Are you having trouble navigating and operating your 3D printer and software? Joining Tom and Tracy Hazzard today is Drew Taylor, the CEO and Founder of AstroPrint. Drew talks about 3D printing and solving the frustrations that everyone is having in the market. In this episode, learn how Drew made 3D printing easy and enjoyable for everyone and helped entice more people to join the 3D printing movement. Tom, Tracy, and Drew also discuss the constraints 3D printers have that limits their use and the inability and over-complication of the software available to produce quality 3D prints.
Listen to the podcast here:
3D Printing Apps Promote Ease Of Use With Drew Taylor Of AstroPrint
We decided to follow-up with someone we met at SoCal MakerCon.
We didn’t have enough time to get into depth about what they do and the company is AstroPrint.
The thing is I said this in the SoCal MakerCon interview with him that I was like, “It’s just apps and software.” It didn’t quite excite me, but it is exciting.
Now, that we’ve learned more about it, I agree with you. Drew Taylor is one of the founders of AstroPrint and we’ve had a good interview with him. Why don’t we go to that and then let’s talk about it more on the other side?
Drew, thank you so much for joining us on the show. It’s nice to be able to spend a little more detailed and quiet time with you. It was noisy when we were trying to talk to you at SoCal MakerCon. We’re glad to dive back in, get some more details and spend some more time with you.
Thanks for having me here. If I recall, all three of us or at least two of us had lost our voices that day.
That environment in a trade show is not a great environment for preserving your voice. Everybody’s talking over each other and the noise level gets loud. It’s crazy.
It matches the excitement of the Maker Faire so it’s worth it.
Drew, you’re from AstroPrint. Can you start by giving us a little background on yourself and your company and how it got started?
With myself, probably a little bit unusual compared to most people in the 3D printing industry. I came from the medical field. I was in sports medicine and then later in alternative medicine. I was an acupuncturist for years and a professor to Chinese medicine school, but I’d always done tech startups on the side. I had this weird tech habit that I kept hidden in the back of my life a little bit. I had startups before. With this entrepreneurial spirit, I started making medical prototypes that I was going to sell into the sports medicine industry and bought a 3D printer to make these prototypes with more precision. When I bought the printer, I fell in love with 3D printing much immediately. That was an old Airwolf 3D printer and I’ve gotten that in 2013. I fell in love with that, but then I saw all the frustrations that everyone was having in the market.
Let’s talk about that because that’s the issue. That was the impetus for you guys trying to go towards an app-based model if I’m not mistaken and that is because it’s frustrating. You may love it, but you get annoyed by it at the same time.
By the way, I love the name of your podcast. It fits my experience of the time.
That’s why we named it that. It fits ours as well.
After companies like us solve all these problems, we’re going to have to come up with another name for your podcast.
That’s my hope.
I’m technical. I don’t mind reading a lot of tech blogs and figuring out how to do things. It is not my preference but I could see then how many people had bought these 3D printers and desktop printers and became deflated by them because they had all these dreams of doing things with it. They got it and realized they couldn’t and it wasn’t the hardware. For the most part, it was difficult to navigate how to operate the machine and the software and installing Python on your computer to run the software for your 3D printer. It was beyond people’s skill level and I wanted to solve that. I wanted to make it easy for people so that everybody can enjoy 3D printing and then the printers can reach more mass adoption.
Do you think that it’s improving though? That there are printers that are getting easier and much more plug and play?
Absolutely. MakerBot gets flack for some things, but they did a lot of things right as well as far as sales and growth as a company. MakerBot was the first one to focus on this and they developed MakerWare and I postulate that what drove MakerBot sales in the early days wasn’t that their hardware was so much better than other hardware in the market. It was above average, but it wasn’t orders of magnitude above average, but their software made MakerBot easier for people to use. That’s what drove most MakerBot adoption. I know the other companies are starting to catch on. MakerBot had a lot of resources so they were able to do that.
