FabGate is the first 3D-Printing & Rapid Prototyping marketplace where you can print your 3D models. On the one hand, you can get your printed products faster than using the other online 3D-printing services. On the other hand, it brings more orders to the manufacturers and therefore creates revenue from the free capacity of their 3D printers.My co-founder Ehsan, who is one of my friends for many years, and I have built this whole project by ourselves. A couple of weeks after launching the webpage in December 2012, FabGate attracted around 1000 users and more than 10 companies that are offering 3D printing with various materials. You can choose from different sorts of plastic and metal, e.g. gold and titanium.
The process of using FabGate is very easy. After uploading a 3D model, you can simply look up a list of manufacturers which are able to produce your model with the material of your choice. Because the manufacturers are local, the shipping time can be reduced to days instead of weeks. We want to make the whole process of manufacturing as easy as clicking one button. Furthermore we want to facilitate the interaction between the 3D model creators and the manufacturers.In general, Ehsan and I want to give people new tools in their hands so they can have an impact in this world and push the borders of what is possible. We hope that FabGate is going to be such a tool for manufacturing products.
I am a non-professional 3D designer and when I wanted to print my 3D designs, I was not happy with the current online printing services, because they delivered the products after 4-6 weeks. Hence we started to work on this marketplace that solves the problem by giving printing orders to local manufacturers.
Actually we have already experienced our first big problem which was the designing of the logo. It took us way longer than a design of the logo should take, we were reviewing it with the designer for almost 100 times. Even though it has cost us lots of money, at the end we have thrown it away. Now we just use a standard font. It is easy to read and easy to remember. It was a good exercise with stuff that can go wrong and now we’re moving fast and smoothly.
At the moment we are beta testing the webpage and receiving an enormous amount of feedback, which we are really thankful for and using that feedback to make our platform better. We want to be super agile, so we try to update FabGate at least twice a week. In the next weeks we will add some cool features, that we are currently working on. But we are slowly getting to the point when it is too much workload for two people and therefore we have started to look for investors and new people to join us.
The coding of FabGate started in a café. Soon enough we felt we need a calm place for work and therefore moved to the betahaus. I have been working in the betahaus for almost a year and love the fact, that I get to meet many people with various backgrounds and talk the business over with them. For instance we met Martin, who is a really cool guy. He gave us some tips on the website’s minimalistic design that we actually implemented. Max, who is a great lawyer and a co-founder of the betahaus also helped us a lot. I am a coffee addict, so I really appreciate the free coffee, too. The great thing about this place is, that there is always something going on. Thus anytime you want to take a break from work and socialize, you can come to the cafe to meet other people or attend something that is just happening around. There is a variety of stuff you can do in the betahaus. It never gets boring.
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Toni: Currently, we’ve somehow ended up in this niche of building a lot of internal tools for startups and teams. But this is not the only thing we want to do. What I like about it is that we’re starting projects from scratch and we have full control over them.
Martin: The first project we worked on was a tool for a large scale real estate development company. What they needed was a tool for their Sales people - to be able to mark their different spots and locations at different stages of the sales funnel. So we created a tool that helps them in this process.
Toni: And this one actually served as a starting point for the tool we’ve developed for betahaus, which aims to allow the Sales and Management team to see which team rooms are occupied right now, which ones are free or will be occupied in a few weeks or months, so no double bookings appear.
Alex: These two projects were more focused on real estate, let’s say, but we’ve also done more design-heavy projects like the one we did for Artique which is an online artists agency. For them, we built a whole website and an online system to present their artists starting only from their logo. It had to be very flexible, because the artists needed to be able to edit their own profiles, putting their resume, changing colours.
Toni: Honestly, we have skillsets that you don’t usually find in developers. Because we've had lives that were not just about computer science. I think to some extent this is what makes us different.
Martin: I believe one of the reasons why people pick us over other studios is because it can be very hard working with developers. If you’re not understanding their work, if the communication is not flowing, you, as a client can feel lost. We're easy to communicate with and we’re always open to feedback and we're open to discuss anything. In the end, after all iterations, if you say we need to start the website from scratch and that you don’t like the idea, we won’t take it personally.
Alex: Also, I think, since we all work as coding teachers, we are officially qualified to explain what coding is to people who don't code, which is actually really rare because a lot of developers, as Martin says, don't want to, or literally just don't know how to articulate what they're doing. Whereas we are trained in articulating what it is that we're doing, why it's meaningful and why it takes a certain amount of time.
Alex: Zimt & Mehl - the Turkish bakery around the corner. It’s just soo good.
Martin: Oh, there is this Italian restaurant called Ristorante del Arte
Tony: Oh, my God, this place is so funny. It looks like a pretty average Italian restaurant, but the whole interior design inside is just decorated in such a weird way. The entire place is covered in frescoes. They have crystal chandeliers and Easter bunnies. Some Greek columns. It has a different name on the menu, on the side and on the Internet. And it was an ex-shoe-store.
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