After success on Kickstarter, a 3D printing CEO started his own crowdfunding platform

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Technical.ly Baltimore | By Stephen Babcock | June 28, 2017

M3D is launching a new 3D printer called the Promega, and they’re turning to crowdfunding to help with its release.

It’s a familiar approach for a company who had three prior projects debut on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, but this time is a little different.

See: Too big to flop: Inside Indiegogo's plan to circumvent crowdfunding failures

That’s because the crowdfunding platform was started by the company.

CEO Michael Armani and several team members at the Fulton-based company are running FitForLaunch. The Promega is one of several products that launched on the site earlier this month. Striking out on their own is a bold move, especially for a company that had one of the all-time best campaigns on Kickstarter.

But the success also provided insight about how crowdfunding could be improved. M3D’s VP of Sales and Operations Katherine Otte said other platforms essentially function as a “flash deal site” that stops being a source of deals after the campaign ends. We’ve also heard that marketing is the true value.

Along with their success, M3D also utilized crowdfunding in a unique way. Backers received one of the company’s 3D printers as a reward for their pledge, meaning they were essentially pre-ordering through Kickstarter. With that in mind, Armani looked to create a platform that could be a sustainable source of sales. The Promega is a large 3D printer targeting the commercial market, which is a difference from previous printers that were aiming for consumers. Being a project that’s described as “overengineered,” the Promega is designed so new features are rolled out during the campaign.

See Also: What 10,000 Kickstarter projects reveal about Canada's entrepreneurs

“We wanted steady sales so we created a platform where we could slowly increase the price as we revealed new product details – and it’s working perfectly, sales are steady and predictable, and we have control over them,”

There are a few other features with FitforLaunch. Companies get paid daily rather than weeks after their campaign closes. Trust was also a big issue, as stories of failure and fraud started to show up in the 3D printing world. The platform guarantees that backers who put money down for a product will receive it within 12 months. In a case where a company shuts down, FitForLaunch may even complete manufacturing of a product that is not their own.

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The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, leadership, support, and networking opportunities to over 1500+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding industry in Canada. Learn more at www.ncfacanada.org.

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