That’s exactly our experience, Drew, because we’ve said this many times on the show. We bought a MakerBot and that was our first printer and to be honest with you, I was a little annoyed. We weren’t getting good prints out of it right away because we’ve been 3D designing and CAD modeling for many years. I expected us to be making great designs off the machine quickly, but it wasn’t happening. When we bought a different printer later, we finally got some good designs. It took us about six months before I thought it was good enough to Instagram it and we finally get these good prints. We said, “Let’s buy our next printer and let’s buy something that’s more flexible.” Maybe it’s the constraints of the MakerBot. That’s what we thought.
We thought maybe we wanted to have more than one material at a time, get a dual extrusion machine and be able to use other materials where the actual company that makes machine sanctions using different materials. MakerBot strictly says, “You’ll void the warranty if you put those materials in it.” We brought a more complicated machine and I returned it within 30 days because it was so much harder to navigate. Every time you turn around, you get to do firmware updates and software updates and you try different software. We tried this and it was a ridiculous amount of tech that you had to do that we weren’t designing anything. It was extremely frustrating for us. I say this all the time that I’m glad we bought the MakerBot first and went through our frustration curve with it because at the end of the day, it was still easier and we would have given up on the other printers.
That’s a common story or the reverse being a common story. They buy the other machine and they’ve been 3D printing. It’s complicated and then they never do anything with it again or they think it’s worth twenty years away from someone being able to use this because they bought a machine that didn’t focus on simplicity. The rest of the market and desktop manufacturers saw that with MakerBot and they’re aware of it. They’re all trying to solve that problem in their own way. You have a number of the larger manufacturers, XYZ Printing, for example, they have resources to try to build their own system to make it simpler. The manufacturers that are mid-grade and down there looking at companies like ours to jump right on board with because we can provide a simple solution. They don’t have to have a software team like the level of MakerBot to do it. I do see simplicity moving ahead in orders of magnitude year over year at this point. With XYZ and some other machines getting down to $250 a unit, my prediction is you’re going to see extremely simple to use machines that people can just pick up and use. I’m not going to say every single print is going to come out successful but it won’t be daunting to use the devices.
Also, Drew, you had your difficult experience with your first printer and this was the father of the invention for you of creating AstroPrint. Tell us how that came about. We’d like to know what you’re offering to those people like you said in that mid to lower tier of the desktop 3D printers that are not building their own software and ecosystem. How is it that your software helps them?
Our original idea was to make a site that accentuates Thingiverse, a model repository of designs that are all proven to print because people know that Thingiverse is all crowdsourced. Maybe 70% of the models on there would fail in a 3D printer if you didn’t know how to vet it. We created a site called 3DaGoGo.com, which is still around and that is exactly that.
By the way, Drew, we do highlight 3DaGoGo quite frequently. There are some great designs there and we highlight them in our monthly choice.
Thanks. I’m glad that you guys like it. With 3DaGoGo, what we found quickly, and you see this in the industry a lot, is people are more interested in free designs for some obvious reasons. We realized quite quickly that it wasn’t going to be a business that could scale the way we wanted to. We’re focused on venture scalable business. We were looking for what larger opportunity is there to help the industry. What we found in doing a bunch of customer surveys and whatnot is that the printer manufacturers had the biggest problem. They were losing sales because they were selling machines that were too complicated. We modified a lot of the advanced technology that was going to go into the next version of 3DaGoGo and then turned it into what is now AstroPrint.
The general idea of AstroPrint, how it works and how it helps these people are we have two sides. One side is software that can go into a 3D printer like you could put windows on your computer or you can put Android on your phone. This is software that could go on a printer. For a printer that doesn’t have the capability to run our software, you can put it on a Raspberry Pi and plug that into your printer. That becomes a simple to use interface for the machine. You can use your phone or your tablet to control it with a simple touchscreen. You can connect it online to the cloud, just the way that you would expect a 3D printer to work or any piece of modern technology.
For the manufacturers, we do work a lot with the mid and long-tailed 3D printers, the smaller manufacturers. We do work with large ones as well and it’s a slightly different product. In general, what they do is they can get a branded version. For example, Airwolf 3D printer’s WolfWare, which is a branded version of AstroPrint and then the supplies link goes to their supply store and whatnot. There are other manufacturers as well. We give them this ability to connect their brand all the way through to their customers at the same time as giving them a simple user experience.
