CreoPop's CEO Andreas Birnik on his plans for the company after its successful run at this year's SXSW.

Rachel Phua  |  Singapore
Published 2015-05-08 16:07:05

We first wrote about 3D pen CreoPop last year, after the creative technology company behind it won the Indiegogo Maker Challenge and secured 467% of its funding goal on the crowdfunding site. Since then, CreoPop has continued making waves in the 3D printing industry, and has been featured on Mashable, the Washington Post and Discovery Channel.

In January this year, CreoPop received a mid-six-digit amount of funding from Silicon Valley-based 500 Startups. In an interview with Vulcan Post, co-founder of CreoPop Andreas Birnik said that the funding will help them carry out future plans, including “hiring world class talent….[launch] new products in the R&D pipeline and…build sales and marketing capabilities to support in-country product launches.”

Image credit: CreoPop
An example of what CreoPop can produce. (Image Credit: CreoPop)

Conquering SXSW

That same month, CreoPop was chosen as one of the finalists in SXSW’s Accelerator programme. They’d applied for the programme last year, and cheered when they were selected, Birnik said: “It’s hard work launching a new company and [we] are delighted whenever there is recognition from reputable organisations like SXSW or journalists. It was great arriving in Austin as SXSW is one of the most fun industry events in the world,” he said.

Soon after that, Infocomm Investments — the venture capital wing of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore — selected CreoPop to be one of a handful of local companies to attend the prestigious SXSW Interactive Tradeshow. Other local companies that were featured include mobile marketplace site and app, Carousell, and short film viewing site and app, Viddsee.

Image Credit: CreoPop
Image Credit: CreoPop

CreoPop had an extremely successful run at the festival, where it allowed attendees to try out the pen and create their own pieces of art. In a clear testament to the popularity of CreoPop, Birnik shared that about 5.4 percent of 20,000 #sxswinteractive tweets mentioned the 3D pen.

Birnik also revealed that right now, CreoPop is getting ready for mass manufacturing and plans to sell its first large batch. The company’s website also states that the pens will starting shipping June 2015, to “over 60 countries”. Birnik added that the company is currently strengthening their sales and marketing team, starting with the United States and Australia.

Image credit: CreoPop
Image Credit: CreoPop

Understanding the appeal of CreoPop

When asked why he thinks CreoPop is getting so much attention, Birnik explained that this could be credited to the fact that they are working in an “under explored” startup field, where there is an overlap between the material sciences and consumer technology. Also, the variety of inks encourages imagination and those with itchy fingers.

Another reason why CreoPop stands out, according to Birnik, is the pen’s safety factor. It uses photopolymer ink — liquid ink that changes to solid when it is exposed to light — rather than plastic. This means that the pen will not burn its user, making it especially safe for children to explore and play around with.

Challenges faced by CreoPop

However successful the company has been, however, the startup still faces many significant challenges: CreoPop has to consistently fundraise, Birnik said, especially since it is a hardware-intensive startup. Attracting talent who are willing to take risks pose another barrier. This is especially true for small companies like CreoPop; they have to make sure that “operations run smoothly”.

Birnik explained that the company started out because they wanted to make 3D printing available and affordable for everyone. He also chose to start the business in Singapore because of the “excellent support infrastructure, availability of talent, government support and good funding opportunities”.

Achieving so much in such a short period of time, though, has not left CreoPop resting on their laurels. Birnik mentioned that the journey for CreoPop doesn’t end here — they already have plans to expand CreoPop’s product line: “We will focus on other products as well — the pen is just the starting point of our journey.”

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