From the time he was a kid, John Dogru was always tinkering with electronics, taking them apart and trying to put them back together again. So it’s little surprise he would one day become CEO and co-founder of 3DPrinterOS, a company revolutionizing 3D printing. But it’s a journey over 30 years in the making.
“I quickly realized (as a child) this mechanical world had a lot of restrictions,” he tells host Jim Brisimitzis in the latest edition of Series A-The Podcast.
Dogru offers tremendous insights into founding a business in such a nascent field, where technology is just beginning to catch up to the vision. He likens it to when IBM DOS first came on scene. “You need a platform that’s agnostic to whatever printer manufacturer and design tools they’re using,” he says.
3DPrinterOS accomplishes just that. It’s an elegant but simple solution that allows anyone with a web browser to log in and manipulate designs then print anywhere around the world.
The platform has become the gold standard at leading universities and enterprises around the world, from Duke and Caltech to John Deere and Bosch.
With 3D printers sitting idle at times around the world, 3DPrinterOS allows anyone to access them, and watch their creations come to life. And with the quality of desktop printers rapidly approaching industrial strength, it’s revolutionizing manufacturing, Dogru says.
“You know it takes five years to set up a factory for a car….but in 3D printing what you see on the screen comes out the other side. No restrictions,” he says.
Along with a fascinating look at the world of 3D printing, Dogru offers tremendous insights for other founders gleaned from the past several years of founding the company, from hiring to fundraising.
Dogru likens adding members to his team to a rock band. “You can’t tell people how to play the guitar or drum or bass. You need people that come in there and know how to be in the band and know how to add value instantly,” he tells Brisimitzis.
And he says you also have to be willing to cut people quickly if they aren’t up for the task, unlike some large organizations that can accommodate weaker links. He admits of the over 160 software engineers that have joined 3DPrinterOS at one time, only 12 or so remain.
“You can either do the task or you can’t do the task…you either know what you’re doing or you don’t,” he says.
Dogru shares his experience raising capital, and offers sage advice he’s followed religiously. Although he’s raised millions, he’s turned down plenty more, choosing quality investors over quantity. The key? Finding mentors and partners with deep experience and connections, not just deep pockets.
“I see a lot of entrepreneurs that are just begging for money for their ideas. And really, ideas are nothing. It’s all execution,” he says.
And after a number of years, it’s clear 3DPrinterOS has gotten the execution down pat, with hundreds of thousands of print jobs on thousands of printers across the globe. And a manufacturing revolution well underway.