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Catching up with Hansnap founder Justis Earle

Catching up with Hansnap founder Justis Earle

By Joel Hersch 

Justis Earle—the local founder of a camera-stabilizing wrist strap known as “Hansnap”—thinks of himself as a longtime “troublemaker,” ever since he was young. But, in his view, that label doesn’t always add up to something problematic. Sometimes, it’s about creativity; not being afraid to march to the beat of one’s own proverbial drum, an eagerness to color outside the lines, and a devotion to throwing rulebooks out of windows whenever possible. 

“I have always had a hard time following guidelines—sometimes it's because I think the guidelines are dumb, and sometimes it's because I legitimately have a hard time following other people's details.” 

When Earle thinks of being a troublemaker, he interprets the term as “misguided entrepreneur,” someone who is determined for success but likely not very interested in being told how to get there.

Earle’s invention, the Hansnap product, is a backing plate and hand strap configuration that fits to any smartphone, allowing the user to shoot more controlled, steady video content while on the move. Or, in the case of Earle’s first moment of clarity for the device, when he was crowdsurfing over a metal concert in San Francisco and wishing he could document the experience without potentially losing his phone in the mosh pit below. 

Back in January of this year, Santa Cruz Works presented the second annual Titans of Tech event at the Dream Inn, featuring an assortment of Santa Cruz-based innovators and entrepreneurs, including Earle, who shared aspects of his own journey through entrepreneurship.

Back in 2015, when the Hansnap vision was still mostly confined to the drawing board, Earle had already taken one swing at a Kickstarter campaign that flopped. But the setback only drove him to push forward, and following a series of developments and a price reduction, a second fundraising campaign turned out even more successful than he’d anticipated. He raised a total of $13,600 (the goal was $10,000) with support from 268 backers.

Now, as Earle’s small company works toward building more awareness around the Hansnap wrist mount, they are also preparing for the launch of a new product—the Hansnap ring. The ring, which is meant to be worn on the index finder, functions as a remote control for a smart phone’s video, social media and music applications, connecting via Bluetooth. Hansnap is aiming for a back-to-school product launch in September. 

“I think the ring product that we are working on has a really great shot at becoming a household product and brand within a few years,” he says with optimism. “I think you'll see these fun little devices all across major retailers and adorning the fingers of all the most righteous celebs—hey, dream big, right?” 

As for the longterm vision, Earle says he’s all about “starting with the end in mind.” Because Santa Cruz has become an increasingly difficult city to afford to live in, he says creating financial success through the company is an important factor. 

“I look at my company like I would look at a product, meaning that I want to build it as an incredibly valuable and robust entity that someone would love to buy…That being said, I'm not trying to make a quick buck either. I love what we’re building and can only do this product and company because it's the way I enjoy spending my time.” 

Earle admits that patients is not his strongest suit, but he also recognizes it as one of the most important lessons he’s learned (and continues to learn) as an entrepreneur. 

“Important things often take a long time, he says. “I don’t like that part…[but] persistence is the one thing that separates predictable success from failure…If you’re willing to learn, adjust coarse appropriately, and refuse to give up, you will get somewhere that you want to be.” 


Joel Hersch 

Producer | Journalist