All the cool gadgets flying off the shelves this year might have one common thread with the same message – the future of technology is upon us. From smart watches to hover boards, technology predictions of the past have made leaps and bounds this year.
Here in Pasadena, New Matter is doing their part in the high-tech revolution by bringing 3D printing to the masses. New Matter’s CEO & Co-Founder Steve Schell and Marketing Director Vince Vanasin recently sat down with Innovate Pasadena for a Q&A to talk about the Mod-T printer, the hurdles and successes behind New Matter and what’s printing on their home printers. Great Scott! Read on for their 411.
What is New Matter’s story?
STEVE: New Matter was created to bring 3D printing to the masses. I see a future where 3D printers exist in our homes, offices, etc.
In recent years there has been a rapid evolution where technology continues to improve and costs have come down simultaneously while ease of use has changed dramatically. The original 3D home printers were not in the right price point, right size, etc. That’s where New Matter enters the story. In 2014, our team developed an interesting mechanical design with few components, and brought the overall cost down to $399 for a home 3D printer.
We launched a crowd-funding campaign to validate that there would be a product market. We raised $680,000 on Indiegogo, well in excess of our goal, and more importantly confirmed that a good-looking, affordable, quiet, easy to use printer would sell. Eighteen months later we are fulfilling obligations from our crowd-funding campaign and beginning to ship new orders through our website and retailers.
What was the biggest hurdle you faced in launching your company?
STEVE: One of the biggest challenges we faced was finding great talent. My employees are exceptionally important. There were many times we had to let positions go unfilled but felt passionately about finding the right individual, even if it took longer. That temporary pain was preferable over the long term pain of hiring the wrong person.
Fortunately, Southern California and Pasadena, in particular, has a talent rich pool. Between JPL, Caltech, ACCD and a fairly vibrant start-up scene I have access to a wide breath of expertise when I need to recruit. Not to mention, it’s a family friendly area so I can recruit and retain people with all levels of experience.
What is the best advice you ever received?
STEVE: Over the years I’ve received a lot of really good advice that I value tremendously. The one that stands out to me has to do with working and interacting with other people. When working with other people within the company, whatever that person is doing they believe they are doing it in the company’s best interest. This understanding changes the interpretation of how I see people approaching their jobs. I believe that my employees have the best of intentions and are trying to make the company a success as much as I am.
What’s the coolest app on your phone that you can’t live without?
STEVE: I have a lot of cool 3D design and scanning apps on my phone. My go-to apps are TRNIO and Sculpt App from Autodesk.
When I’m not doing my work, my app use is totally pragmatic. I use Mint to help manage household finances, etc.
What do you do to live a balanced life?
STEVE: I make it a priority to get home in the evenings. I don’t stay late and I model that behavior for my employees as well. I’m proud to say that it’s the norm for the New Matter work environment to maintain a healthy work life balance.
Oh, and I’m actually looking forward to El Nino this year so I can teach my kids to snowboard.
I assume you have a Mod-T printer at home. How do you use it and what do you print?
STEVE: I actually have a couple at home! When I’m not running prints for testing purposes I design things for my kids. All three of my kids are users of tinkercad. I let them design and print, lots of gifts for teachers and friends. We’ve printed 3D emoji’s, objects for their science fair projects, jack-o-lantern horns and cool kid stuff. We are always looking for opportunities to be creative with design using the Mod-T.
VINCE: I’ve got a Mod-T at home as well. When I brought the printer home we started out printing figurines for nieces and nephews and then moved on to more utilitarian projects like a custom phone stand. In no time at all, the question evolved from will you print something for me, to when can I get my Mod-T?
Last, but not least, tell me something unique about you. What am I not going to find on your LinkedIn profile?
VINCE: Steve has two full sleeve tattoos on both arms. The sleeves are becoming more colorful. It’s not entirely clear when he will be done with the sleeves or how far they’ll go. He’s definitely not a stuffy CEO. From my perspective, it makes working for him more fun.
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