Daniel Arroyo is very clear. Only through entrepreneurship has managed to enjoy what he really likes. In his case, from San Diego building software for the startup 3DaGoGo, a marketplace in commitment stage for proven to print 3D designs. Daniel occasionally blogs at danielarroyo.net.
Describe 3DaGoGo in under 50 words
3DaGoGo simplifies the complex world of 3D printing software into a simple 1-click-print experience, making it easy for anyone to print an object on a 3D printer from any computer or mobile device.
Tell us the 3DaGoGo story. How and why was this project born?
3DaGoGo was born out of frustration when Drew (our CEO) wanted to create a customizable medical device using 3D Printing technology. We saw both the potential and challenges of this amazing technology and started working on solving the problem of failed prints by creating a marketplace of “proven-to-print” designs. It soon became clear to us that the problem had to be tackled at its core: The overly complicated software chain used to get a design into the printer.
We are now part of the Betaspring technology accelerator building a software platform that simplifies this software from over 120 settings into 3 (printer, material & quality) and allows 1-click-printing over the internet with a beautiful user interface.
Everybody is crazy with 3D. How does 3DaGoDo see 3D revolution? Where do you see many opportunities for startups?
Disney expects a 3D Printer in every home in about 10 years. We believe it should be sooner. While not everything will be manufactured at home, we see a future where a big portion of the things we use are going to come to us in the form of digital files that can be brought to life by a 3D printer. A world in which making items that are highly customized is only a few clicks away. Toys and replacement parts will be available for sale in online storefronts for under $5 in digital format and with options to customize them.
While it is still a bit early to start building solutions for the general consumer in this space, the infrastructure land grab has already started. We see huge opportunities for innovative startups with middleware or infrastructure software in marketplaces, 3D file creation tools, 3D design processing and validation as well as printer drivers.
The hardware opportunities abound as well. These machines should be made simpler to use with less maintenance, more durability and better resolution. There are plenty of innovation to be made in these areas. Also bringing other 3D printing technologies like powder-based printers to the under $1,000 is something we’re looking forward to as well.
What is the most challenging part of building 3DaGoGo?
We are working with highly sophisticated and complicated software while at the same time offering an extremely simple user interface. Making it simple for the user, always means making it 3 times harder for us. There are plenty of product discussions where the easiest way out would be to just make it a little harder for the user so that we can build faster and with less complications. We strive to avoid making these trade-offs and in almost every case choose to make harder on ourselves instead.
What technologies have you used to build 3DaGoDo? What was technically the most challenging part of developing 3DaGoGo?
It’s a broad range as we use a few open source projects as a base for our efforts. Most of our web and api server code is written in PHP accelerated by the Phalcon framework. We provide slicing capabilities using Slic3r which uses Perl. Our printer controller interface is built in Python since OctoPrint used that and we’re based on it.
Thus far the most technically challenging part has been to make Slic3r reliably and scalably run in the cloud. This was a software program made to run on a computer and making it run on a sever that can process 1000s of requests was not an easy task.
Are you receiving the support of any mentor for your startup? If so, how is the relationship with him/her?
We are part of Betaspring, a technology accelerator in the US and have also graduated from SpringBoard Connect. We are receiving plenty of mentorship along the way.
In some cases advice is contradictory with our views or with other mentors. It’s the job of the team to take ALL advice into consideration, carefully think about it and respectfully discard what doesn’t make sense in the context of the team’s values and beliefs. In addition we’re in a complex and relatively unknown space, so often the advice is related to parallel industries or analogs and have to “translated” into our situation.
We have found great mentors and advisors that believe in our vision and the potential of our industry. The challenge is to narrow down the list of mentors and advisors to those that would enjoy and benefit from the relationship as much as we do.
What kind of partnerships are you achieving or building?
We’re working on partnerships with 3D Printer manufacturers. We see ourselves as the solution that would allow them to grow out of the current early adopter, super-hacker types that enjoy tinkering with open source software. The next wave of consumers that just want to experience this technology is patiently waiting for our solution. They don’t have the time or interest to spend whole weekend trying to figure out how to successfully print one object.
We want printer manufactures to focus on solving the hardware problems of 3D Printers while we help them delight their customers with software that is easy, beautiful and intuitive.
In addition, we’re forging deep relationships with the current open source community that has developed most of the software used today. We ourselves complementing their mission by adding a layer of simplicity to their offerings so that they can reach a previously unimaginable number of people.
You are based in San Diego, California. What’s the startup ecosystem like there?
It’s not Silicon Valley (nor does it need to be) but it’s growing and very vibrant. There are many new startups popping up in the downtown district. I have been involved in San Diego startups since early 2011 and I have seen tremendous growth. The entrepreneurial network is amazing, full of people willing to help, meet and discuss their ideas. However, the overall business community is still dominated by big corporation (mainly biotech) and capital is hard to come by.
If you could come back to the past, what would you do differently in your startup?
We’re still early and while we have done some mistakes, I don’t think that I would really would have wanted to do anything different as they have all taught us something and taken us to where we are. If anything, I wish we had started earlier, but that will always be the case.
Your big mistake?
3DaGoGo has yet to make it (and I’m sure it will). Nothing thus far as been a catastrophic mistake.
Personally, I wish I had started working in startups way earlier than I did. I have always been an entrepreneur though it took me a while to fully realize it. While going to college in Spain, I made software for Real Estate Agents, a web platform for movie theaters and accounting software as freelance. I then took an 11 year detour into the world of big tech corporations (Nokia, Qualcomm) only to return to what makes me happy in 2011.
What one piece of advice would you like to give to those who want to transform an idea into a business?
Start today, not tomorrow or next week. TODAY!
Start by telling everybody about your idea. Recruit cofounders, mentors and advisors. The more people you tell, the more real it becomes. Never forget that ideas don’t make a business, execution does. The sooner you get to the execution part, the sooner you’ll know if you idea is any good.
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