Happy Anniversary, Backers!
Dear Kickstarter Backers,
Happy Anniversary!! One year ago we received the go-ahead, via your support, to launch our startup with the production of the Gigabot, the world's largest industrial strength 3D printer that you can take home with you. Since one year goes by so fast, and yet seems so far away, we thought we'd take you all on a quick trip down memory lane.
Looking Back on Year One
Flashback to March 2013: "re:3D, LLC" is appearing in Austin at SxSW Interactive. We had just clicked “Launch” on our $40,000 Gigabot Kickstarter campaign. Samantha was in Chile and the rest of our small team was in Austin, but all of us were glued to the Kickstarter app on our phones. We watched with nervous excitement as backers from Chile to Paris, and from New York City to Australia, were enabling our socially-minded startup with each and every backing.
Less than 48 hours after that <click> on Kickstarter, it was confirmed: our opportunity to deliver Gigabot would be funded. The coming days were even more shocking, as we started to realize just how many of them we would likely produce. And in May 2013, with a viable plan in hand, we hit the ground running.
Looking back on that critical time, we see that we were very new at everything, but very open to learning from our friends at StartUP Chile and around the world. Using the seed funding and moral support from you, our Kickstarter backers, along with some great advising and partnerships along the way, we grew up fast.
A Distributed Team Born from a Distributed Backing
Fun fact: Amazingly, our founding team had never been physically in the same room at once until almost two months AFTER our campaign was funded. Due to Samantha's residence in Chile, and operations split between Austin and Houston, the growing team relied heavily on distributed tools: a suite of Skype chats for targeted discussions, video conferencing for weekly (and sometimes daily) meetings, and shared online docs for just about every aspect of the company's business. It was online where we functioned and interacted, but it was in that physical room in July when we solidified our corporate personality, compass, and vision.
In the months following we made some technical decisions to update the design (based on experiences in Chile with GB1), moved into our first (shortly afterwards, our second) physical office space. We learned a TON about international and domestic shipping, 120 lbs at a time. Standardizing processes was a main theme, because ever since that first day at SxSW, the team knew that this would NOT be a company run simply out of a garage – although we still make very good use of a couple of them!
Beginning to Scale
As our Kickstarter community grew, so did re:3D's internal community. By the second half of 2013, partnerships and different versions of “employment” took shape in a lean, nimble, and effective bootstrap mode which we continue today. Together this growing team developed packaging techniques and assembly instructions from scratch as we machined custom parts in-house. These efforts, under the eager eyes of our Kickstarters, soon saw serial numbers GB2-001 through -010 go out the door as autumn began to appear in Houston.
As 2014 arrived, our focus turned to a “surge” shipping of the remaining Kickstarter shipments, additional manufacturing for our new pre-orders, while developing a quality online customer service experience – which included setting up tools for self-service as well. We were thankful but not surprised that so many of you were willing to jump in and contribute – to the Google+ community, our Facebook page, and most importantly, the online assembly instructions. As a result of your Kickstarter feedback, you will see new instructional videos on our YouTube channel, coming in the next several weeks.
An Evolving Founding Team
As re:3D Inc. approaches another team retreat, we will once again take time from the constant demands of a bootstrapping startup to focus on continuous improvement. Our founding team has evolved. Our community has evolved. We have learned a lot from you, our Kickstarter backers. Whether you backed for a shout-out on re3D.org, or chose a three-pack of Gigabots, we are eternally grateful for your faith in our team, our first product, and the 3D printing industry's ability to create new wonders.
Looking now to the future, will the next wonder be prosthesis for a young child, an amazing model of modern architecture, or something cast in bronze from a 3D printed mold? Will we see a rise in human-scale objects created from local raw materials? Or will unique material selection be the biggest surprise as we experiment with relative unknowns such as human tissues and bio-compatible polymers? re:3D knows that the future is an exciting blank slate (or build platform) - but we believe that with a global view, a common vision, and an ability to pivot with the large-scale 3D printing industry, re:3D Kickstarter backers will be forever proud of their investment.
Next Small Steps and Giant Leaps
With our collective future in mind, we’d like to close this update with an exciting announcement. We recently delivered Gigabot #100 to the Freeman Branch of the Harris County Public Library system, right here in Houston. To commemorate how far we have come in the past year, re:3D has partnered with YouNoodle, 3D Hubs, Instructables, Stgo Makerspace and Start-Up Chile to #giveabot (yes, donate a Gigabot!) to an individual or group with a BIG idea for making a HUGE difference using large-format 3D printing.
You can check it out at: https://www.younoodle.com/competitions/great_big_gigabot_giveaway
“The Great Big Gigabot Giveaway” is our small attempt to thank the many people and organizations that supported us this past year - and allowed Gigabot #100 to enter the world. Through this partnership with our many friends, we hope to accelerate a conversation and recognize the many positive outcomes that 3D printing can achieve, in order to solve the world’s toughest challenges.
Once again, as our Kickstarters, THANK YOU for making all of this possible.
The re: 3D Team
P.S. - Feel like you’re missing out? We’re still waiting to hear back from a couple of backers to coordinate their Gigabot delivery. If that’s you, please, please, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org - we can’t wait to send your reward and see what you print! And of course, if you backed at the shout-out or t-shirt level and are interested in the full package - or just need some more filament or a shiny new wheeled platform for your Gigabot, http://re3d.myshopify.com is the place to be... tell your friends!