Startups
Crowdfunding / Technology

After success on Kickstarter, a 3D printing CEO started his own crowdfunding platform

M3D is debuting its new printer on the site, called FitForLaunch. It's designed to provide backers with a way to preorder the product they're funding, and make sure they receive it.

M3D is launching the Promega on their own crowdfunding site. (Courtesy photo)

M3D is launching a new 3D printer called the Promega, and they’re turning to crowdfunding to help with its release.
It’s a familiar approach for a company who had three prior projects debut on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, but this time is a little different.
That’s because the crowdfunding platform was started by the company.
CEO Michael Armani and several team members at the Fulton-based company are running FitForLaunch. The Promega is one of several products that launched on the site earlier this month. Striking out on their own is a bold move, especially for a company that had one of the all-time best campaigns on Kickstarter.
But the success also provided insight about how crowdfunding could be improved. M3D’s VP of Sales and Operations Katherine Otte said other platforms essentially function as a “flash deal site” that stops being a source of deals after the campaign ends. We’ve also heard that marketing is the true value.
Along with their success, M3D also utilized crowdfunding in a unique way. Backers received one of the company’s 3D printers as a reward for their pledge, meaning they were essentially pre-ordering through Kickstarter. With that in mind, Armani looked to create a platform that could be a sustainable source of sales. The Promega is a large 3D printer targeting the commercial market, which is a difference from previous printers that were aiming for consumers. Being a project that’s described as “overengineered,” the Promega is designed so new features are rolled out during the campaign.
“We wanted steady sales so we created a platform where we could slowly increase the price as we revealed new product details – and it’s working perfectly, sales are steady and predictable, and we have control over them,” Otte said.
There are a few other features with FitforLaunch. Companies get paid daily rather than weeks after their campaign closes. Trust was also a big issue, as stories of failure and fraud started to show up in the 3D printing world. The platform guarantees that backers who put money down for a product will receive it within 12 months. In a case where a company shuts down, FitForLaunch may even complete manufacturing of a product that is not their own.
“We wanted a system where we could guarantee deliveries to backers officially,” Otte said.
The projects are reviewed before campaigns can begin, and FitForLaunch has its own process for considering risk. According to the FitForLaunch website, three more campaigns are in the pipeline along with the Promega. The site will host campaigns for tech projects, design projects, and games.
There’s a lot of catching up ahead, user-wise, but the team has shown they know crowdfunding.

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