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How I Founded a Startup September 20, 2015

Posted by GuySoft in open source, Startup.
4 comments
ShapeDo logo

ShapeDo logo

Hey all,

It’s my 29th birthday this week, and that sorta made me realise no one really knows what I have been doing the past 18 months, so I thought it’s time to tell you how I founded a company. Unlike the tutorials and guides I wrote here, I am not sure this would work for everyone, but it did work for me.

The Idea

I have started one of my biggest and ambitious projects yet, after collaborating with people around the world bringing OctoPi to the world, I realised that something was missing from the scene of 3D design – a decent version control and collaboration tools.

This was the initial idea, as you will see things played out differently, but what was important with this idea was contagious, I got the feeling everyone I told about it wanted to join me, it was wonderful.

Assembling the team

My talent is mostly in the core backed stuff, so I found myself going to one of the more talented web developers I know for help, my co-worker at Zend, Amit. It started by asking him javascript questions. When he realized what I was doing, he started helping me out, and he was fast, suddenly in days my core stuff was accessible to the world with a simple and elegant interface. At that time we thought this is going to be a nice open source project, not something commercial, but as the server load grew on Amit’s little server we understood we needed some way to pay its bills, so I started to look for someone that would help me figure out how to sustain this financially. Since our idea was “github for 3D printing”, it seemed like there should be a way to support it, perhaps charge for closed-source projects.

I’ve been going around the Makerspaces in Tel-Aviv, mostly XLN and T.A.M.I, in some random workshop I came across someone who said “You should write an executive summary, I don’t mind helping you out”. I didn’t even know what an executive summary was at the time, and today it makes me realise how much I learned about fundraising during this year. I later found his name was Ari and he was between companies. We set to meet at Google Campus and write it since we both went to some ecology hackathon that was going on there.

We ended up drunk from exhaustion and pizza, scooting on chairs at the space and we also had a draft. As we wrote it, the idea spread to Ari, and he realized he that he wanted to join. I introduced him to Amit. It took a while to put our trust in Ari, less time than we expected, and today I know ShapeDo would not have reached anything without Ari’s help. Eventually we wrote a few basic agreements on paper and Ari made sure we register a company, ShapeDo was born.

The Pivot

We worked on a new site for 3D printing and launched, we got coverage on 3D printing industry, and the user base grew, but people were not really using the collaboration features. It turns out most people 3D printing share are simple one person designs in one afternoon projects. However, what is special about the 3D printing industry is that there is no 3D CAD tool that was built for it. So you end up meeting designers from mechanical engineering, gamers, architects, programmers and any discipline that has a 3D design program that can export the printable files. We (everything eventually becomes “we”) found that everyone wanted this kind of tool in their workplace, while in 3D printing was not as urgently needed.
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