On the other side, we have our cloud-based 3D printing App Store. This is something anybody can go to and use. It’s free. Go to AstroPrint.com and log in, and you’ll see several apps. If you have a 3D printer that is AstroPrint compatible, then there are things that you can do from that site to connect through to it. It’s like remote monitoring from anywhere. You could send prints from Thingiverse straight to your printers like using your phone or tablet. All the slicing happens in the cloud and we optimize the slicing process. Our goal with that site moving forward is to expand it out and be a true app store. We have about ten more third parties in line to release apps on there, including sites like MyMiniFactory and a number of customizers. We see this as being the true place that people go to find what they want to print and how they want to print it and then send it to the printer simply.
It’s app-based which is a lot more mainstream simple.
That’s exactly what we’re going for like, “What worked in the phone and computer industry?” That’s applications and icons that drive what you want to do and it’s important that the applications are developed by third parties. There are other people doing what we do out there that are building all the applications themselves. “We made a customizer. We made a new slicer. We made this and we made that,” and that’s not our approach. Our approach is to be a true platform. For example, a multi printer management system is something that’s needed.
It is needed in an enterprise and an education system.
We realized that we can build that and we will or someone else doesn’t. What we would rather happen is with our platform, third parties build on our APIs and multiple groups and companies build their apps for that. Let them compete and make the best ones possible or ones that work in different situations. It’s better for different customers.
We can make a less featured printer and expand the offering by being app capable?
That’s exactly it. You nailed it there. I might put that in our pitch deck.
I like that idea because part of the problem with teaching our young daughter how to 3D print was that we had to try to use a mouse instead of a tablet because that’s what she was used to. She could have figured out an app in no time at all and we would have been up and running.
We’re talking to several companies now that are making simple cloud-based CAD tools for children to run on tablets. Their next step is once they design something, what do they do with it and then with an AstroPrint integration, what they can do is they can hit a button even if they’re not in their house, maybe they’re there at the store, the printer on their house starts printing it. They don’t have to know about slicing and they don’t have to know about any of that. They can just hit the button and it works. That’s coming soon.
We want to know about that when it’s available. Not only just to try it out to be able to talk about it on the podcast, but also for our own selfish use for our kids who are growing up in this desktop 3D printer reality. We’re trying to immerse them in it and trying to see what connects best with them. We’d be interested in that.
I’ll let you know. There is a version available. It’s not a tablet but on AstroPrint.com, we have an app on there from a company 3D Slash. I don’t know if you guys are familiar with 3D Slash.
We haven’t heard of them.
That would be great to interview. They have wonderful and amazing French accents. 3D Slash is a French company and they made a cloud-based CAD tool for children that uses a Minecraft style interface.
We’ve heard of something, but we couldn’t figure out what the name was because everybody kept saying there’s this Minecraft thing out there that’s an app and we were like, “What is it? I don’t know what it is,” so great.
This is popular on AstroPrint. The way it works on there is you open it up, they can design something and then you can save it back into your AstroPrint Cloud account, and then print from there. You can also import models. If you have models you know already on AstroPrint, maybe brought it from some other site or made it yourself, you can import it into 3D Slash. It turns it into blocks that then you could then modify. A kid could take a blank phone case and then add their name or I heart mom or whatever they want to it and then print it off.
Drew, the future of it sounds to me like you guys are going to be Android. AstroPrint is Android. It’s the machine that runs the apps and the App Store. How will we know if we get a printer that is AstroPrint capable?
You may not always know. Some of them would say powered by AstroPrint and some may just say cloud-capable and whatnot. Our goal as we move forward will solidify the brand name a bit more. For example, in the phone industry, even if a phone was running Android, but if they didn’t call it Android, you probably wouldn’t buy it. People wouldn’t trust it. Our goal is to build that brand awareness a little bit more so that people go looking for the AstroPrint enabled 3D printer.
