Posts Tagged "accelerator"

The Upside & Downside of Crowdfunding for Hardware Startups

August 15, 2016
3D Innovations

With the exponential growth of crowdfunding, hardware startups are finding it easier to raise funds and launch their product into the marketplace. For instance, on Kickstarter in 2015, the amount of money going to funded projects increased by 35%, or $160 Million more than in 2014. There were 54,831 projects funded on Kickstarter in 2015, which is an increase of over 10,000 from the previous year. In addition, the Design and Technology categories were among the fastest growing segments.* Crowdfunding continues to grow in popularity and has transformed into a viable funding option for hardware entrepreneurs. However, like any type of business funding, crowdfunding has its upside and downside, and before you setup your campaign there are a few things to consider.

Upside of Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is often viewed as a way to raise funds and validate your product idea (both of which are true and terrific for startups). However, there is one aspect that many hardware entrepreneurs fail to consider, it is the community support of your early-adopters. The influence that these backers have on the success of your crowdfunding campaign should not be taken lightly.

hardware crowdfundingThe early-adopters help create, define and market your product to a much larger audience.  Through comments and feedback on your crowdfunding page, you will be able to get a firm grasp on your product-market fit; which in turn, will let you know if you are on the right path or if you need to pivot your current product and redesign your strategy. In this manner, crowdfunding is the culmination of the lean startup.

Through your early-adopters you also gain exposure that you would not have been able to receive if you went solely with the traditional Venture Capital (“VC”) funding route. The more exposure your campaign receives and the more public interest it garnishes, will undoubtedly affect your product’s funding. Recently, VCs have started paying close attention to successful campaigns as a way to evaluate a startup before investing their own funds. Hardware investors understand that crowdfunding campaigns give an advantage to startups because they speed up the market feedback process—which in turn, helps minimize a VCs potential investment risk.

Downside of Crowdfunding

Failed campaigns, wasted time and underestimated product development costs are crowdfunding downsides experienced by startups. When you are an early-stage startup there is nothing worse than failure and wasted time. To prepare for these potential missteps it is crucial that you plan ahead.

While a failed campaign can be attributed to a number of things, the most common factor is the lack of an engaging story. Early-adopters need to be motivated to invest in your product, and one way to do this is through an interesting campaign with a backstory that grabs their attention. Your “story delivery” also demonstrates to early-adopters that you have a strong marketing strategy that will translate well from your crowdfunding campaign and into the marketplace.

Another pitfall to avoid is asking for the wrong amount of funding. Estimating your total development costs can be tricky, but this risk can be minimized with the input from experienced team members and outside consultants. Manufacturing and packaging is one area that is particularly challenging for hardware entrepreneurs, and getting a firm “estimate” can be even harder. (Our advice, research potential manufacturers and meet with a variety of them before settling on one.) If your dollar estimate is off, it can sink even the best crowdfunding campaign.

Without and engaging story or correct project cost estimates you risk crowdfunding failure. The time you spend crowdfunding will be wasted, which can be detrimental for early-stage hardware startups.

*ICO Partners Kickstarter in 2015—Review in numbers

Have additional questions regarding crowdfunding for your hardware startup? Send them our way, info@3d-innovations.com

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3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

Startup Connector is a Manufacturing Accelerator helping companies commercialize—turning ideas into products.

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The True Cost of Bringing Your Hardware Product to Market

April 19, 2016
3D Innovations

costsUnderestimating the costs of bringing a product to market is a pitfall many entrepreneurs make. This one mistake can seriously derail a startup. Hardware products are notorious for being costly, so it is wise to estimate your costs before jumping in. Technology innovations, such as 3D printing, have helped lower some of the associated costs, but there are still others that many entrepreneurs aren’t aware of.

Below is a list of some of the major costs associated with launching a hardware product.

