ProtoExchange Brings 3D Printing To Anyone

ProtoExchange 3D printers

There’s nothing like procrastination to spark a startup idea.

In college, Jonathan Placa waited too long to get started on a project, and when he needed something manufactured through Shapeways, they had a 4-6 week lead time. With the project due in 3 days, Placa obviously missed the deadline.

Nonetheless, one bad grade is a small price to pay for the next great idea. After he missed his deadline, Placa talked the problem out with his roommate Orie Steele.

What if there was a whole network of 3D printers that could manufacture any project in a day’s time?

What would the platform look like and how would it work?

How awesome would it be for all engineering procrastinators in the years to come?!

(Now, I wasn’t there, but in my head this conversation sounds a lot like the “We should buy a BAR!” episode of How I Met Your Mother. Puzzles, anyone?)

Anyway, there’s a good chance it was less effusive than that, and the guys behind ProtoExchange actually thought through their business idea. They brought on Placa’s brother Jimmy to run the financial side of things. Jimmy had a background in finance, but he also ran a traditional manufacturing company, which gave the team a little bit of market insight.

They also moved from New York to Texas to participate in the first cohort of Techstars Austin.

Basically, ProtoExchange connects smaller manufacturers onto a national platform, giving them a wider network with which to compete against bigger manufacturers. For the consumer, it means they can access a large network of 3D printers and shorten the time it takes to receive their product.

The first working 3D printer was created in 1984, but in the last few years the idea has taken off. The rise of cloud computing now makes it simple to download and share any documents or plans, so 3D printing is becoming even more accessible to the average user.

Techstars Austin gave the ProtoExchange team a great start, and they are now working hard to build the network and platform, which should be available publicly soon. Placa assured me they currently have all the major 3D printing technologies and materials and are ready to compete with more established, centralized services.

The accelerator even introduced them to some current housemates who also moved to Austin to start up. Currently, they earn revenue on transaction fees, but they are also experimenting with other financial models.

ProtoExchange will soon be available to procrastinating students everywhere. You can follow them on Twitter for all the updates.

TechStars Austin Unveils First Class

Techstars, Techstars Austin, Capital Factory, Startups, Accelerator Back in May Techstars, announced the formation of their Austin Techstars program. The accelerator is being housed at the Capital Factory in downtown Austin. Jason Seats, who was the director of the Techstars Cloud program in Houston moved over to Austin to head up the program.

Techstars reported receiving 850 applications for this first cohort in Austin. The team at Techstars was tasked with cutting those applications down to ten.

Here are the ten startups announced last night at an event at the Capital Factory.

  • Filament Labs build patient tracking and compliance software around mobile health, behavior tracking, and behavior change. One of its consumer products, HealthSpark, was 1 of 30 hand-selected apps within Aetna’s CarePass initiative.
  • MarketVibe (founded by the Whoosh Traffic team at Capital Factory) uses customers web analytics and shopping cart data to teach companies how to get more traffic, leads and sales.
  • Fosbury is a cross-platform digital wallet solution for designing, managing and analyzing campaigns on Apple Passbook and Samsung Wallet. Fosbury ensures retailers and other that their customers always have loyalty cards and coupons with them and provides a new way to interact with customers.
  • Atlas Wristband takes a new approach to wearable technology in the fitness industry. Atlas combines top talent from Johns Hopkins University, Phillips Healthcare and Maxim Integrated Products.
  • AuManil helps Online Retailers identify, manage and grow their most valuable customers – and create more of them. It enables shopper-facing agents to engage high value customers based on behavioral profiles and predictive insights. These targeted, personalized engagements lead to increased revenues, high retention rates, and better customer satisfaction.
  • Ube: controls lights and appliances from a smart phone, inexpensively. The company’s Wi-Fi enabled Smart Dimmers, Smart Plugs and Smart Outlets are competitively priced, easy to install, and provide the convenience of controlling your lights from your smartphone from anywhere in the world.
  • ProductGram: allows online sellers to extend their store from one outlet to many. Currently in development for Etsy sellers, the mobile app will push an attractive listing, not just a third party link to drive more product views to increase sales via other channels, with checkouts happening wherever engagement happens.
  • Testlio: opens a network of mobile testers to developers needing every last bug uncovered. The company has created tools for software testing that use real time chat, integrate issue reports into their existing systems, and do daily/weekly testing based on the customers own release schedule.
  • Accountable: streamlines and simplifies HIPAA compliance by providing a suite of tools and resources for firms, from necessary agreements and policies to risk assessments and employee training. All required pieces are tracked for completeness and time-sensitive expiration, with monitoring and alerts maintaining compliance. Audits are as simple as printing out a report and all requested information.
  • ProtoExchange: is a cloud-based network of professional 3D printing services that allow businesses to source the production and material capabilities of the network in a scalable, cost-effective, and time-efficient manner.


Techstars Opens In Austin, Mashing The Best Of Texas’ Startup World

Techstars,Techstars Austin, CapitalFactory, StartupsSome may be surprised to find out that Techstars has no “official” presence in Austin. What??? That’s right, even though they throw one of the best parties at SXSW and you can find most of the Techstars team roaming about during the festival they’ve had no real presence.

Until now.

Techstars announced via their blog that they are going to take up residency in the already epically awesome Capital Factory (home to DreamIt Austin as well), and begin an official Techstars cohort in August.

That’s not all though. They are bringing over TechStars Cloud Director, Jason Seats, from San Antonio to run the program. Seats sold his company Slicehost to Rackspace and has since been involved with Techstars. He’s also part of the StartupGrind program.  Having a Techstars class in an environment like Capital Factory gives the young startups a huge advantage. Austinpreneurs are always hanging out at Capital Factory, in addition to the huge mentor network Techstars already has to offer.

David Cohen announced the new Techstars program this morning and also opened up the application process.

“Forbes and Bloomberg have been calling Austin the No. 1Boomtown and the best place for your startup for years now, and Google recently chose it as the second city to receive the fastest Internet on the planet. TechStars exists to put the best mentors and the best entrepreneurs together in the best startup communities so Austin is a natural next stop for us. We will run our first program starting this August and applications are open as of today!” Cohen said in the blog post.

Here’s the application for Techstars Austin

Speaking of Austin here’s over 40 startup stories from SXSW 2013.