Munich Startup: For those who don’t know you yet: Who are you and what does Dyemansion do?
Felix Ewald: We’re Dyemansion and we develop technologies for finishing industrial 3D-printed polymer parts. This makes it possible for our customers to turn printed raw parts into high-quality products.
My co-founder Philipp (Kramer, note from editor) and I have known each other for more than 15 years and were determined to found a company together after university. After some detours, we ended up where we are today.
How the crisis has strengthened Dyemansion
Munich Startup: The first dye attempts were in your parents’ basement in 2013 – am I remembering the story right, Felix? – and now you have a team of more than 60 employees and offices in Planegg and Austin…
Felix Ewald: Yup, the story is right! We’re even a team of 78 now according to Personio.
Munich Startup: What have been your three biggest challenges in recent years? How did you deal with them?
Felix Ewald: Wow, it’s tough to say which three challenges were the biggest. The first few weeks of the corona phase were certainly quite unpleasant. We had just started a funding round, then there weren’t any more orders, someone came down with corona right away in production and we were suddenly all working from home. That was not much fun.
We were able to cope by communicating very openly and because we’re fortunate enough to be surrounded by many capable individuals. That includes our team and also investors and our partners – everyone helped us come out of the crisis even stronger!
The art of making the right decisions
Munich Startup: And what was the greatest insight you gained?
Felix Ewald: The greatest insight and the only general tip – that I would give everyone – is to surround yourself with a team of capable individuals with the right attitude.
In a startup, countless decisions are made every day. And many of them are probably wrong. The true feat is increasing the probability of making the right decisions. I think we’re in a very good position in that respect. And that helps you deal with any situation.
Munich Startup: In summer 2020, you announced the successful completion of Series B funding amounting to 12 million euros. What advice would you give other founders who have just completed a major round of funding?
Felix Ewald: I think general tips aren’t very helpful anymore after you’ve managed to pull off a round of Series B funding.
What I do hope is that they’ve chosen the right investors.
“Be damn good at one thing”
Munich Startup: You’re active in more than 30 countries and have more than 600 customers, including large corporations. With your specific products, you’re the world leader in your field. How does a startup become the world market leader? Or in more concrete terms: What tip do you have for other startups who want to grow quickly in a niche market?
Felix Ewald: Understand the niche. No one else can know more about the niche than you do. And then: focus. In this kind of niche, you’re surrounded by other opportunities. And customers also approach you and try to get you to work on other things. While you should take a look at things, it’s better to be damn good at one thing than doing a little bit here and there. Otherwise you’ll leave too much room for other contenders. Because they’re guaranteed to show up as soon as it’s obvious that you’re successful.
“Customers forgive a lot when you’re the only one out there”
Munich Startup: How was Dyemansion’s internationalization executed? What difficulties did you come across? Who did you get to help from?
Felix Ewald: To be honest, internationalization was never a priority to us. We just simply sent machines out to the entire world. That was pretty naive and sometimes I’m amazed that it didn’t all blow up in our faces but it worked. Customers forgive a lot when you’re the only one out there and the products generate a lot of value.
If we had known about everything you need to conduct international business properly back then, we probably wouldn’t have our equipment in so many countries now.
That’s probably my tip for early stages: Just do it. And then quickly grasp how to do it properly.
This was where the German Accelerator was a huge help. We were suddenly in the US for three months – and of course we had already delivered our machines – surrounded by other startups and excellent mentors. We learned so much – about international business and startups in general. I would highly recommend participating to anyone.
Munich Startup: What do you think is key for sustainable and successful business development?
Felix Ewald: Like I mentioned before: good people in your team. You can be the greatest and smartest person in the world. In the end, it’s the team and culture that determine how successful your company will be.
Munich Startup: And what’s on top of your desk at the moment?
Felix Ewald: If you mean my to-do list, then it’s the introduction for our Christmas present. If you mean physical objects, then it’s a Hoptimist. It’s a figurine with a spring under its head. When I’m stressed, I tap it on the head and its head ‘hops’ cheerfully up and down. That calms me down for some reason.