It’s also extremely important from the design side. One of the things that we were looking at and we’ve been talking about with some people at CES and other things is that not having a cloud-capable printer is problematic for us from the design side. If we are creating wonderful complex designs and we put 100 or 200 hours into the designs of our products, we’re not going to be giving them away for free. We need a cloud streaming version so that we can be paid by the print if we’re not going to be paid upfront for these designs. There are many printers and many service companies that retailers even like the UPS Store or other things where they don’t have the ability to do that. The reality is that there are constraints. If they’re not going to buy their own or create their own designs, they are incapable of having designs put into them if they aren’t streaming. If somebody is not ordering them on Thingiverse, we’re bringing them down for free, where are they going to get them?
I did a talk and I’ll be doing another one at the New York 3D Printing Expo about the cloud infrastructure, the industry. The point that I like to make in that talk is that 3D printers are these advanced, amazing pieces of technology from a hardware perspective, but for some reason, the industry has loved this software that’s from the ‘90s. There is probably nowhere else that you would buy a $2,000 piece of machinery that’s not cloud-connected. Your $40 coffee maker can probably be accessed through an app but why can a $50,000 3D printer much less, even a $2,000 3D printer, not be accessed through an app. Society expects it.
You have a good point, Drew. We often use the analogy that a 3D printer is like a sewing machine. I love the coffee machine idea because I think about what’s happened with an espresso or the Keurig. If you do not have the capability of, at the end of the day, having every flavor of coffee available to purchase in their little kit cartridge, then you preclude yourself from an entire audience of people. You’ve got this great machine that can do it but you’ve got no K-Cups.
From a bit of using the business terminology, I would rephrase that like, “Platforms drive innovation.” People don’t think of Keurig as a platform but it is. It’s a platform where you could start a coffee company that makes K-Cups and not be part of Keurig tomorrow and that drives Keurig sales. We think it’s the same for 3D printing and it sounds like you guys do, too.
We do. I like the coffee maker analogy because that is relatable to everybody. To common people who don’t know CAD but you want an exotic cup of coffee, even though you’re not going to whip up a recipe yourself and you want to do it quickly. I think the same thing needs to happen with the market going mainstream for 3D-printed content. People would be into buying something that was made their way or in just the color they want. They want enough to know how to 3D print it but we don’t have to know how to model it. We’re not there yet, but we’re going to be. Maybe a platform like AstroPrint helps us get there.
I think so, too.
“Platform drives innovation,” I like the sound of that. Also thinking it’s the supply model. You think about it like the machine is the last leader. You sell the machine at which the prices have come so far down. The margins are low from what I’m hearing from most people. For most printing manufacturers, the margins are extremely low on it. If you’re not making your money on the input and not investing in the great design files that you’re going to be selling or the materials that are going to become a part of that machine, you’re not gaining that market. You’re not leveraging your platform for all it’s worth. You can add apps and software to that.
Materials sales and whatnot go along with these guys as well. It’s all part of what’s driving the prices down. I’m excited about what that’s doing for the industry. Stepping back, that all fits together. It’s another way of framing where we feel design has been with the industry, as far as the consumer desktop 3D printer market is. Nobody I know is claiming that we’re in a full consumer market yet. It’s still a certain level of hobbyist, although I feel like we’re moving out of that. We’re moving into education and then we’ll move into consumerism next. It’s following that track.
We have to build our consumer base first and that’s the problem. There are two big paradigm shifts for us older people but once we teach our kids, they’re going to expect it and that will be our future consumer base.
It will be normal. With the designs and people paying for designs and whatnot, in general, a principle of a hobbyist is hobbyist value money over time. What I mean by that is a hobbyist would prefer to spend ten hours solving a problem themselves than paying $5 to have it solved for them because they enjoy the process of solving the problem themselves. A consumer that’s not a hobbyist values time over money. They would rather spend $10 than have to read tech blogs for 30 minutes to solve a problem. We are shifting to that consumer market and we still believe that as that goes there and companies like Disney, Hasbro and others start to get in the market which they’re getting hammered by us and everyone else about coming in. They’ll only be able to hold out so long. Once they come in, then that consumer wave picks up and you’ll see the design market as an industry explode as well.
