Craftcloud and All3DP are two names that anyone involved in 3D printing should take note of. It’s exactly this market that the Munich startup All3DP has managed to shake up with its online magazine and comparison platform for 3D printing services. An interview with Mathias Plica, co-founder and CEO of the startup.
1. Who are you and what do you do?
With Craftcloud, we run a price comparison platform for 3D printing services and pass along online orders in the market. For anyone who needs 3D printed parts and wants to select the materials and compare prices, Craftcloud is just the site for you. Our customers place orders online on our platform and we pass the orders on to our partners, 3D print service providers, in real time. Our partners then print and send products directly to our customers — worldwide.
Our second product is All3DP.com, an English online magazine about 3D printing and additive manufacturing. All3DP has become the world’s leading magazine on the subject. We have approximately 1.5 million readers monthly, which means we have more readers than all other websites on the subject put together. Around 100,000 readers are from Germany, 500,000 are from North America and the remaining roughly one million are from the rest of the world, but the majority are in Europe.
We run it all from Schwanthalerhöhe (Munich’s Westend) with a team of twenty full-time employees who come from fifteen different countries. Our founding team comes from the field of digital publishing. My co-founder, Stefan Schwarz-Ulrich – a mathematician –and I, Mathias Plica – an economist –, had the opportunity to build Chip Online over a ten year time period and did so with a fantastic team then as well. Our third co-founder, Anatol Locker, is a tech journalist with his heart and soul and has pretty much seen everything that has anything to do with technology.
20 employees from 15 countries
2. But that’s nothing out of the box!
Yes it is. There are a multitude of professional 3D print service providers worldwide. There have been and still are a series of attempts at running comparison platforms for these print service providers. None of them have managed to pull it off. With Craftcloud, we’re the only ones who have been successful. The reason why: As with all two-sided marketplaces — which Craftcloud is — you need to have a critical mass of customers to be able to get and keep partners on board. Acquiring customers in our market is expensive. That is, unless you have a complete online magazine as a customer acquisition tool. Our customer acquisition costs are exponentially lower than the competition. That is our unfair advantage — and it’s tough to copy.
It took quite a while for All3DP to convince its investors
3. What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Two challenges stand out among the many we’ve faced. Getting to the point of having a product-market fit for our 3D printing platform Craftcloud cost us countless MVPs and product iterations over a three year time period. Things have been going well for 18 months now with 20 percent growth each month.
Another challenge was financing: Try explaining to an investor that you want to create a hybrid between content and commerce and that the commerce element is also a marketplace. That seemed complex. Now everyone immediately understands that the content website is the perfect marketing tool for our Craftcloud marketplace.
4. Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty: How is business going?
We will have made two million euros in revenue in 2019 and will break even; and that is with 150 percent revenue growth compared to last year. We’ve achieved 150 percent growth for the third year in a row and aren’t planning on slowing down.
150 percent revenue growth
5. What does Munich mean to you?
Working internationally from Munich works exceptionally well. We often had a tough time during our first pitches because investors had doubts about whether it would be possible to run an English, globally active platform from Munich.
We’ve proven otherwise. Because everything runs on the cloud now anyway, where a company is located geographically is irrelevant. And we always find good employees in Munich — even and most particularly with an international background.
A secret tip for recruiting: Munich attracts a lot of young IT professionals from around the world. And they commonly come with a spouse who is also highly skilled, but they often have difficulties on the job market in the beginning due to the German language. Because English is our working language, we’ve been able to find excellent employees from that group of spouses.
3D printing as a global niche
6. How will your startup become the next unicorn? Or will we be seeing you at an Epic Fail Night soon?
We’re on more of a unicorn path. With our 1.5 million readers, we’re already the current global leader and point of contact for 3D printing online. We don’t want to give up that leading position. 3D printing is still a niche market, but that niche is global.
With Craftcloud, we’ve only dipped our toe into the 12 trillion euro market for the manufacturing of physical goods: We’re part of a massively growing manufacturing-as-a-service market. There’s still a lot of potential for growth.
7. Tea or coffee?
Coffee. In copious amounts.