The 3D printing revolution is still at its beginning. Many startups are exploring this market. One of them is Thingarage. Founded in 2013 by Antonello Balestrieri, architect, Valentina Lauro, expert in communications, Antonio Tiseo, PhD student in international relations, and Carlo Tomei, IT engineer, Thingarage is essentially a crowdsourcing platform for 3D models. The goal is to connect designers with companies involved in research and development of new products. For them, Thingarage represents the most simple and quickest way to achieve their goals.

 

The 3D printing revolution is still at its beginning. Many startups are exploring this market. One of them is Thingarage. Founded in 2013 by Antonello Balestrieri, architect, Valentina Lauro, expert in communications, Antonio Tiseo, PhD student in international relations, and Carlo Tomei, IT engineer, Thingarage is essentially a crowdsourcing platform for 3D models. The goal is to connect designers with companies involved in research and development of new products. For them, Thingarage represents the most simple and quickest way to achieve their goals.

Thingarage entered LUISS ENLABS acceleration program in December 2013. We asked them to tell us about their experience and their pitch a couple of weeks before our Investor Day. “Our mission is to cut prototyping costs with crowdsourcing, helping companies to have more design concepts for their products ” explains Tiseo. “LUISS ENLABS introduced us to the venture capital world we didn’t know and cleared us how to move away from auto financing.”

 

How did LUISS ENLABS helped you to manage your project?
“We completely revolutionized our working habits. Now we track everything we do and we are able to cooperate even not in the same place, with brief Skype call to communicate. The use of Scrum methodology helped us to work in an ordered and goal oriented way.”

How did you manage to offer a painless service to small companies?
“We have a team of designers working with us. We manage contests like 99design, Zooppa or Jovoto, and every designer is free to participate in the contest he feels more comfortable with. We’re different from other services because we operate only in the 3D business. We are developing a marketplace too and our business model has been elaborated on several different levels. Moreover, we also offer prototyping.”

Do you print the prototypes?
“Yes, if our clients require a printed prototype, we offer them this option. For high quality objects or high tech devices we have structured a solid partnership with 3D Systems Europe, that supports us when facing peculiar industrial needs. We think every manager of every company worldwide would love having his product 3D printed directly by the same company that created the most recent US fighter planes or the components for F1 racing cars. Don’t you?”

How did you manage to cut costs?
“This is where the mechanism of the contest starts playing its role. Contests help designers to extend their portfolio and match companies’ needs. On the other side, companies can collect projects from different designers all over the world. It’s like having a virtual R&D department that produce 3D models printable in every fablab of the planet. We are also a virtual showcase for some brilliant Italian designers, whose talent has already attracted many companies since we launched the website.”

Which is your market and how much is it estimated?
“Fast-prototyping and 3D modeling are often included in a wider range of services directly associated to the spread of 3D printing. By 2017, according to all-leading experts, the sale of 3D-printing products and services will approach $6 billion worldwide and 2021, Wohlers Associates forecasts the industry to reach $10.8 billion. Outsourcing of 3D printing services will play an essential part in this growing trend. Having in mind these data we assumed that basically, the biggest risk we assume is to go live too early, before medium sized and small industries start using these our innovative services. But we have a really detailed roadmap so we are pretty confident we can make the grade, meeting the market needs when our service will be fully implemented and ready to scale up.”

Which are your goals?
“We are confident to close the year with revenues at 150.000 euros. One month ago, we launched the website and we are currently in public beta. We’ve already closed the first contest for 1.700 euros. Moreover, we have already partnered with international companies for a project that involves smartphones and 3D printing. You will hear more about it soon.”