What do you think is holding that back? What do you think the challenge of getting those kinds of people in?
That’s a tough one. There were about 6 or 7 different challenges that each one is getting whittled away on. Keep in mind that these are big companies that don’t step into any market unless there’s a lot of money to be had.
We understand retail.
If it’s under $1 million deal, then it’s not worth spending the lowest guy Disney after. That’s how their engine works. There are many checks and it’s not because they’re greedy. There are many checks and balances and many legal check-offs. It costs them a lot of money to approve products and get them in the market so they need to make a lot of money on it. That’s a little bit of a barrier. What we’re working on to solve that is bringing multiple manufacturers to the table. We’ve run into a lot of manufacturers that went to Disney, but they couldn’t bring a big enough deal to Disney to bring them in. As we get some more manufacturers on our system, we can go to Disney. We can work out the deal with them and put them on twenty printers at once. All of a sudden, the deal could be big enough. There are also other companies solving things that have been problems. I don’t know if you guys are familiar with Sourcetree.
Sourcetree is solving problems around royalty management that will be necessary for Disney’s and Hasbro’s to get involved. You’ve got other companies out there solving security issues. We’re solving the wireless delivery and the ability to make sure the model or work on almost any machine in the field right and the store that I can sell-through. You’ve got all these different companies whittling away at all those problems simultaneously. I don’t think it’s something that’s going to take years for them to get in. It’s going to have a snowball effect downhill. It’s gaining momentum and then it’s going to breakthrough. I don’t think it’s too long, like 1 or 2 years.
My projection is at the end of 2017. By that time, we’ll see these things going full stream. The sooner, the better. What do you think is going to happen is those companies that are currently building their entire market on the hobbyist, there are many of them and the market is a lot smaller? I understand where retail is coming from. When they see that, they’re not too excited. When you can then bring this to mainstream America with relevant things that they want, then it gets big and it gets his big companies’ attention. That’s where the future growth is for sure.
We’ve seen the signals that that is coming and I want to be a little careful about what I say because we have NDAs in place. Without naming names, one company that we’re starting to work with has been an OEM. Meaning they have made 2D printers for some of the biggest names in the industry for decades. A company no one’s ever heard of, but they’re huge. Other companies stick their label on them and you may own a 2D printer made by this manufacturer.
OEM, for the readers’ purposes, open and manufacturing, which is original equipment manufacturing.
It’s someone that does white labeling. They make a machine and then another company like Lexmark sticks their sticker on it and you buy a Lexmark, but Lexmark didn’t make it. That’s extremely common in the industry.
We hear a lot of 3D printer companies who want to be that. They want to make the equipment but they don’t want to be the brand.
We’re starting to work with this company that’s done it in the 2D printing industry for decades and they’re shifting the 3D. This is a signal that you’re seeing these companies that already have the connections. These guys, they’re a large multibillion-dollar company and they know how to produce a product at scale. They have all the connections to every 2D printer manufacturer that they can just walk in and say, “Why don’t you pick up this 3D printer and you’re off to the races?” A lot of people in the public think it’s going to take a long time for consumer 3D printing to happen, think every single company out there has to develop an R&D for machines. That’s not how it’s likely to happen. There are going to be manufacturers that already exist and they’re going to get picked up by these bigger companies.
That’s exactly the way that it’s going to happen. That’s the same thing with design. The hold back on the market in general is that everyone thinks that either the Thingiverse of the world is good enough, so they’re okay with that or they think that they will have to build it themselves. That’s a mistake because you can’t do that. You can’t develop that core competence overnight at what is retail capable because of its consumer product at the end of the day.
People don’t realize what it takes to put a consumer product out compared to what it takes to get a model up on Thingiverse that looks good and works, what can break off and become choking hazards. There are many factors that are complex and large engines when it’s done correctly.
