Often criticised as a hazard to children, due to metal tips that heat up to melt plastic, 3D printing is currently the latest trend in consumer hardware. Singapore-based startup venture CreoPop, backed by iJam incubator Ruvento Ventures, was founded in August 2013 and has developed a variant that resolves this challenge.
Using a photosensitive resin which hardens upon UV light exposure, its believed to be the first developer of a pen-shaped 3D printer using resin ink. It launched a crowdfunding campaign earlier than its closest competitor – the Polyes Q1. Priced at US$119 and above, it’s got the potential to gain traction among children, due to its general novelty and variety of inks with different effects.
Revealing it’d raised a mid-range -six-digit funding round led by 500 Startups, with participation from Ruvento Ventures, a VC firm that operating across the Singapore and Russian markets, in addition to other private investors, co-founder and CEO Andreas Birnik added that he’d secured financial “commitments” of more than S$1.2 million (US$892,000) in total.
Aromatic inks, glow-in-the-dark inks, temperature-adaptive inks and more are some of the products planned for the future. The novelty of Creopopo’s product means parents could purchase more ink after purchasing their pen . In effect, the customer lifetime value (CLV ) of CreoPop’s business model present a an attractive and compelling way to grow traction.
Khailee Ng, the managing partner of 500 Startups, says: “We strongly believe in the 3D printing sector. CreoPop specifically will not only bring this game changing technology to wider commercial applications, but also into households. I grew up using Lego blocks to make 3D objects. This generation will grow up using CreoPop.”
Aside from the US$186,000 raised from crowdfunding, its funding round is smaller compared to competitors like 3Doodler or Lix. However, Birnik has added that with current challenges are surmounted for, they can close a second seed round, resulting in total funding of at least S$1.5 million (US$1.1 million), once crowdfunding is excluded.
Hoping to sell products through US retail channels in the US by Q2 2015 if sales meet projections, Creopop would see the beginning of a Series A round in Q3 2015. With production is underway in Shenzhen, China since December and a ship date pegged at April 2015, Creopop is waiting for the first batch to roll off the assembly line. Given that IP theft is common in China’s factories, it’s an ardent hope that no clones of their product will appear immediately after.
Addressing these concerns, Birnik explained “It has happened to others so it would be naive to think that we are somehow immune. There are two remedies in this regard: First, our three patent applications covering the pen, the method of 3D printing, and the inks. Second, the fact that the pen is useless without our proprietary ink that we manufacture ourselves. Copying electronics is quite different from copying a chemical substance.”
With Russian-made ink, there’s modest IP protection for Creopop. While the pen will generate revenue in the near-term and be the main focus, two new products related to 3D printing are already in development by them. Creopop refused to disclose further details.
Despite achieving minimal market entry, Creopop already shoulders large expectations. Developing 3D printing products targeting an older demographic might be the next practical strategy, though customer acquisition may pose challenges. Given the entry-level nature of a 3D printing pen, a resin-based FDM 3D printer by just be the next thing that Creopop develops.