Interview With Ethan Baehrend
Describe your product or service:
“We create highly capable 3D printers, capable of encompassing the separated functions of an entire suite of 8+ specialty printers in one for significantly less.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“We want to empower people's ability to accessibly create prototypes and produce products without being confined to the constraints of other 3D printers or manufacturing tools.”
How are you funded? I.e. type of funding, number of funding rounds, total funding amount.
“We're currently wrapping up our second round of funding. Once closed, we'll have raised $535,000 total.”
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them (I.e. co-founders, freelancers, etc.)
“Speaking in terms of an employee sheet, until the end of this round, it will have been a one-man show. But there's multiple active entities within the company and an entire network of people who support the company and help regularly.”
How did you come up with and validate your startup idea? Tell us the story!
“My current frustrations with the 3D Printing industry sparked the founding of Creative 3D Technologies! I was running a different business prior to Creative 3D, where my team and I would refurbish 3D printers, upgrade their functions, and sell the now more capable printers for less straight to customers. Doing this for about five years, studying the rise and fall of the competition, personally being in 100+ different 3D printers, and designing improvements gave me a full cycle of experience to want to do better. I knew there were lots of parts that I couldn't make without using multiple specialty 3D printers and gluing the final products together, and overall, I wanted more capable machines. So, I made the first proof of concept that would later become my company's first product. From there, I realized I could help others from encountering my same frustrations with printers and the industry by doing it myself, and I had the experience to do so, so I did!”
How did you come up with your startup's name? Did you have other names you considered?
“Our pre-seed funder helped establish our name!”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“I've always been entrepreneurial in nature, there's many examples growing up where I'd take something I was interested in or excited about and turn it into something profitable. My founding Creative 3D Technologies was an evolution of that same path! It's not something I've given much thought to, but it's something I've naturally kept coming back to. I suppose being an entrepreneur and a leader has always been in me.”
Did you encounter any roadblocks when launching your startup? If so, what were they and what did you do to solve them?
“Oh, of course! I've encountered issues on both the business and developmental sides of the business. I can't go into much detail, but my best advice for others would be to surround yourself with people who can provide valuable advice. Don't be afraid to admit when you're not proficient at something and don't be afraid to delegate. If you fill in those areas where you're uneducated or not the best, you'll learn and improve your business.”
Who is your target market? How did you establish the right market for your startup?
“For my startup, this was fairly simple. We're creating 3D printers, so the 3D printing marketplace is our market. Then we let the marketplace get hands-on with our product and did some light advertising to verify and quantify our market fit.”
What's your marketing strategy?
“It's pretty simple and straightforward, Trade shows, PR, ads, etc. But for each of those, we take unique approaches with what we advertise. We create and promote statement pieces that the competition would struggle to produce.”
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
“Trade shows! Letting customers get hands-on with products and see why they should want it themselves along with showing statement pieces.”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“Sales per month, of both the printers and the accessories that go along with it.”
What's your favorite startup book and podcast?
“I've been a fan of Technori ever since I was featured on it!”
Is there a tool, app, or resource that you swear by to help run your startup?
“I'm a big fan of the Autodeck suite of products! I enjoy the work flow on them for designing and testing products and couldn't have gotten here without them!”
What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?
“I'm very surprised by how supportive and interconnected the startup communities are once you actually make an effort to join them. I believe the startup scene is as beneficial as you make it, if you come in with a positive attitude and make an effort, people will recognize that and help.”
How do you achieve work/life balance as a founder?
“That was honestly one of the hardest aspects of the developmental journey. I slept an Everyman's cycle of four hours per night plus two 30 minute incremental naps within the day. It was awful to get used to, but once I did, I was able to achieve what I needed to. Though I wouldn't recommend that to anyone else unless you believe what you're doing is your genuine passion. If it is, then I fully believe that your work is also part of your free time since [your free time] would be used doing the same thing anyway! So my advice would be to pursue something that's a true passion to that level. If you're not pursuing something that you're that level of passionate about, then have a strict schedule of days you have off and integrate into your city, so there's always something exciting to draw you away from work.”
What is a strategy you use to stay productive and focused?
“I believe in keeping all aspects of myself maintained to keep my mind and focus sharp. I work out five times a week for two hours a day, I proportion my food well and eat good foods, and I stimulate my mind by learning new things through a variety of methods. Doing this lets me better focus on work.”
Did you have to develop any habits that helped lead you to success? If so, what are they?
“As I mentioned in the last question, I think a healthy body and mind help significantly. When I dropped weight from working out, my confidence shot up, and that drastically helped me in networking and presenting my company. If I didn't find that better physical balance for myself, then I certainly wouldn't be where I am now.”
What was your first job and what did it teach you?
“I've done a lot of things from a young age that paid me and could be considered a job if I were to pursue them at my age now. With that said, I think the first age where you could consider my small hustles a job would be when I was building custom computers for my community. I learned the joys of making my own schedule and the rudimentary basics of running a business like sourcing hardware, acquiring customers, and keeping them satisfied.”
More on Creative 3D Technologies
We were fortunate enough to hear some valuable insights during our interview with Ethan Baehrend of Creative 3D Technologies that will inspire, motivate, and teach aspiring and established entrepreneurs alike.
We asked Ethan Baehrend, founder of Creative 3D Technologies, to share the most impactful ways to support their startup, and this is what they had to say.