  • 3D Rendering & Prototyping. 3D rendering lets you design and accurately visualize the product before investing in an actual model. Once you have a final design, it is time to build a prototype. This is a critical step because it is here in which you test your design and make any necessary changes to its aesthetics or functionality. 3D printing has helped drive the costs down of prototypes, so this is one technology you may want to consider using. Keep in mind that prototyping costs vary depending on size, complexity and volume of part. (Estimated costs: $5,000-plus for design work and $500-plus for 3D printing iterations)
  • Certifications & Testing. Most products require some type of certification to be sold in various countries. (This is especially true if your product has an electronic component.) Entrepreneur has a list of certifications that could be required for your product (here). (Estimated cost: $10,000)
  • Intellectual Property. Patents allow you to secure all rights and claims to your invention. Filling a design patent is going to cost less than a utility patent, but the protection rights are also different. However, both types of patents let you use the coveted phrase, patent pending. It is always best to consult with a patent attorney to discuss the needs of your individual product. (Estimated costs: $2,000-plus)
  • The Retail Package. The retail package is integral and is in many ways the ‘face’ of your product. It must be both protective during shipping and help your product standout on a crowded shelf. (Estimated cost: $3,000-plus)
  • Manufacturing. This is likely going to be your largest expense, which means that finding and vetting manufacturers is to your advantage. While small batch runs are feasible with 3D printing, larger batches are going to require mass-manufacturing. Injection molding costs run high because of the expensive steel molds required. (Estimated costs: $40,000-plus)
  • Traditional business expenses. This category encompasses business licenses, product liability insurance, office space, warehousing fees and shipping costs, etc. (Estimated costs: $1,000-plus per month)

If your product has electronic components you are also going to want to factor in these additional costs.

  • Electronics Design. This is the heart and soul of your product. It is what makes your product go and what helps it stand out from the competition. From a design standpoint, this is going to be the most expensive step. It is important to find a design engineer that has experience related to your design needs and clearly understands your budgetary requirements. (Estimated cost: $10,000-plus)
  • Software. If your hardware product is going to require a microcontroller or microprocessor, some level of programming will be required. In addition, if your product needs to communicate with a smartphone, a mobile app may also be required. (Estimated costs: $5,000-plus)

Here is what our President & Chief 3D Officer, Collin Kobayashi, has to say about hardware development costs, “Costs fluctuate with the specifications and requirements of your individual product. For example, a product that connects via Bluetooth takes more engineering than a device that just displays LEDs. It is always best to consult with design and manufacturing experts to get a clear answer on what your specific development costs will be.”

These costs do add up and it is easy to see why so many startups have turned to crowdfunding for their inventions. While crowdfunding is a fantastic resource, you need to nail down all of the costs required to bring your product to market first. Too often entrepreneurs underestimate the costs of bringing their product to market, and even after a successful crowdfunding campaign, can’t deliver on their promise to customers.

The most obvious example of underestimating costs is the Coolest Cooler, which was wildly successful and raised more than $13 million on Kickstarter in 2014, but over a year later many backers still have not received their coolers. Only after the Kickstarter campaign ended and manufacturing began, did the founders realize they set the price tag too low for the coolers—this one mistake has quickly turned into a nightmare scenario for the startup and the customers that pre-ordered through Kickstarter.

While all of these costs can and will fluctuate based on your specific product needs. These estimates are provided to help give you an idea on how much each stage in the product development process will cost, so that you and your team can plan accordingly.

Have questions about bringing your product to market? Let’s chat! Send your questions our way, info@3d-inovations.com

If you are looking for assistance in launching a product, check out our manufacturing and commercialization accelerator, Startup Connector.

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3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

Startup Connector is a Manufacturing Accelerator helping companies commercialize—turning ideas into products.

Subscribe to the 3D Innovations newsletter on our Facebook page!

Connect with us on TwitterFacebook & LinkedIn today

Startup Connector: Hardware Is Hard—Don’t Let That Deter You

April 13, 2016
3D Innovations

It’s true, hardware is hard, but the reward you get from launching a successful product makes the journey well worth it. Inventors and entrepreneurs are always looking for ways to create something different that has a real impact on society. Their brains never stop, never rest. They are always evaluating ideas and questioning ‘facts’. You can easily glance around any home or office and see the inventions that pioneers have perfected, and how these products have been integrated into our everyday lives. It is this rush and feel of accomplishment, that fuels the makers and hardware startups of the world.

