Michelle du Toit, co-founder of Gizmo 3D Printers and Brisbane Ambassador for Women in 3D Printing, tells us about negotiating the challenges of being an Australian startup manufacturer.
What is your job and who is your company?
I’m the co-founder of Gizmo 3D Printers Pty Ltd; we manufacture state-of-the-art resin 3D printers that are designed to mass manufacture quality 3D prints at breakthrough printing speeds.
What’s your role and how does it fit into the business/organisation?
My role involves mostly marketing, branding and graphic design with my efforts directed at creating awareness around the incredible benefits that our innovative printers can offer businesses that rely on resin 3D printers to do their work.
What does your organisation do well? What are your capabilities? Who are your clients?
We manufacture resin 3D printers that are ideal for 3D printing large volumes of prints faster for cheaper. When our printers are the right fit for a business that works with resin 3D printers, it can save them a lot of time and money due to the following advantages our machines offer over others in the market:
– Breakthrough 3D printing speed.
– Larger build volumes.
– No replacement parts.
– High resolution.
– Extremely low failure rates and consistent results.
The first range of 3D printers we released are used in various industries; these include dental, 3D printing service providers, manufacturing and universities.
We’re working on finalising a new range of 3D printers that will be laser-focused on helping orthodontists significantly increase their productivity at vastly reduced costs.
What does your career path look like? Are there any highlights and/or awards along the way that you’re proud of?
My career path hasn’t been straightforward, but I believe things happen for a reason and now I’m really grateful that my background working in 3D animation, website design and development, graphic design and marketing has made me a really resourceful co-founder. The skills I learnt working in those different industries are especially useful in a startup where one tends to have to play many different roles to keep the business running on a tight budget.
I had been working as the full-time Marketing and Communications Advisor for the Australian Mines and Metals Association for almost four years when my husband phoned me one day and said that a video he had shared online of the 3D printer he was building as a hobby had gone viral. That day, our lives changed forever. Shortly after, I quit my day job to help him get our Brisbane born startup Gizmo 3D Printers running. Three years and 11 months later, we are still going and even have a little factory of our own in Geebung.
I always think, if for any reason, things all of a sudden didn’t work out, I’d still be really proud of how far we’ve come on our startup journey. Two of the highlights for me so far is that we delivered a successful Indiegogo campaign and more recently won our first business award through the 2018 QUT bluebox Robotics Accelerator.
– What’s a typical day at work look like?
Being a growing business, this could vary quite a bit from day to day depending on what the priorities of our business are at the time.
Currently, my focus is doing market research to find out which departments in universities can benefit the most from using our machines. In doing so, I can better communicate with the right people to hopefully assist them in making a move to better and faster 3D printing.
At the moment, a typical day would consist of a lot of reading about current uses of 3D printing technologies in universities, writing how our technology can be used in that space and calling customers and potential customers to get their feedback.
My days almost always include putting together content to share in our social media channels, newsletters and on our website.
When printer orders come through, I jump in to help staff assemble 3D printers and get orders out.
I’m also often on the phone with our business mentors for guidance and on the lookout for opportunities that could benefit our business such as related events, grants, awards or accelerators that are happening in the startup space.
– What are some tools/techniques/tactics you use to do your job?
I’m always on a mission to better understand customer and potential customer needs and shaping our branding messages to communicate to the right people more effectively. One of my favourite tools is Grammarly – an online grammar checking and spell checking tool that I rely on when communicating via newsletters, blogs, social media messages and more.
I also love Google Forms for collecting feedback from customers and information I need from potential customers for my market research. Integrated into a contact form on our website Google Forms helps me better understand the needs of people that come to our website.
I’ve also chosen to build our website on the platform Wix. I’ve designed and developed many websites in my lifetime, and I can tell you, Wix is a breeze to maintain which frees up my time to get more done in my job!
Is there an issue in Australian manufacturing that’s not getting enough attention at the moment? Why is it important?
Being very involved in the startup space, we can see many innovations and initiatives that are born in Australia aren’t getting enough attention and the founders don’t have the funds to pay for it. It’s amazing how many emails I get where 3D printing news publications inform us that our technology is one of the top 10 resin printers in the world, but we will only get listed in an article that states this if we pay large sums of money. As a growing company, we can’t afford to. It makes it especially hard when we are competing against corporate giants overseas. Unfortunately, many people are still unaware that one of the fastest resin 3D printers in the world is manufactured right here in Brisbane, causing many Australian businesses especially to miss out and pay more to get 3D printers from overseas.
It would help if Australian born products and events that showcase them got more attention as it could lead to more local customers and support for startups that need it.
We recently exhibited at an event by EV Leap for example that centred around giving attendees a look into the Future of Work. The information shared there was invaluable, all about the latest technologies that are shaping what workplaces will be like in the near future and how we can get ourselves ready for the significant changes that will lead us there. It’s such an important topic if you think about it – one that will have an impact on all of us. I couldn’t help but feel that event needed a lot more attention and that people missed out on essential information that can prepare them for a future that is changing fast with exciting technologies such as robotics becoming more prevalent in manufacturing. More awareness about exciting initiatives such as EV Leap and other Australian innovations are needed for Australians to take better advantage of the opportunities around them.
Thank you for the invitation to do this interview with which you are already making a difference to this issue 🙂
What do you get out of your involvement with the Australian Manufacturing Forum?
The news shared in the Australian Manufacturing Forum helps keep me up to date with the latest technologies and educates me on how they are impacting and shaping the world. Somehow the Australian Manufacturing Forum is always on the ball with the latest and greatest.
The team behind the forum are passionate about new Australian technologies and have always been incredibly supportive of ours. They’ve done this by staying in touch and even letting us know about new opportunities we could benefit from such as being interviewed for this article for example or awards we could apply for.
I find they recognise the value that new technologies bring to the bigger picture of the Manufacturing industry as well as the lives of Australians.
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