the month of July. This commercial was shot entirely on the GH5 with a Rode VideoMic Pro (we didn’t have another mic available, we made it work). Please excuse our acting. This was also our intern’s, Kaitlin, first time filming anything like this.
Left: This photo was taken 15 minutes before we were kicked out of and threatened with a fine for sampling in the Provincial Park. Entrepreneurship sucks sometimes. Taken on the GH5.
Right: While in Canmore, we filmed our first commercial (first photo)--we sat in a lake in lawn chairs and talked about Algi and the IMPACT Bar. This was an awesome opportunity for Alessa and I to refine our acting skills, and gave our intern, Kaitlin, an opportunity to use the GH5 for video.
Tofino is a place unlike any other. We have a deep love for this wild yet calming corner of Canada. Pristine coastlines with epic waves, generous people, and limitless amounts of adventure. We were in Tofino twice during the IMPACT Tour, once in mid-May and once in mid-September. Both times were incredible but we’re going to talk about the September period because of two things: the waves were better and we finally got to test out our newly purchased GH6. And oh my, was it a treat!
We’ve been LUMIX users for our entire content journey, so can’t compare the new GH6 to other camera brands. However, we know that this is the only camera you need. In the constantly challenging lightning conditions of Tofino this camera stepped up to the plate and hit it home! From the crisp and moody mornings to the mesmerizing sunsets, we were able to capture incredible detail of the atmosphere, the IMPACT Bar, and ourselves. Some of the standout features of the camera for this trip was the new 120FPS 4K VFR and the boosted 100MP images, which were perfect to capture the Tofino landscape in incredible detail.
The reason we decided to add this Tofino trip to our highlights was because of the GH6. Spending time in Tofino is always a treat, but getting to spend it with a brand new camera with a near-limitless amount of incredible features is something else. Many of the places we visited this summer were beautiful, but few were visited with the GH6. This fact alone, made Tofino in September a highlight of not only the summer but of our entire entrepreneurial journey thus far.
Our second trip to Tofino was our first opportunity to test out the brand new GH6! This thing is an absolute beast! Sunsets, bright light, action shots, and low light were some of the environments we shot in–the GH6 had no issue shooting photo and video in these diverse situations.
Our journey as content creators, innovators, and entrepreneurs is just getting started. At the beginning of the IMPACT Tour, we were selling in just two stores in our home base. Today, after seven hard months of living in a tent, traveling thousands of kilometers, 18 weekly vlogs, and giving out over 25,000 samples, we're proud of our growth to 51 stores. As we progress into the slower winter months, we will be working on new flavours and new products to diversify our food portfolio. We will also spend more time in front of and behind the camera, working to showcase what we’re building and why it matters. And as always, LUMIX will be right along with us, helping us produce the stories that make us stand out.