3D Hubs was voted as the most important Dutch startup company of the year in Holland's most prestigious startup awards, Sprout Challenger 50. After successfully pitching to the jury, we learned that they respected our bold pivot from consumer 3D printing to B2B manufacturing, as well as our determination to make it work and our openness about the challenges we had to overcome.
Immediately after co-founders Brian Garret and Filemon Schöffer received the award, Sprout editors Maarten Keswiel and Jelmer Luimstra spoke to the two entrepreneurs. You can read the original interview here [in Dutch]. Below are some of the exerts of that conversation.
What makes you a challenger?
Garret: "Manufacturing has been around for a long time, and happened in a slow, offline way: with old-fashioned calls and sending e-mails for price quotes. It is one of the last major industries that has not yet been disrupted by technology."
Suppose you had not made the pivot, would it have been the end of the exercise for 3D Hubs?
Garret: "Yes, I think so. If you get funding from venture capital, you cannot turn into a lifestyle business, profitable but without growth. That was not an option for us, but we did not want it. If we haven't made the pivot, then we would have to lay off all our staff - apart of maybe ten people - and then try that way. "
How did you manage to make this turn?
Schöffer: "I remember that we were at a manufacturing event and parts were pressed in our hands from different production techniques. When we were weighing those product lines of companies, we thought: actually we have to offer that entire portfolio. Somewhere in the back of our minds we knew that, but it came back when the growth of 3D printing was not as good as we expected. Then you were held over a cliff. And though: 'Okay, we have to switch now'."