Stepping Up the 3D Printing Game By Leveling the Playing Field
You wouldn’t expect to meet a bioastronautics innovator, a certified firefighter and EMT, a patent-holding inventor, an award-winning social impact entrepreneur, a military r
eservist, and a public speaking firebrand all in the same room let alone in the same person, but Samantha Snabes has made a habit out of defying expectations. And her pitch at the San Francisco Gentleman Jack Pitch Distilled event aligned perfectly with her unique perspective.
From the get-go, the founder of re:3d broke from Pitch Distilled convention, taking the stage dressed in an airman’s jumpsuit, carrying a plastic stepstool under her arm. Engaging her audience from atop the stool, Snabes’ reasoning for bringing it became immediately apparent. Not only did the prop accentuate her visibility to the audience; it actualized the sort of change-driving accessibility on which her company is founded.
Re:3d designs, manufactures, and distributes Gigabot, the world’s first affordable, large-scale 3D printer. Snabes’ stepstool, which was printed with Gigabot, evinces re:3d’s commitment to open-source by delivering the work of aerospace engineers and machinists for use by the masses. With an ethos comprising equal parts brains, grit, resourcefulness, honor, and philanthropy, re:3d follows in Jack Daniels’ footsteps in its commitment to social vision and broad accessibility.
Bootstrapping Pitches to Gain Audiences’ Favor
The concept for Gigabot emerged from an identified need for a human-scale 3D printer—one that would output functional products rather than small-scale models—with a price tag under $10k. This mission was vital enough for Snabes and her cohorts to quit their aerospace jobs and devote their full attention to its realization.
Since forming re:3d, Snabes has pitched the company so often that she’s mastered some hacks along the way. For example, much like re:3d’s bootstrapped trajectory “from zero to factory,” Snabes uses the stepstool to bring Gigabot to life because the printer itself, which is the size of a kitchen range, is too large to travel with. “If you can’t bring your product, it helps to bring a prop so people can see what you’re doing.” The stepstool has been such an effective pitching tool that it boasts its own claim to fame. In its travels around the world, both the President of Chile and the Prime Minister of Ireland have sat on it.
Preparing for her live Pitch Distilled pitch, Snabes—who is also a Texas resident—was thrilled to work with mentor Zac Maurais of Favor, the Austin-based delivery app. “Zac is a phenomenal pitcher and made great suggestions about changing our pitch to speak to different audiences,” Snabes extols. So valuable were Maurais’ suggestions that re:3d was able to implement them quickly and enter into conversations with a Fortune 100 company within days of clinching the Pitch Distilled prize.
Adding Social Purpose to Additive Manufacturing
Decimating the cost and scale barriers to entry in 3D printing was a great goal to accomplish, but re:3d is not content to rest on its laurels. The company is now developing hardware to 3D print from trash as a means of further reducing printing costs and broadening access to printing materials. re:3d has also taken a pledge to create 600 jobs in the next five years. With the win in San Francisco behind her, Snabes can start focusing on VC funding for this next phase of R&D.
As a community-driven company, re:3d’s attunement to feedback from its customers is paramount. By remaining open-source and continuing to diversify its revenue, this “one-stop shop” is able to honor its social priority to support the innovators using its product generatively to create products like composting toilets and children’s prosthetics. Its “1 for 100 giveaway” adds a donative element to re:3d’s business model and engages its customers in ongoing conversations while sharing their stories with others. Snabes describes the company’s work as “printing with purpose.” “We want to be transparent and track what our customers are doing, and we are committed to giving away printers along the way.”
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This article was produced by WIRED Brand Lab in partnership with Gentleman Jack.