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Did you know that WinSun Decoration Design Engineering, a Chinese Company, used 3-D printing technology to construct 10 one-story house in a day? Did you know that Doctors in a UK Hospital used 3D printing technology to reconstruct the face of patient who survived a motorcycle accident? Did you know that NASA is planning to use 3-D printers in space to fabricate a tool or meals for astronauts? (Source: Mashable)

Clearly, 3D printing is transforming the world into a 5.0 version. The amount of things we can create and problems we can solve is beyond anybody’s imagination. Thanks to the 3D printing marketplace like pinshape, even you and I can think about having an easy access to this magical world of Narnia. Recently selected in the 9th Batch of 500 Startups, this 3D printing startup is doing extremely well in providing a highly advanced platform to connect designers and makers.


(If you want to read more about how pinshape cracked 500 Startups, then checkout Nick’s Blog)

Nick Schwinghamer, Co-founder of pinshape, explained how his 3D printing startup is diligently balancing the demand-supply curve by providing an open and transparent 3D printing marketplace to the world.

About the Company

Q: Tell us something about your pinshape.

A: pinshape is a 3D printing community marketplace. We’re focused on helping high calibre 3D designers share and sell their work the way they want, and making this amazing technology easy to use and accessible for the general public. We help people take their creativity and desire for custom products, and turn that into high quality, real life objects. We’re originally from Canada, just opened the site to the public about a month ago and are working hard now to spread the word and build the community.

Q: What is the story behind the making of pinshape?

A: Like most good things, pinshape was born out of some coincidence. Lucas and I went to grad school together and about a year and a half after graduation I happened to see him walking across the street as I was driving home from work. I texted him to grab some lunch the next day to catch up, along with some other friends. The other friends didn’t end up showing up and it was just us two and we got all caught up. Right after lunch, Lucas texted me and asked if I’d be interested in hearing about an idea he was thinking of but would need help on. The next day, he pitched me “Pinterest for 3d printing”. I was sold, and we started working on pinshape.


Q: How did you come up with this interesting concept of bringing the whole community of 3D printing together?

A: 3D printing was such a cool technology that we had started hearing about more and more. When Lucas pitched the idea to me, we thought about how we could participate in the industry, because we saw the potential. We didn’t have the technical expertise to build the printers or innovate in materials, but we thought that if we built the best consumer interface, somewhere people loved to learn and explore, that we could fill a hole in the market. 3D printing is still intimidating to a lot of non-tech people, we want to help change that.

Q: What are your strengths?

A: As a team, we have a really diverse and complementary skill set. Lucas has a background in finance, due diligence and mergers and acquisitions and is a CFA Charter Holder. Andre is our resident prodigy and handles design and development for the platform. I have a background in Electrical Engineering and R&D at a consumer technology company. Together, we have the skills we need to execute and the passion for technology to thrive in the 3D printing landscape.

pinshape founders

Branding pinshape

Q: What is the competitive advantage of pinshape?

A: At pinshape, we are focused to two fronts. One side of the equation is the design community. We want to give designers a go-to platform for everything they need to learn, sharpen their skills, show off their work and monetize their talent in ways they can’t on other sites. On the non-designer side, we are building an easy to use interface that takes the technical stigma of 3D printing out of the equation. We’re going to be trying to educate anyone who is interested how they can take part in 3D printing, and giving them the tools they need to create world class products, just for them.

Q: Please throw some light on your target audience and how you reach out to them.

A: The main focus for us can be split into 2 groups for the short term.

Designers: These are the highly skilled and experienced 3D sculptors of the world. We are targeting them through their existing networks, including popular software forums, professional associations and personal connections, as well as standard online advertising.


Makers: These are the at home hobbyists who are getting involved with 3D printing as early adopters. Contact with makers is possible for us through school groups, maker organizations and events like Maker Faire.

Q: What is the marketing strategy of pinshape?

A: Since money is tight, we are busting our ass to do a lot of non-scalable things. This includes producing basic personalised videos to invite top talent, trying to get mentions in industry publications through direct contact, and running contests, like our current 3D printer and 3D printed Bill Murray giveaway we are running (shameless plug… ENTER NOW atpinshape.com/contest). We will also have a booth at Maker Faire Bay Area on May 17 and 18 where we hope to get some good face time with our community.

Q: How are you better than your competitors?

A: We are fully focused on the community experience. We aren’t using the community as a side project as we try to sell our hardware, and we want to give designers all the options they need. We want to be the go to platform for designers. Like the Dribble for 3D printing.

Word of Advice

Q: Now what is the next step in 500 Startups, and how do you plan to go with it?

A: We are here to work our asses off. We are pushing out some major features in the next week and will be focusing on building our community until demo day, which is at the very end of July. We have a lot of work to do to get the attention of the 3D community, but we have some big plans that we think will get some great traction in the next few months.

Q: What are your future plans for the company?

A: Once the program here at 500 is over, we will be heading up to Vancouver in Canada to keep things growing. We want to keep building our team and creating a vibrant, active online space for everyone interested in 3D printing. We can’t wait to see where the 3D printing industry goes, because it seems to be changing every day.

Q: What is the word of advice you would like to give to Startups who one day aspire to be where pinshape is today?

A: I really like a quote that goes along the lines of “In the end you’ll regret the things you didn’t do, more than the things you did”. Start working now, take some risks and take every opportunity you can to learn. It doesn’t have to be a full time thing right away, but if you don’t start, it’ll never happen.


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