Andreas Birnik has definitely done his homework. His studies at Harvard, Stockholm School of Economics and Cranfield University have lead to a very successful career building numerous mobile tech and communications companies over the past 17 years. Durtti wants Andreas to tell us more about his latest venture, the revolutionary CreoPop 3D pen.
What is the most inspiring or memorable piece of feedback you have had from CreoPop customers to date, Andreas?
We have received a lot of great feedback from our backers on Indiegogo and on our various social media channels. The three comments below really made me and the entire CreoPop team very happy:
“I got mine yesterday and just tried it now. my first impression – it rocks !!!”.
“I received my CreoPop today. It’s fantastic! This is the 2nd 3D pen that I have backed, the other is good (a little more than 1 year old), this one is great! I know CreoPop is using special ink, but it is very easy to use and one can use it without extensive initial practice. It is great product!”.
“Received my pen a few days ago and it´s totally awesome!”.
The name CreoPop derives from the Latin “Creo” to create and “Pop” because the ink just pops out of the pen. Did this brand name come to you before, during or after you had developed the product?
We came up with the name as we were planning our Indiegogo crowdfunding company. We had a working pen prototype for what we internally simply called “The 3D Pen Project”. We were looking for a name that had a connection to creativity, that was reasonably short, that was easily pronounceable and with an available dot com URL.
Finding an available URL turned out to be the most difficult part as there are so many domain names registered!
What, in your opinion, are the current limitations with other 3D printing tech pens at present and how have you tried to overcome these with CreoPop?
First, a majority of 3D pens in the market use heat to melt filaments of plastic to dangerously hot temperatures. If not handled correctly, there is a risk of serious burns upon skin contact with molten plastic. This is avoided with CreoPop as our pen uses LED lights to harden our light-sensitive ink.
Second, unlike pens using heat, CreoPop can be operated in a cordless mode without any charging cable getting in the way of the creative process.
Third, the CreoPop pen as well as the inks have been through extensive safety testing and third party certification to be graded as safe from age 3 and above.
Incredibly, CreoPop already works with magnetic ink, glow in the dark ink, glittering ink and even ink that is colour/temperature sensitive. What capabilities do you hope CreoPop will have 12-18 months from now based on current progress of your “material science” R & D?
As you have highlighted, the most interesting feature of CreoPop is the wide selection of inks available. We are working on a further 19 different types of inks in our R&D lab. How many inks we will be able to commercialise within the next 12-18 months remains to be seen, but we will definitely continue to innovate around materials for 3D printing.
How do you try to overcome any obstacles you face in business?
Building a hardware company is really hard work with a lot of challenges along the way. I am lucky to be surrounded by a team of smart and hard-working people who have been putting in 7-day workweeks to make CreoPop a reality.
You successfully crowd funded for CreoPop on Indiegogo. Apart from the funds raised, did you experience any other benefits from fund raising on this platform?
Absolutely. We received a lot of useful ideas for product improvement throughout our development journey. We also met many of our backers at various events around the world and had them test various prototypes and manufacturing samples so that we could get independent feedback to help us make CreoPop better.
CreoPop is now available in BestBuy stores and on their site which will significantly boost your U.S. Sales. CreoPop also has a huge Facebook following. How important do you think social media is to CreoPop now as a sales and marketing tool compared to a “metaphorical” similar product launch 5 years ago?
Social media has become very important over the past few years for a number of reasons.
First, social media has become mainstream and taken an increasingly larger share of the overall media landscape. If you are launching a technology product, leveraging social media is no longer an option; it is simply a must to reach your audience.
Second, few startups have sufficient funding for traditional media-buying like TV, print advertising and billboards. This means that startups have to become skilled at leveraging social media and reaching out to journalists and bloggers to get the buzz going without major marketing spend.
Third, given that social media enables two-way communications, it builds engagement and trust with your prospective and existing customers.
Finally, Andreas, if you had to give just 3 golden rules to someone looking to get financial backing for their business venture, what would they be?
If the three key words in real estate are “location, location, location”, the corresponding three keywords in the venture capital industry are “traction, traction, traction”.
Of course, many things matter including having an awesome product, experienced founders, a great team and solid IP protection. But at the end of the day, traction is the easiest sell to a venture capitalist.
Traction cuts through opinionated views by providing clear evidence that there is a market for your product and that someone is willing to pay real money for it.
So, my golden rule is to be very focused on demonstrating traction.
More at www.creopop.com
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