StartupConnectorlogoThe path to hardware success is often bumpy, full of roadblocks and unexpected turns along the way. Founders of Startup Connector, Collin Kobayashi and Bob Nakata, know all too well the challenges facing hardware startups. “What we’ve seen is that there are a lot of products being developed, and there are different points where the companies get off track—whether it’s not having the right technical expertise, or not having the right experience, or not knowing where to go,” Kobayashi said. “The main gap that we’ve seen is that these companies can get through testing and prototyping, but really get stuck on getting their data package ready for full-scale production. One of the biggest pitfalls hardware startups run into are testing and certification requirements.”

With all of the challenges facing hardware startups, it is good to have knowledgeable and experienced professionals at your fingertips. Why not make the path to hardware startup success a little easier? This was the driving thought behind Startup Connector, a Hawaii-based manufacturing and commercialization accelerator. “Our main objective is to work with hardware development companies, to get them ready for full scale manufacturing. Getting them through the whole product development cycle, beyond prototyping to mass production.”

Advances in technology and manufacturing methods are ushering in a new wave of opportunity for hardware startups. Investors are taking notice of the hardware revolution, and helping propel the movement forward. If you have been mulling over a product idea or searching for the “right time” to focus on product development, now is your time.

Ready to partner with manufacturing and commercialization experts for your next project? Startup Connector is now accepting applications. Apply today! Getting your application in early will let us connect with you and keep you informed of the upcoming start dates.

*All quotes are from the Bytemarks Café interview conducted November 2015.

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3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

Startup Connector is a Manufacturing Accelerator helping companies commercialize—turning ideas into products.

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Market Testing Is Vital For Hardware Startup Success

March 21, 2016
3D Innovations

goalSuccessfully launching a product is one of the best feelings in the world—you have nurtured an idea, spent time developing it and now it is in the hands of consumers. However, as entrepreneurs know, before you get to the “launch” there are hundreds of steps in between. Market testing is one of these steps and is vital to your product’s success.

What is Market Testing?

Market testing is getting your product idea and prototype into the hands of potential buyers and asking for their feedback. The feedback provided is related to all aspects of the productprice point, functionality and overall design. You are asking for real and honest feedback to help perfect your idea and make sure everything is in place for a successful launch. The information you glean from testing your market is the most valuable out there, since these are potential buyers/clients and you want to make sure that their needs are met.

Is Market Testing Expensive?

Market testing does take time, but it doesn’t have to drain resources. While major corporations spend the big bucks on market testing, that doesn’t mean you have to. Look at your current social and business networks and start testing your product idea and prototype with these individuals. You can then expand your test market as you progress in the product development timeline.

Your time and money are extremely valuable, and can’t afford to waste them by investing them in producing a product that fails in the marketplace. The more you test your product before you produce and sell it, the more likely you are to earn the sales and profits that you desire.

Build Excitement Around Your Product Launch

Market testing is another way of building excitement about your product. We recently  worked with the Menehunes as they developed their product, pitched it at a community startup event and launched a crowdfunding campaign. However, before launching their Kickstarter page, these young entrepreneurs had the foresight to reach out to their target market, and let these potential buyers test the product and provide them with feedback. The feedback not only helped hone in on the final design, but it also connected them with some of their first Kickstarter backers. It is never too early to start building excitement around your product’s launch.

Testing your target market is one of the many steps before launch, but it is one that should not be overlooked or undervalued. Continually testing your target market can help ensure your product’s success.

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3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

Startup Connector is a Manufacturing Accelerator helping companies commercialize—turning ideas into products.

Subscribe to the 3D Innovations newsletter on our Facebook page!

