No need to go “Back to the Future”, because the future is already here!
Hover boards, virtual reality games, robots, and now 3D printing pens are about to be released into stores across America, all thanks to a company called CreoPop! Andreas Birnik and his CreoPop cool ink pen (http://creopop.com) first grabbed the public’s attention and validation by crowd-funding hundreds of thousands of dollars via Indiegogo, and now his Singapore-based company have signed on with Best Buy in the United States to release their 3D printing pen at the end of the month.
With over 17 years of experience from building technology businesses in consumer internet, mobile communications, mobile infrastructure equipment and cleantech across Europe, Middle East and Asia, as well as holding degrees from Harvard University, Stockholm School of Economics and Cranfield University, The Levity Ball just had to sit down with CreoPop’s CEO Andreas Birnik to find out all the incredible details….
How did you come up with the CreoPop concept and design? And why the name CreoPop?
We were exploring various 3D printing technologies and applications and as part of that we thought it would be cool to make a 3D pen without any hot parts or melting plastic. The core expertise of CreoPop is material sciences and the 3D pen is the first device that can demonstrate the exciting range of materials we are working on. “Creo” means “create” in Latin and when you use the pen it feels like the ink just “pops” up letting you create 3D designs. That’s the inspiration behind the name CreoPop.
Why do you feel the public needs a 3D pen product like CreoPop?
We believe that 3D printing has been held back by limiting the materials used to primarily ABS and PLA plastic. After a while this gets really limiting. Just look around you wherever you are sitting when you read this and think about the materials around you. You probably see wood, textiles, metals and glass rather than just a lot of plastic. In fact, most people prefer other materials than plastic. With CreoPop, you get access to a range of exciting materials including magnetic ink, glow-in-the-dark ink, glittering ink, ink that changes color with temperature and more. We are constantly innovating to come up with new materials. It is still early days for CreoPop but based on our R&D roadmap, we hope to really change the way people look at 3D printing by enabling a range of different materials over time. In addition, existing 3D pens in the market are based on a “thermoplastic” approach by melting filaments of plastic to dangerously hot temperature. Engadget has compared such 3D pens to hot glue guns. We thought it would be a better and safer user experience to use light-sensitive ink instead of melting plastic.
What sets your product apart from and above others on the market?
There are two things that make CreoPop really special. First, the wide-range of materials available and second, that there are no hot parts or melting plastic. These two differentiators create a unique user experience.
CreoPop helped get funding at first from Indiegogo supporters/fan… Did you ever imagine when you started your company that a online website would bring the amount of attention/sales you have received?
We were hoping that we would do well but crowdfunding campaigns have always got uncertain outcomes. Indiegogo has been great for us. It allowed us to validate the product concept with a demanding set of backers used to supporting hardware products. We have also received great product improvement feedback.
What advice do you have for others using crowd funding websites to launch their brands/products?
I think the best advice is probably to accumulate a list of e-mail addresses from interested persons ahead of the launch of the crowdfunding campaign. Doing that will help conversion during the first day when the campaign goes live. And when a campaign is popular, it climbs in the ranking on the crowdfunding site, gets more publicity and the momentum becomes self-sustaining. We had 1,500 pre-registered backers and I have since understood that many of the largest crowdfunding campaigns started with a much larger e-mail database.
Your 3D pens are about to be launched in Best Buy stores across the United States… tell us about this?
Since CreoPop is a new product, customers will not automatically look for it and order it online. That’s why making it available in a store like Best Buy is so important to us – it puts CreoPop right in front of customers so that they can see and touch the product before buying it.
Was it difficult to bring your company from overseas into America?
I studied in Boston and worked in New York so entering the American market felt natural for me. It is quite easy to do business in the US if you have a good product that people see value in. Americans are early adopters when it comes to technology and the US market is a trendsetter globally. I love doing business in America. There is a positive vibe in America that is missing in many other parts of the world.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
To work hard, to have high energy, to stay focused, to be optimistic and to care about the details. This is what has shaped my life philosophy.
Where do you see CreoPop expanding to in the next five years?
To begin with, we are keen to rollout sales of CreoPop pens around the world. We have over 300 inbound distributor requests so we are in conversations with many distributors about their territories. We are also working on ink R&D to introduce a variety of different materials over time as well as exploring other kinds of 3D printing equipment beyond the pen.
Besides designing and using your CreoPop pen, what do you do in your spare time?
I like to keep up to date with new technologies so I follow a lot of technology blogs and products launched on crowdfunding sites. I am also passionate about food and wine so I love cooking and exploring new restaurants. Over the years I have made many trips around Japan in search of the best onsen (hot springs) in remote locations. I studied Japanese as an undergraduate so it is also a way for me to try to keep my dwindling language skills alive.
What is one thing in the world you would change if you could?
I believe in trying to make the world a better place through my day-to-day work. With CreoPop, I aspire to make the world a better place by enabling people to create whatever they want in a range of different colors as well as materials. I believe the world will become a better and more exciting place if it is possible to manufacture pretty much anything you want locally.