Interview with Peter Ragonetti from Fleks3D


We created FLEKS3D Build Plate for Consumer 3D Printers that greatly improves how they work. Since the inception of the desktop 3D Printer, they have had a few really annoying pain points. The parts were hard to get off and you had to pry at them with blade. We made FLEKS3D plates bend so the part releases easier. The 3D Printers also required Blue Tape or Hairspray to get the parts to stick to the plate. The FLEKS3D plates have a texture so the parts stick every time. It was also always a pain to reset and re-level the bed of the printer. We made a quick change frame that allows you to quickly and easily start the next job. Because of solving these issues, many schools and institutions have taken in our plates because it makes it so much easier for students as well as your average desktop printer user.

Fleks 3D Build Plate
Tell us a bit about yourself. Who are you and what do you do?

I am a trained product designer with a BID from Pratt Institute. I did 10 years in consumer product design and development. My partner Viktor Jondal is also an industrial designer and has been a lead for design and branding for many global companies.

I am the co-founder of FLEKS3D, and I run the logistics, media and sales. Viktor runs development, testing and branding. I work out of Brooklyn, NY and he works out of Stockholm. Aside from FLEKS3D, we both run our own design studios.

I also teach at Pratt Institute. I teach a freshman level design studio and senior level class on crowdfunding where students launch their own projects.

Peter Ragonetti of Fleks3D

I am the co-founder of FLEKS3D and I run the logistics, media and sales. Viktor runs development, testing and branding. I work out of Brooklyn NY and he works out of Stockholm. Aside from FLEKS3D we both run our own design studios.

What does a typical day in your life look like?
With the Kickstarter for FLEKS3D running, it is hectic. Luckily, since Viktor is on EU time, he starts dealing with it when he gets up and then I continue to manage it during the EST. We have a 16-hour umbrella. Right now it is a ton of media outreach, talking with the backers, making sure what they need, checking with our supplier to make sure we can provide it, plus looking for places to promote the campaign. Then I have to make sure I am completing all my client work and work for my classes. It is exciting for sure, but you work a longer day than the traditional 9-5.

Fleks3D in action

Tell us something that most people don’t know about you
I spent my entire senior at Pratt studying Automotive design. I love cars. I have been around racing cars since I was 6 years old. I started racing at 16 and have been doing it successfully since. I had always dreamed of becoming a professional automotive designer, but life has a funny way of working out. I would not trade my experience as a Consumer Product designer to be a car designer and who knows what the future holds.
How did you come up with the idea for your product and what made you “go for it?”
Viktor started playing with the idea a few years ago. We had been working together on a few other consumer products for a large product design company based in Manhattan. We went out for a few beers and he explained the basic idea of the product and I thought, sounds like a winner. So we started doing development and testing. Make sure it was perfect. There was also so many more 3D Printing machines coming out at this time. So we started adding sizes and trying to make sure we could offer lots of options. The go for it was easy. The 3D Printing is still a relatively small space so we knew we had to launch ourselves.

What made you decide to go with crowdfunding (or venture capital)?
Kickstarter is no brainer for 3D Printing. It was one of the most active 3D Printing communities on the web. It never even crossed our mind to try and seek private capital to launch this. We needed to prove the market and prove the product and crowdfunding was the best place to do that.
What is the best decision you’ve ever made with your product (financial, emotional, educational) that led to the product we’re experiencing today?
Honestly, it was to return to crowdfunding. We had a successful Kickstarter last year and we sold the product to all 50 states and 27 countries. We delivered on time (BOOM). Then we continued to sell through our website, sales were steady but not gang busters. We were working on additional line extensions and we knew we needed to get it in-front of our customer. The first was a hard grind. But using what I have been teaching at Pratt, we did a lot of the little things ahead of time to ensure the product would get lots of exposure. Happy we did. We were fully funded in 56 hours.

Fleks3D Image Showcase

Where do you see your company or your company’s focus in 1-2 years?
We believe we can continue to provide innovative products for the growing 3D Printing market. As well as partner with 3D Printers to have our plates designed for their machines. We are also see a great opportunity in the 3D Printed File market and as part of our Kickstarter we did a soft launch on FORMtap3D a online direct to consumer 3D Printed Product market place. For every 5k we reach we giving away a file from FORMtap3D. Then next year in Q1 we will officially launch the FORMtap3D market online.
If you could time travel back to day one of your start­up and have 15min with your former self to communicate any lessons you’ve acquired with the intention of saving yourself mistakes and heartache, what would you tell yourself?
I love this question. It is one of those hard things to say because I believe you learn more heartache and mistakes than success. I always say fail faster to succeed quicker, but you hold on to the mistakes more. If I could go back in time, I would go back to the 27 year old me who was scared to leave his job and take a shot and tell him to leave now so he could make those mistakes quicker.

Peter Ragonetti of Fleks3D

I would go back to the 27 year old me who was scared to leave his job and take a shot and tell him to leave now so he could make those mistakes quicker.

Who has been the biggest influence on your life and work and why?
I have had a lot of amazing teachers and bosses who really were influential in making me who I am today. My parents let me explore art and design as a child. But honestly, I would say it is my peers, seeing the projects my friends are working on. Helping them, them helping me. Watching them build business and launch projects. That is so cool to me, to know and work with people who have great ideas and are passionate about what they do. I also get a lot a of inspiration from my students. Seeing young people who are excited and hard working, tackling complex challenges is really cool. Also, my wife, for never letting me settle on an easy answer.
Any tips for aspiring entrepreneurs on how to facilitate a successful financing campaign?
Sure. I teach a 15 week class on this. I will say what I tell all people who come to me about crowdfunding. What is the first word in crowdfunding?
Crowd, if you do not have a crowd you most likely will not get funding. So make sure not to work in secret and then surprise launch. Open social media accounts, create a website and blog. Share what you are working on, get people interested. Go meet with people, show them, get feedback, collect email address. Prove you are passionate about what you are working on and an expert in the space. If you have people ready to back the minute you launch, it will go a lot smoother.
What do you see as the biggest advancement in your technology sector over the next 5-10 years?
Higher quality, faster production and easier to use. The “there will be a 3D Printer in every house” is a bit cliche now. But there will be 1 in 5. I think is easily possible. Young people are gravitating to this technology in droves and they love it. The thing about 3D printing is it is no different than any tool. You need to have a purpose for it and that comes in the files, and provide content for these machines. If you could sign up to have a new toy delivered to your child machine monthly based on some sort of game or incentives, that could be something that really changes the game. I am only talking consumer 3D printing here. The advancements in medical 3D printing from organs to fingers coded to your DNA (think the 5th Element Movie), that is where the life changing break through will happen.
What do you see as the biggest risk in your technology sector over the next 5-10 years?
Failure for mass adoption. This technology will always exist. I mean it is not exactly new. It was started 30 years ago in the 80s. I used my first 3D printer in 1996 in high school. Designer, Engineers, Makers and Tinkers will always use this to create prototypes, make unique objects, but it is until my mother at 70 years old (not yet, but saying when she is) can print herself a case for her smart phone, that she picks out online, customizes and sends to her 3D Printing, that it will really have become a household item.

Thank you for your time Peter!

Wrapping it up

If you’d like to support Peter and the Fleks3D, check out fleks3d.com, the Kickstarter campaign and follow them on:

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