Connect with us on TwitterFacebook & LinkedIn today

 

 

Product Development: Project Cost Estimate

March 7, 2016
3D Innovations

industrial_design-handleAs a product development firm we receive weekly inquiries from entrepreneurs looking to develop their idea. We love speaking with these entrepreneurs because their enthusiasm is contagious! There is always one question that comes up most often and early in the conversation, “How much will it cost to develop my idea?”While this indeed is extremely important, there are some additional pieces of information we, and any product development firm, will need about your idea before we can answer it. Discussing the below questions will not only help us provide a quote, but they also give us a better idea on the entire product development timeline as well.

  • Do you have 2D or 3D CAD drawings for your idea?
  • Have you defined the functional aspects of your product?
  • Have you built an initial prototype?
  • Do you know what materials you would like to use?

It is alright to not have firm answers to all of these questions yet, we will discuss them further in our initial conversation.

Going from “idea to product” is always exciting! If you are interested in developing a product, let’s schedule a time to chat, so we can begin collaboration on a ‪‎design‬ plan. We can be reached by e-mail at info@3d-innovations.com or by phone at +1.808.722.8667 We look forward to talking to you!

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3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

Startup Connector is a Manufacturing Accelerator helping companies commercialize—turning ideas into products.

Subscribe to the 3D Innovations newsletter on our Facebook page!

Connect with us on TwitterFacebook & LinkedIn today

Startup Connector: Hardware Startups Are Gaining Momentum

February 26, 2016
3D Innovations

Silicon Valley, and much of the startup community, has been enthralled with software for years, but the tides are turning and hardware startups are gaining momentum. Investors are taking hardware startups serious—since 2010, venture capital investment in hardware startups is up more than 30x (Tech Crunch). Venture capital investment in connected device hardware startups reached approximately $1.48 billion in 2014, more than triple the amount of two years earlier.

A New Wave Of Opportunity

3D Printing Services | Rapid Prototyping Services | 3D-innovationsAdvances in technology, coupled with hardware accelerators and incubators, are ushering in a new wave of opportunity for hardware entrepreneurs. Creating a functional prototype is no longer a hassle thanks to design software advances and 3D printing technology. Entrepreneurs are able to design and develop prototypes in a matter of days instead of months. After the prototype is complete, many of these hardware incubators and accelerators then help turn this prototype into a working, production-ready product within a matter of months.

By reducing the product development timeline, startups are able to get their idea built, tested, manufactured and on to store shelves much faster than we have ever seen before. Fitbit, Nest and GoPro are prime examples of companies that have paved the wave for hardware startups and demonstrated to investors that there is tremendous profitability in this startup segment. While distribution and manufacturing still have their inherent challenges for hardware startups, they are becoming more and more accessible.

Reaching Out To The Crowd

Hardware startups are tapping into their network and reaching out to the crowd. While crowdfunding has continued to revolutionize investing as we know it, hardware startups are reaping the benefits. A quick search on Kickstarter shows you that there are hundreds of hardware startups at any given time searching for funding. One of the most notable, The Coolest Cooler, raised $13 million (26x their funding goal) in 2014. Reaching consumers used to be a challenge, but that is no longer the case. Crowdfunding is not only helping raise capital, it is also validating ideas and build a relationship with consumers early-on.

An Exciting Future

“When building a new hardware product becomes as easy as making an iPhone app, we will have truly ushered in a golden era of innovation.” Hardware startups are playing a critical role in making the new industrial revolution a reality. As barriers to entry continue to diminish, we will begin to see more hardware startups debut and increased investor activity.

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3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

Startup Connector is a Manufacturing Accelerator helping companies commercialize—turning ideas into products.

Subscribe to the 3D Innovations newsletter on our Facebook page!

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Failure: An Essential Part Of Invention And Success

February 18, 2016
3D Innovations

churchhillFailure is inevitable, however it is how we handle this failure that shapes our future.90% of startups fail,” yet many entrepreneurs who experience failure would rather bury their head in a pillow, sweep it under the rug and move on. While this is human nature, taking time to reflect on the failure is essential for future success. With failure there are always lessons to be learned, and as we see it, failure is just a hurdle on your way to success. Below are three types of failure that entrepreneurs experience but rarely want to talk about.

