Yes, it’s sad to see a startup closing its doors and entrepreneurs going home after their dream wasn’t coming through. But I also must say that the “script was well written on the wall”.
I launched Kazzata.com about two years ago. When I launched it I was already in the end of a couple of months thinking process about what would be the strategy to enter the 3D printing industry. As my background was in digital stock photography marketplaces, my initial thought was to build a general purpose marketplace for STL files. Thingivers and Shapeways were already in the market. While I was checking the market few other general marketplaces started to emerge and I knew that I don’t want to be involved in what they were doing. Let’s admit it. Most of the general 3DP marketplaces offered childish products. It was obvious that their potential will not go beyond the makers’ community who wanted to test their newly bought 3D printer. Problem is that the makers’ community is limited in its size.
I was dam sure that it will take much more time for the regular consumers’ audience to enter into this market and to replace the limited buying power of the makers.
Then I decided to open a specialized marketplace for spare parts. No Yodas, no monsters no smartphone covers. Only spare parts. This was two years ago, when I launched the company with a partner. Since we are technical savvy we built a nice web site so manufacturers and makers will be able to upload spare parts. Indeed, few makers uploaded their reconstructed parts but manufacturers didn’t come. We wanted to attract mainly manufacturers not makers but they told us that they don’t want to lose control and upload their parts to a 3rd party web site.
So about a year ago we understood that 3DP marketplace is no longer viable business. Even for a specialized spare part marketplace. We then changed our business model to a cloud service and just now finished our MVP with funding from Fabulous (the 3DP EU accelerator).
Now the power is moving to the manufacturers. With our platform (which is a cloud service on their own web site) they can start sell physical products which for the long run, they keep as digital files only (no physical inventory). When a product is being ordered (and paid) the file and 3D printing instructions will be routed to a pre-approved – manufacturing grade – 3DP service bureau. The service bureau will be located in the closest proximity to the ordering customer as possible.
We are starting to recruit manufacturers and we hope that such a business model will be successful, and will attract manufacturers rather than makers for real commercial profits.
Now we are in the business of “supply chain management” instead of the marketplace business.