For a few years now the tech world has been seeing more and more new products and businesses emerge directly from the colleges and universities where their founders studied. It seems that students aren’t content with waiting until after they leave school to start looking for success any longer. Many schools have actively shifted much of their curriculum to support these budding entrepreneurs, primarily tech schools and trade schools, but even prestigious research universities are putting more effort into helping their students careers take off right out of the gate.
Virginia’s Old Dominion University (ODU) is one of the best research and postgraduate schools in the country, while they are a comprehensive college and offer degrees in almost every subject, they have a strong focus on the sciences and technology. So it’s no wonder that the school has made business planning and entrepreneurship important parts of their curriculum. The Strome Entrepreneurial Center has been the site of several successful startups launched by ODU, including the textbook reselling website CampusWise, which creates local book exchanges on campuses throughout the country.
Naturally, with the proliferation of low-cost and reliable desktop 3D printing some of the new startups coming out of ODU are directly tied to the 3D printing industry. In the case of 3DXtremes, a new company that looks to sell locally created and printed merchandise throughout campus, the business would never have happened had its founder Aron Blade Taylor not been exposed to 3D printing technology. Like many people he thought that 3D printing was too complicated for him to learn, but once he did he wasted no time launching his business. Taylor’s plan is to create small, customized bespoke products using a 3D printer and a vinyl decal cutting machine. He plans to offer usable products like headphone wraps, smartphone desk stands, coasters and storage solutions.
“We’d like for individuals to approach us with a need or want and we help make that idea come to life. In the near future, we hope to offer a much wider product line that will include iPhone and Samsung phone cases featuring custom changeable back plates. We will also start offering a new line of vinyl decals, such as monograms for dorm walls that can be removed with no damage or residue, like the ones we currently offer for smartphones,” explained Taylor.
But it wasn’t just 3D printing that helped Taylor launch 3DXtremes, it was his involvement with ODU’s Strome Entrepreneurial Center. Working with the center has given him not only the skills to start his own business, but inspired him to share those skills with others who the center may not be reaching. He works closely with several entrepreneurial programs and initiatives to better help his fellow students understand what is involved with starting up a new business. He also volunteers to go to local high schools and speak about why entrepreneurship is so important.
While it is very early days for Taylor’s new startup, he has some high hopes for the new business. And while he’s busy building his own e-commerce website 3DXtremes is getting some heavy duty support from one of the Strome Entrepreneurial Center’s oldest friends. In addition to helping students find local textbooks, CampusWise is also helping out other businesses to come out of Strome. 3DXtremes is one of five ODU student startups that are featured prominently on their front page, putting them in front of millions of viewers all over the country.