Product Design Failure. Product development is a complicated process and design failures happen for a number of reasonsthe solution is to minimize failures through prototyping and testing. The last thing you want to do is find a defect once your product has been manufactured. Avoid this costly mistake by taking the time to design, prototype and test your idea. Rushing to the manufacturing stage before the product has been adequately tested by your team, and market test group, significantly increases your potential for failure.

Funding Failure. The simple truth is that not all crowdfunding campaigns are successful and not all investors are going to believe in your project. If you plan to pursue crowdfunding for your idea, then take the time to set up a campaign that creates momentum, excite people with a superb video and provide incentives that people actually want. The great thing about crowdfunding is that it is forgiving, and if your first campaign failsreevaluate, redesign and relaunch a few months later. Remember the Coolest Cooler? The first campaign for it was a total flop in 2013, but in 2014 they tried again and the campaign raised a total of $13 million (26x their funding goal)!

If you plan on meeting with investors to help fund your startup, keep in mind that it is rare to find the perfect investor during your first pitch. Research investment companies that are interested in your product offering and target investors that have similar business interests as your own. Master your pitch and present a flawless presentation to get investors excited about your idea.

Startup Failure. Out of the three types of failure we are discussing, this is the hardest one to move on from. Entrepreneurs pour their heart and soul into their startup, so when it fails, it is particularly devastating. While startups fail for a variety of reasons, the top reason startups fail is that they are making a product no one wants. “A careful survey of failed startups determined that 42% of them identified the ‘lack of a market need for their product’ as the single biggest reason for their failure.” If you are going to spend time and energy making a product, make sure it’s the right product for your target market.

Business failure in any capacity is not particularly enjoyable, however it does not mean that it is the end. While success is easy to talk about, keep in mind that no great success was ever achieved without failure.

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3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

Startup Connector is a Manufacturing Accelerator helping companies commercialize—turning ideas into products.

Subscribe to the 3D Innovations newsletter on our Facebook page!

Connect with us on TwitterFacebook & LinkedIn today

Business Accelerators, Incubators & Co-Working Spaces—Which is Best?

January 29, 2016
3D Innovations

Launching a startup? Scaling your current business? There are tons of resources available to entrepreneurs out there. However, finding the exact resources to fit your precise needs can be slightly more challenging. Business accelerators, incubators and co-working spaces all offer similar services with slight ‘tweaks’, the lines between them get blurry. We have defined each below to help you make an informed decision on what is best for your business.

Accelerators

StartupConnectorlogoTime is of the essence with accelerators. With experts by your side, accelerators aim to launch your startup in a matter of weeks or months, instead of years. Traditionally there is an application process that an entrepreneur is required to complete before being accepted into an accelerator program. However once you are accepted, you are thrown onto the fast track of scaling your business. The product development timeline is drastically reduced, which makes the incubation period very short and intense. Accelerators aim to turn business ideas into prototypes or products that are ready to go to market quickly—mere months. Sponsors provide initial funding and expertise to small groups that can demonstrate a great product idea. In return, the sponsors take a small equity stake in the new business, on average less then 10%.

With business accelerators the emphasis is on rapid growth and a successful product launch. At the end of the period, the entrepreneurs have the opportunity to make a pitch to venture capitalists to obtain further funding. A business accelerator is therefore more suitable for startups that want to reduce time to market, rather than grow gradually.

Incubators

Business incubators provide businesses with office space and shared facilities, such as telecommunications systems and internet connections, in a dedicated building. Entrepreneurs can access advice and guidance from professionals such as accountants, marketing consultants and business advisers who are associated with the incubation center and act as mentors. Entrepreneurs typically stay in an incubation center for three to five years, although there is no minimum or maximum period.

New businesses find that rents are lower in incubation centers—typically 25 to 50 percent less than commercial rents, depending on the region you are in. They benefit from networking opportunities, the mentoring and professional advice available and the contacts with other entrepreneurs that provide a stimulating environment for growth.

