You’ll never change an industry by following what's already been done. Few people know this better than the team at Mosaic Manufacturing.
Their story starts like most entrepreneurial journeys: with a problem.
Mitchell Debora, one of Mosaic Manufacturing’s founders, was running a small 3D printing company and kept receiving the same requests over and over:
“Put my logo on it.”
“Put my kid’s name on it.”
“Make it in color. I’ll pay you 10 times the amount, I don’t care.”
But the answer was always no. The technology just wasn’t there. Yet.
You see, for a 3D printer to work with multiple colors or materials it traditionally requires a process called multiple extrusion where the printer has multiple heads—one for each different color or material. Not only does this make the printer and the process more expensive and complex, but the results are less than stellar.
Drips and drops from the inaccuracies of multiple heads going at once can quickly make your action figure look like he’s been through the trenches and back.
But a problem with no current solution (and swaths of eager customers) is every would-be entrepreneur’s dream. And so along with his fellow Queens University classmates Chris Labelle and Derek Vogt, Debora set out to find the answer.
“Back in 2012, when a regular 3D printer hit Kickstarter, it would go out and raise $600k—$1m, and now, every other week somebody’s coming out with something ‘new and innovative’ but that is really just the same as everything else,” explains Labelle, Mosaic’s COO.
“So we looked at the market and said ‘Ok, if there’s already 100 printers out there, are we really going to launch the 101st printer?’”
“Whereas, if we have a technology that is fundamentally unique and different, why not use that technology and work with these printer manufacturers to upgrade their machines and bring the entire industry forwards?”
Their solution? The Palette—a standalone unit that integrates with most existing printers on the market making them multicolor and multi-filament.
The Palette’s unique technology takes up to four separate feeds and then precisely splices them into one that feeds straight into your printer, ensuring that the right filament is being used at the right time.
“Everybody wants to be the Apple of this or that. But we look at it as more of the Intel approach. Where when we develop very deep, specific knowledge about the core technology of these products, that’s a really great way to be distributing our product and getting our product out there.”
Over the next year and a half the team would slowly perfect the Palette’s technology, moving from two to four separate filaments, securing manufacturers, and finalizing the design.
With the product becoming more of a reality, it was time for the ultimate test: Would anyone actually want this thing?
Bringing Mosaic to the masses
“Everybody wants to be the Apple of this or that. But we look at it as more of the Intel approach.”
Motivated by early press, Labelle and co. turned to the public to validate their assumptions, launching a Kickstarter campaign that racked up a staggering $100k in its first day and finished with over 300% of their initial $75k goal.
Riding off the high of the campaign, they realized that there was another serious issue that needed their attention.
“During our Kickstarter campaign, our homepage was literally a site that said ‘Come Back us on Kickstarter’,” explains Labelle. “The Kickstarter was our one goal that mattered. But once it was finished, we stepped back and realized we needed a website. One that’s actually good and not designed by me who has no web design experience at all.”
With expectant backers and those who missed out trying to make pre-orders, Labelle started weighing his options:
“We knew we had to put all our focus on the core product and so we decided early on that anything that needed to be done outside of that, we’d try to hire out.”
“The one thing I’ll say is that, I have a few problems with companies like eLance or Freelancer where you put a project up and you get bombarded by people from all over the world who have not very good portfolios, but will make you a website for $700. That’s not something that we’re looking for because that doesn’t give off the premium product vibe.
“That’s why Crew was really great for us, because we were given about five options of people we would actually want to work with.”
One of those people was Mustafa—an absolutely killer designer and developer who has worked on projects for Beats by Dre, Google, Nike, and Time Warner.
“We always talk about how there are two types of people you can work with: One is the kind where you give them a list of tasks and they’ll execute the tasks. The other is the kind you say ‘build me a website’, and they come back with a clear vision beyond what you could imagine. Mustafa, who we ended up working with, is as good an example of that second kind of person as I’ve ever met.”
Virtual handshake completed, Mustafa and Chris started to dig into the specifics of what they needed out of the site.
They wanted to capitalize on the success of their Kickstarter and the early press they’d received by creating a dynamic and eye-catching marketing site for the Palette, with pre-orders and newsletter sign ups as their main goal.
Mustafa came in with a clear vision of how they’d quickly show off the Palette’s unique selling point—with four color feeds going into the Palette and coming out as a single unified one as you scroll down the page. Next, they added social proof, a video explaining how the Palette works, press links, photos, and finally, a link to pre-order.
The result? Not only did they have a beautiful new website, but when the site launched last September their traffic increased 500%.
“Our bounce rate is now well under 20%. We’re at 25,000 page views a month. All with no marketing at all. Compared to where we were a year ago, it’s completely different.”
And, with Mustafa banging out their website design, the rest of the team is free to continue working towards the Palette’s launch date.
“It’s funny, Derek Vogt, one of our other founders, is a videographer and we hired a professional videography firm to do our Kickstarter video. We made the decision that his time is worth more in dollar value than hiring a video firm.
So having our team focused on what was important and then working with freelancers on the other stuff has let us continue to move the product really, really quickly.”
The future of 3D printing
Since bringing their idea to the world, Mosaic Manufacturing has raised close to half a million dollars through crowdfunding and startup accelerator programs, and are on track to change the world of consumer 3D printing. In the next year they’ll be shipping their first product, The Palette, and are working on an OEM version to be integrated in future printers.
Need help building a killer marketing site like Mosaic’s so you can focus on building your next world-changing product? Give us a shout and we’ll connect you with one of our killer designers like Mustafa.
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