I had a chance to talk to the founders of Blokify, a startup that creates 3D modeling software allowing kids to create toys physically or virtually via an app and 3D printers. The company is co-founded by Jenny Kortina and Brett Cupta. I met Brett in NYC at an Ultralight Startup event in downtown Manhattan. We were standing near the doors because it was a packed house.
The story of Blokify goes back to 2012 when Jenny fell in love with 3D printing. Impressed by the price point of $400, she bought a Printrbot Jr. , and after creating her first test print (a companion cube from Thingiverse) she realized that she was holding in her hand the power of 3D Printing. She decided to upgrade and buy a Replicator printer with better quality after a few months.
“Once I had the Rep it was time to start to learn how to model. I did my internet research and decided SketchUp was the way to go (looking back I should have used SolidWorks). After many hours of self-teaching and a weekend class, I was able to make basic models in SketchUp that were printable.”
Realizing that 3D Printing technology was getting better and cheaper, she knew that there was a valuable opportunity in making the technology available to more people. The bottleneck in 3D Printing, as she had learned, was the modeling software, which in her experience was too hard to use. That’s where Blokify comes in.
Blokify offers an app that lets children build models like out of virtual Legos and print them out if they choose so that children can utilize the power of 3D Printing. Children can make anything on their iPads from buildings and cities to trains and automobiles. You print whatever you create. The app launched in January and is available for iOS devices.
When asked about the difficulties of starting the company, Jenny replied,
“Everything about starting a company is hard — I’d say our biggest challenge to date is figuring out the marketing piece of the puzzle.”
I was curious about where the founders saw the future of the 3D Printing industry going. In response, they said the following.
“In the next few years we think 3D printers will be in homes to print everyday objects. We also think they will be on remote places such as oil rigs or space stations so parts can be printed in a matter of hours instead of waiting days or weeks to get them.”
I like this company not only because of the space they are in but also because of their business strategy. I have found that many of the most successful startups arise when there exists friction in a market stopping people from using a certain product, and a company comes along with a product that eliminates that friction that’s stopping people from using the technology. Today, the friction stopping people from using 3D Printers is the difficulty in using the software like SolidWorks and SketchUp. As price points on 3D Printing drop, apps like Blokify which make modeling simple will attract people to the market.
About the Writer: Zak Niazi is the CTO of Disruptive Technologists. He has designed optical systems for Harvard Medical School, the University of New South Wales and consults in lens and optical design.