Co-Working Space

Technology advances mean that you no longer need to be tethered to a single office to get work done. Co-working spaces offer cheap office space and business facilities for entrepreneurs, but more than that, they provide the opportunity to ‘rub elbows’ with other entrepreneurs and freelancers. The networking opportunities are vast. Similar to accelerators and incubators, there is access to basic shared office facilities and mentors in various fields.  Many of the people in co-working spaces find it inspiring to work around other like-minded entrepreneurs.

Co-working spaces offer flexibility and the least amount of structure out of the three options. These spaces can accommodate a growing team and don’t require a firm lease commitment like traditional office space. Many co-working spaces are funded through memberships, however, there are a few out there that are free (i.e.Gangplank).

Please feel free to send any additional questions you may have to info@3d-innovations.com. We look forward to chatting!

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3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

Startup Connector is a Manufacturing Accelerator helping companies commercialize—turning ideas into products.

Subscribe to the 3D Innovations newsletter on our Facebook page!

Connect with us on TwitterFacebook & LinkedIn today

Startup Connector: Cohort #2 Application Available

January 27, 2016
3D Innovations

StartupConnectorlogoIf you missed the Startup Connector application for our first cohort, don’t fret! The application for our second cohort is available. We are currently in the process of evaluating applications and conducting interviews for our first group, but welcome you to apply for the second cohort that will be kicking off later this year. Getting your application in early will let us connect with you and keep you informed of the upcoming start dates.

What is Startup Connector? Startup Connector is a Manufacturing Accelerator (located in Honolulu, Hawaii) that supports hardware startups. Accelerator programs are time-specific, mentorship-driven programs designed to connect startups with critical early-stage product development resources.

What startup programs are available? The entire Startup Connector manufacturing and commercialization program focuses on providing an in-depth and highly technical 10 week program to support companies who are ready to commercialize their products. There are two 10 week tracks in which inventors and entrepreneurs can apply. Track 1 is the “Business Startup Program” and covers all of the basics (and more) in relation to launching a product. Track 2  is the “Design/Manufacturing Program” and delves into the world of product development and manufacturing. View the specifics of each track on the Startup Connector website.

Have additional questions about Startup Connector? Please email them to info@startup-connector.com

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3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

Startup Connector is a Manufacturing Accelerator helping companies commercialize—turning ideas into products.

Subscribe to the 3D Innovations newsletter on our Facebook page!

Connect with us on TwitterFacebook & LinkedIn today

The Single Most Important Piece Of Advice A Startup Needs To Hear

January 21, 2016
3D Innovations

Starting a business is hard and each business comes with its own unique set of challenges; however, there are universal pieces of advice that span industry, geography, and demographics. We recently sat down with 3D Innovations Founder, Collin Kobayashi, to discuss startups and the best piece of advice entrepreneurs need to hear. While Collin has vast experience starting and managing 3D Innovations, he has recently embarked on another venture, co-founding Startup Connector, a manufacturing accelerator here in Honolulu, Hawaii. With both companies he has had the privilege of working with visionary entrepreneurs and assisting them in the launch of their startups. Through his many meetings and time around entrepreneurs, like himself, he has found one piece of advice to be crucial for success, “Never underestimate the power of persistence”.

goalThis piece of advice reaches into every single aspect of starting a business, from market research to funding. In terms of market research, whether you are developing software or hardware, understanding the market you are creating a product for is critical. Be persistent in your research of the market and take the time to meet with various experts in the field. Validating your product is critical, and validation is best when it comes from both your target market and other technical experts. Have meetingslots of meetingswith potential mentors, experienced entrepreneurs and development experts in your industry.

Funding is another hurdle almost every startup faces, and here persistence will also serve you well. Whether it is gaining the attention of VCs or applying for funding, you need to be steadfast, determined and persistent. It might take some time to get meetings with the right people in place, but keep pushing forward until you get a response. Always remember, that if one door closes, seek to open others.

What is the single best piece of business advice you have been given?

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3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

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