StartUs Presents: Printivate

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This edition of StartUs Presents features Adrian Muresan, CEO of Printivate, a platform that optimizes models for 3D printing. Get all the insights here!

Describe Printivate in 50 words or less.

Printivate is an SaaS platform that helps people and organizations save time and money in additive manufacturing. We provide services that optimize 3D models for 3D printing. Our service is fully automatic and can be easily integrated into any 3D printing workflow.

Why did you decide to pursue your own dreams rather than someone else’s?

Inventors, creators and tinkers were always an inspiration for me, and ever since I was small I liked building things. The projects kept getting bigger and more ambitious. This eventually led to the point where turning one of my personal projects into an actual product felt like the natural thing to do. In the last few years I discovered the various communities built around entrepreneurship and startups in general, which gave me the necessary impulse to eventually create Printivate.

7 years from now: How did your startup change the world?

A future where every household will own a 3D printer is becoming more aligned with the current trends in the field. Right now it might be difficult to see the day-to-day uses that a 3D printer might offer. But there are many. We can replace broken parts, customize the objects that we use on a day-to-day basis, but more importantly we can bring new creations to life. Ultimately a 3D printer is a creativity tool. By making additive manufacturing faster and cheaper, we are enabling its potential as a world-changing manufacturing process.

In what ways do you measure your success and how do you make sure you don’t lose track?

We have a plan with specific goals in mind and ways of reaching them. The plan changes, of course, as we learn more about our market and our customers, and actually the plan is only a means to an end. In the end, true success is building something useful, something that brings value to a group of people. Customer satisfaction and product quality are our measures of success.

Describe your typical working day from coming to the office to leaving it.

We’re a distributed team, but we work in the same timezone, so there is a considerable daily activity overlap, which is great for instant synchronization. Every day starts with our collaborative work platform and an individual agenda. Given that we are a small team, each individual plays multiple roles, which makes working here every day a lot more diverse and interesting. In a typical work day one person could do anything from product development to preparing material for a marketing campaign to coding. An interesting consequence of this style of working is that each single person gets exposure to new work areas, which can be developed over time into new competencies.

Already pivoted? Did customers use the 3D models optimizer like you imagined it in the beginning?

Of course they didn’t! In fact, we’ve changed the whole business model a few times as we got more information from the market. As an example, we pivoted the way we offer our product as a result of talking to customers. It became clear that integration into existing customer workflows was crucial, so we went from a standalone software application to an SaaS platform with plugins for client workflows.

Bootstrapped or financed: What fuels your startup now and what will in the future?

We are a bootstrapped startup and until now this has worked well for us, as we did not have high costs in the beginning. We’re not set on continuing as a bootstrapped company though. If or when we reach a point where an outside investment would help scale our business we will definitely consider seeking investment.

With ferocious competition and a booming trend to build new companies: How do you make sure you don’t get lost in the shuffle?

In a few words, by continuously improving our product and monitoring customer satisfaction in order to make sure that it is in accordance with our plan. We believe in data driven iterations and are applying this technique anywhere we can, ranging from our product to our business as a whole.

We also keep up-to-date with the 3D printing market as a whole and with competition especially, which gives us insights into what the future trends will be and how we can plan to accommodate them.

What do you look for in team members?

We want to work with people who are like us: motivated, open and wanting to build great products. Working in a startup has its ups and downs, so an ability to focus on the bigger picture becomes important, as does an optimistic personality. Interest in the field of 3D printing is always a plus, especially since this field is still in its infancy. This means that there will be a lot of changes to come and an ability to adapt to those changes is a good thing to have.

Why would a talent join your team?

We offer the opportunity to work on an innovative product that is based on the state of the art in research on 3D model processing. We write our own algorithms from scratch and we’re proud of them. Being a small team, our work environment is highly dynamic and we encourage the voluntary development of new skills.

What was your most memorable moment so far?

Printivate began a couple of years ago as a 3D model processing library, which for me was a personal project at the time. I remember showing one of the processing results to a friend of mine and he told me, “You know, this project of yours might actually be useful for 3D printing.” My reaction was, “… what is 3D printing?” Shortly after, I started reading about 3D printing and thinking about what processing operations could be useful for it. As it turns out, most of my initial ideas were not very useful, but there were a few that did survive a reality check and they were the basis of Printivate. Later, Printivate was accepted in the Spherik Accelerator program in Cluj-Napoca which was a first contact with reality and a form of validation for us.

What advice would you give fellow founders for their startup?

Planning and talking to customers.

The best advice that I got in my professional development is “Plan it or it won’t happen.” If you have an actionable plan on reaching an objective, then you’re already halfway there. I now believe that planning is an essential tool for success.

For a startup, talking to potential customers is incredibly valuable. This will save a lot of time in building something that no one wants. Overall it’s the best startup advice that I’ve got.


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