You think about it though from the standpoint. You talked about the multiple manufacturers and big size and these things being a challenge in retail constraints, but there’s a big attraction for retail to want to have 3D designs and print on demand products because the inventory carrying costs are huge. For instance, a little ornament for the holidays or a little ring holder for Valentine’s Day or a little ring holder. The carrying costs on that is at least a $2.2 million initial order for a retail store to put it out into all its stores for the holiday for a national chain promo buys. You spend $2.2 million, but on the side of designing it and then printing on demand, you might be talking about a $20,000 investment. That is incredible. Maybe you have licensing and royalty fees but you have to be capable. That’s why what you’re talking about is perfect and what Sourcetree is also working on is perfect. You have to be capable of tracking every print that’s made so that designers are paid fairly and whoever’s licensed content that is assured of the security of their license.
A friend of mine’s company is doing some things with Walmart. It’s a company called Grom. I don’t know if you guys have heard of Grom. It’s like a phone case customizer on Walmart.com and has the phone case sent to you. It’s not for home printing. You see these retail giants already stuffing into it and there are a couple of companies out there starting to create kiosk systems that they’re hoping to get into Toys“R”Us and places like that. Another way of looking at the market and times have changed. In my generation, in general, the way you got things or you did things, you went to the store, you saw what was there and you pick from your options. In the younger generation, everything is different. It comes from the way the internet has evolved. Everything is dynamic. Your Facebook page is the way you want your Facebook page. Who you want in is who you get in and out and whatnot. Everything is customized so it makes sense for the next phase for the younger generation. All the physical objects that they expect them to be are customized too.
That is the case. We cite these statistics all the time in our product design world and retail that 78% of purchase begins online first and maybe it’s at a research-level or comparison level. You don’t know exactly what it is but 78% begin online first. That’s across every age and demographic. You can be strangely large if you talk about a Millennial generation, but it is across every generation at this point.
I didn’t know that stat. That’s amazing. I’m going to use that. I’m going to take it. Now that many things can be customized easily, it will be expected more. I am not a doom and gloom for retail. I don’t think 3D printing is going to put Walmart on business or anything like that. I do believe you’re going to see these retail companies going to have to incorporate a lot of this. Whether there are customizers that are producing things for you in the store, whether that’s 3D printing or designing and creating the clothes for you in the store to your scans body image. There is going to be significantly more of that as we move forward. We’re still a little bit away from that.
We’re moving the Titanic a little bit.
Isn’t this an exciting time that we’re living in though? This is cool stuff. Drew, thank you so much for spending a little more time with us. It’s been great to have more time and have a good deep dive into this whole arena that your company is creating this platform. I love that, “Platform drives innovation.” That’s going to stick in my head for a while.
Thank you so much for having me. As always, it’s fun and insightful. I enjoyed your insights and I’m going to use some notes as I talked to investors and customers and whatnot here soon.
That was a lot more interesting and exciting than I thought it was going to be.
I liked that we are finally getting some people who are as bullish on retail as I am.
He seems to significantly realize that that is the future market and tactically seeing how we’re going to start to get there.
He said that he saw it at CES, and we saw the same thing, that one year was all about hobbyists and the other year was all about education. He and I both expect that in the next year, it’s going to start to turn towards consumers.
Those that you are saying is that every company has said, “Who’s their target market?” That was the key thing. Educational institutions are spending the most money buying 3D printers and putting in curriculum standards.
That’s a mistake for people to put that in their mind. They’re focused on the sales part of it as education but on the R&D side, it better be a consumer or they’re going to be behind.
The product relevance cycles are so long and not only that but figuring out all the nuances of how you’re going to reach that consumer but to me, this is the interesting thing. When you think about brick and mortar retail, he was talking about how he doesn’t think that online and 3D print-on-demand manufacturing is ever going to replace brick and mortar retail relevance. I agree with that, but it’s going to be a much bigger part of it. If you look at the statistics that you let out which is 78% of purchases begin online. Whether they’re purchased in the store or not, they begin online.
You don’t want to drive to the store unless they have them in stock so you’ll check online. You’ll also comparison shop and say, “Which store do I want to buy it from? Should I just order it from Amazon right now?” These are things that you do in the process? It’s a normal course of action for everyone at every age demographic now. When you think about that, aren’t you going to be so much more excited when you say, “Look how cool that color is? It’s not available in the store. It’s only available on demand.”
