John Hauer, co-founder and CEO of 3DLT
, sees the value of running a business in the Northern Kentucky region, referring to it as a "marketing and branding mecca."
Marketing and branding culture is central to the online 3D printing template marketplace that connects designers, consumers and producers of 3D printing. Through 3DLT, independent designers create 3D printable files that consumers and retailers can purchase.
Hauer started the Covington-based printing company 3DLT in 2012, with co-founders Pablo Arellano Jr. and Colin Klayer.
Hauer, Arellano and Klayer chose Northern Kentucky for its central location and its proximity to the leading brands that call the tri-state home. Covington's location provides the printing company access to reach 62 percent of the population by ground shipping in less than two days.
"You can't get much better on location than the tri-state with P&G, Macy's and Koger. The list just goes on and on. It is the perfect place for our company," Hauer said.
Northern Kentucky's UpTech supports 3DLT's business model change
In the spring of 2013, Hauer went to TechCrunch Disrupt
, an inaugural technology conference in New York, and upon return he saw a need to make changes to the company's business model.
He found UpTech
, a Northern Kentucky high-tech accelerator that supports local start-ups, and hasn't looked back.
UpTech provides companies access to resources, connections, and tools during the start-up process. The company partners with Northern Kentucky University's College of Informatics and uses the research capabilities of a major university to achieve their vision.
"In August we applied to the UpTech accelerator program, and we were accepted. It was a straightforward process. We took a shot on UpTech, and they took a shot with us," Hauer said.
Before working with UpTech, 3DLT had a business-to-consumer model for the business. The company focused primarily on content, consumer sales. UpTech helped modify 3DLT's business model and the company has since evolved into a business-to-business platform.
Amanda Greenwell, UpTech's program manager, recognized 3DLT's ability to take what they learned and use it to develop a stronger company and brand.
"3DLT took full advantage of our program, and of every opportunity that we afforded them. They were present, and not afraid to ask for help. If 3DLT needed a mentor or student to help with a project, they asked and so we were able to effectively help them," Greenwell said.
The company has shifted to working with retailers, leveraging their customer base and helping them offer 3D printable products online and in-store.
"UpTech was an amazing experience for us. It pushed us to the edge, forced us to continue to improve, and gave us all the tools we needed to do that," Hauer said.
Change is good
A business-to-consumer platform proved to be expensive and difficult, since the company was trying to create awareness in a market that didn't yet exist. By switching to a business-to-business model, 3DLT was able to tap into their existing clients customer base and expand their reach.
Since changing their marketing plan, 3DLT has garnered significant interest, including a new potential relationship with online retail giant Amazon. 3DLT continues to consider many other potential partners.
"We're excited by the potential of a partnership with Amazon," said Hauer in a recent online press release. "They've become an eCommerce juggernaut, in part due to their ability to capitalize on innovations."
The future is bright for 3DLT
Hauer takes the recent success as a sign that good things are going to happen for 3DLT. He knows the 3D print industry has not been fully tapped, and sees opportunities in partnership, investment and acquisition.
In addition to substantial growth for 3DLT, Hauser believes that new companies could evolve from efforts at building the infrastructure around 3D printing. The company will continue to expand presence with other retailers and work with the retailers to define and deliver a positive in-store experience.
"We are committed to helping our retail partners own the 3D printing experience. We're working with their ecommerce, marketing, merchandising and store operations teams to create offerings that are unique and appealing to each retailer's customers. We're all about differentiating our clients and driving traffic to their stores," Hauer said.
"3DLT has the potential to become a billion dollar brand. We're developing an ecosystem. Further, many other new companies could evolve from our efforts at building the infrastructure around 3D printing," he said.