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startup competitionThere were a few parts of Inside 3D Printing Santa Clara I’d been looking forward to in particular, and at the top of that list was certainly the Startup Competition. We’ve been following the lead-up details with great interest, from the August announcement of a $15,000 uncapped convertible note for the winner via Asimov Ventures, to more details released in September regarding the event itself, to, just a couple weeks ago, the announcement of judges and participants in the lineup.

Then, finally, yesterday, the day had come: the fourth MecklerMedia Startup Competition at Inside 3D Printing was underway. I was pleased to get in early enough to find a great seat to watch the presentations. Each of the seven competing startups was given a 3-minute presentation window to showcase their technologies and business models, followed by a 3-minute Q&A session in which the judges could gain more information about the undertaking proposed.

Gathered at the judges’ table were Tyler Benster, Asimov Ventures; Steve Dow, VC veteran; Gareth Keane, Qualcomm Ventures; and Anarghya Vardhana, Rothenberg Ventures. Those gathered at the table, it was soon apparent, did not have an easy task ahead of them.

In order of presentation, the competitors included:

  1. 20151022_1157503DPrinterOS stepped on stage first, with a presentation from John Dogru, who stated that their goal is to disrupt the $12 trillion manufacturing market. We’ve been keeping up with the news from 3DPrinterOS regularly, and seeing Dogru’s slides certainly added to my understanding of their business model to open up the operating system for 3D printing. By creating an open operating system, 3DPrinterOS is looking to bring 3D printer management to the cloud, allowing this centralized platform to benefit printers, designs, and users alike.
  2. 20151022_120540Owl Works, with a presentation from SJ Park, took the mic second. The company, which debuted its Morpheus 3D printer at Inside 3D Printing Seoul back in June, was on hand to demonstrate their LCD + LED technology in their light induced planar solidification (LIPS) technology. The South Korea-based company has seen success on Kickstarter, reaching their $75K funding goal for the Morpheus in just one day.
  3. 20151022_121347Zmorph was up next, as Tomasz Wykowski discussed the company’s “Gilette” business model, Voxelizer technology, and “Swiss army knife” approach to business. Their 3D printer can use multiple materials via a dozen interchangeable toolheads. Another company we’ve been following, the Poland-based Zmorph notes that their multi-faceted approach helps them to be the best, not settling for “good enough” as they developed their own successful hardware and software.
  4. 20151022_121920IonPath took to the stage next, as engineer Gaston Accardi discussed his work in metal 3D printing. The Argentinian engineer’s work has come to our attention before, as he works to develop a low-cost approach to printing metal, as he showed us his work with copper material. Accardi is the founder of IonPath, and is a reseller for Creaform and SpaceClaim.
  5. 20151022_122607Metamason followed with a dynamic presentation, as COO/CFO Cliff Sarkin and CEO Leslie Karpas discussed and demonstrated the unique approach to creating 3D scanned and silicon printed CPAP masks, with Karpas even pulling one out and putting it on. With a “scan/fit/print” approach to patient-specific CPAP masks, the Metamason team works is working on Respere, their first product. A major failing of current devices for CPAP users is simply that the masks come only in standard small/medium/large sizing, which is not necessarily comfortable nor will it fit every face, leading to lower incidence of use. The Metamason team noted several other projects they have in mind along these lines, as well.
  6. 20151022_123241AstroPrint CEO Drew Taylor presented information about the cloud-based 3D printing ecosystem that we have been following with interest here at 3DPrint.com. The “3D printing industry lacks an open ecosystem,” Taylor explained, and AstroPrint is here to bring that to us. The company has been expanding its reach lately, and Taylor noted that they had just signed on a “huge customer,” in a deal that has not yet gone public.
  7. 20151022_124241Savvy Society was the final presenter of the competition, with CEO, Co-Founder, and Chief Fashioneer Alexa Fleischman taking the stage to explain the company’s vision to empower young female students with the knowledge that they can excel in STEM areas. Answering the demand they found, Savvy Society allows young girls to design their own “Savvy Swirls” to decorate shoes–via 3D design and printing. “We can get girls to CAD,” Flesichman noted, “through 3D printing and fashion.”

Taking honors for the day were:

Third Place: AstroPrint

Second Place: Savvy Society

Winner: Metamason

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(left to right), Leslie Karpas (Founder & CEO, Metamason), Cliff Sarkin (COO & CFO, Metamason) and Tyler Benster (Asimov Ventures)

The Metamason team took home a “comically large check,” as judge Tyler Benster was fond of calling it, for the $15,000 uncapped convertible note prize courtesy of Asimov Ventures.check2

“Metamason is exuberantly excited to accept this investment from Asimov Ventures, and very gracious to Mecklermedia for having us here,” said Leslie Karpas, CEO & Founder of Metamason upon accepting the award. “We look forward to helping world with better-fit products, so we are no longer in a world of great products…we are in a world of perfect products, and that is what Metamason is all about.”

The competition was certainly stiff, and the judges’ job was not easy.

“We had a great competition here today, with seven fine companies competing,” Benster said. “The judges felt that Metamason was a cut above the rest, and demonstrated not only a strong fundamental business, but also an innovative use of 3D printing that could change lives.”

See more of the slides from Metamason’s presentation below. This is certainly a company we’ll be keeping an eye on–with a big win here at Inside 3D Printing, and a presentation that almost made me wish I needed a CPAP machine myself, Metamason surely has a future full of potential ahead.

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