To me, the fact that 78% of purchases begin online. Thinking that years ago, online didn’t even exist. Most consumers didn’t go online at that time. How much has that changed how people buy things now?
This percentage is an old one. I’ve been using this percentage for probably at least two years in the market when I give presentations on the retail market and what’s happening there. It’s across all age demographics, but it’s probably out of date and it’s higher than that.
It’s natural that as time moves on and younger Millennials grow up and become more of the purchasing market out there. That number is naturally going to go up. It’s also an indicator that there is going to be this natural evolution move toward wanting it your way, especially with the Millennial generation. Print on demand is going to be a part of that and 3D printed products at retail will be real.
I love the idea of what Drew is offering so I love the idea of an AstroPrint app being right on my printer and I don’t have to do anything but click on the app on my tablet, tell my printer and search through my catalog and say, “That’s what I want now.” It’s irrelevant where it’s coming from. It’s not like I have to sift through it, I just pick whatever app I’m most interested in.
It may not even be relevant where you’re having it printed either, whether it’s your printer or service to print on demand. It’s a lot of things that have to line up for it to happen but this is going to happen. It was exciting. What they’re doing with their company is smart and making it a platform and having that platform be the conduit to help bring a lot of these different pieces together to help move the market.
It’s going to take companies like Sourcetree and AstroPrint to move retail because it’s such a Titanic move that has to happen at retail. You have to have someone who’s going to leverage the cost of many different manufacturers because if each little printer manufacturer has to try and get retail to support them, it’s not going to work. The same thing with designers and products that are going in there and software, it’s not going to happen. When you get these guys who are consolidating all of that and making it happen, that’s the most promising.
It is exciting to understand that there’s a company at Walmart who’s doing these customized phone cases on-demand type of thing. That I didn’t know about. Even the world’s largest retailer is dipping their toe into it.
They should be. Everyone should be testing. Staples and Walmart have their test and Target did a test with the superheroes and the little gingerbread men over the holidays in some of their stores. These kinds of things, those tests from what I understand, for the most part, have gone well. That’s the least reports back I’ve heard from many of the manufacturers. They might have had conservative projections that they’re doing well on. Doing well compared to what retail metrics normally are maybe still relative but they did better than they projected they would do so it’s good.
That’s going to be natural. They’re not going to get it right the first time. They had to figure out what works.
Be tenacious about it and because you have to move this across many parts, categories and many areas of retail business to make that happen. The biggest paradigm shift that has to happen is someone has to think of Walmart as less commodity and the ability to offer something customized. That’s the bigger problem with these guys doing a phone case customizer at Walmart. Walmart has a broad range of consumers but how many of the consumers value customization? They don’t think of Walmart for customization. That’s the shift that they have to make first. That’s where you have a paradigm shift that has to happen that these large retailers have to say, “We’re not just the place for mass retail products. We’re the place for something special, too.”
We want to be the place for something that you want to buy.
It doesn’t matter what it is.
They’re up for sale, so whatever you want to buy.
I’m excited about AstroPrint’s Amps and the things that they have going on in the future. You should check them out at AstroPrint.com. We’ve had three hacking attempts at 3DStartPoint.com. There’s something like that. I don’t know what’s going on why we have a big old target on our backs. There’s nothing but a bunch of blog posts.
I asked our technical people that and they say, “Why are people doing it?” They said, “Because they can.” It amazes me that there are enough people in this world that have that much time on their hands and the interest in going to take down a website to do that. They do so. On the off chance that you go to 3DStartPoint.com and it doesn’t look like what you expect it to look like or it doesn’t have any.
It has a nasty little message that says, “You’ve been hacked,” and sticking his tongue out at you that we’ve been hacked again. Anyway, hopefully, that’s not going to happen and they’re putting it off measures to make it so but you can still access the podcast by iTunes or Stitcher.
If you can’t get in touch with us over the website because of something like that heck, you certainly can find us on social media because they’re not going to take down Facebook or Twitter anytime soon. You can find us anywhere on social media @HazzDesign.
Thanks for reading.
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