Neil Brennan of 3DBakery
Meet Neil Brennan, founder of 3DBakery, a 3D printing company.
What is 3DBakery?
3DBakery is a 3D-printing startup in Northeast Ohio. The simplest analogy of what we do, and the inspiration for our name, is to think about how a traditional bakery works. A bakery uses essentially the same ingredients – flour, sugar, milk, eggs, etcetera – placed in an oven to produce a variety of unique and tasty products. The key difference between the products is the recipe. That's our process too. The same materials go in, and what comes out of the 3D printer is based on the recipe. For us, the recipe is the CAD (computer-aided design) file that contains your item.
Our niches in the 3D printing universe are full-color prototyping capabilities, and a focus on consumer products, like a 3D business card. Most 3D printers can print in only one color, but our printer allows us to quickly create a prototype model with up to 390,000 colors. The result is decreased product development time, a demo product for an investment pitch, and a much less expensive alternative to injection molded prototypes.
How did you come up with the idea?
I first saw a 3D printer on YouTube in the fall of 2011 and was instantly captivated. I met one of my business partners later that year, and after some kitchen table discussions, decided to launch 3DBakery in late 2012.
What was the biggest surprise in starting your business?
I co-founded two businesses in the past, and it’s always surprising to encounter the vast number of details that must be addressed before the doors open. I thrive on details, but it demonstrates the importance of having at least one company co-founder who’s detail-oriented.
What does a typical day in your business look like?
Communicating, problem solving and delivering. I spend at least one hour a day keeping up on the latest 3D printing news, because one should never stop learning.
What are some of the advantages to doing business in Ohio?
I truly love this state for many personal reasons. But of business advantages, I’d have to say it’s the creativity of Ohio’s residents that makes the state stand out from the crowd. We’re overall very good at solving complex state and local issues with creative solutions. Yes, Ohio, we’re awesome.
What resources or organizations in Ohio did you take advantage of and how did they help?
I’ve had the opportunity to speak at several local Rotary Clubs over the part couple months on the topic of 3D printing, and the number of meaningful connections and conversations I’ve had with local business owners is very meaningful on both business and personal levels. I’d challenge you to plug-in to your community, because otherwise you’re missing out on a rich part of the human experience.
What inspires you?
I believe that the primary purpose of humankind is to glorify God in all we do, which includes working on a 3D printing startup. I’m inspired by the massive scope of my purpose.
What founders do you admire and why?
I admire founders who remain humble when success arrives. I’ve seen so many people, including myself, who bypass opportunities because of the blinding effect of pride. As our startup grows, I want to constantly be connecting with those who have learned to remain humble in the midst of fame and fortune. I have so much to learn from them.
What’s next for you?
I honestly can’t say. Thankfully I’m not the one in the driver’s seat on this road trip called life. I’m excited to see where this journey leads.
Interview by Joe Baur