Though many 3D printing stories address more practical issues such as challenges in the medical field, there is also a lot of space in the art area – for example, jewelry.
After receiving a 25k investment in 2013 by Zeppelin University’s VC ZU Micro Equity, the Stilnest team moved to Berlin.
As announced on Thursday, the “publishing house for jewelry”, as it calls itself, received a higher six digit investment from IBB via VC Fonds Technologie Berlin, K-Invest from Pforzheim and other business angels.
Stilnest was founded in 2013 at Zeppelin University in Friedrichshafen, Germany, by Julian Leitloff, Raoul Schäkermann, Michael Aigner, Tim Bibow, Florian Krebs and Mike Schäkermann.
Stilnest curates international designers and selects small, unique jewelry collections and produces the finepolyamid- and 925er Sterling Silver jewelry through 3D printing. Currently 37 designers from Sydney, New York, Hawaii and Berlin take part in the portfolio with over 100 pieces.
The business model
Stilnest earns premiums for every sold object. Once a design is approved, Stilnest produces and markets the product. Designers receive a premium of 10% for each sold object. While this might sound like a very small amount, CEO Julian Leitloff states that “[they] work with a highly standardized contract that [they] developed over the turn of one year together with [the] designers to suit the needs of both the designers and [us] as their publishers”.
The funding will mostly be used for marketing. With online advertising, Leithof explains that the startup wants to target the German market first.
Being recognized is important for Stilnest, as similar ideas are out there.
“We compete with Shapeways and other repositories for designers, and with Monoqi for attention of design connoisseurs,” Leitloff says. Some competitors differ in the kind of jewelry and others target a different price range. “Competition would help in getting attention and lower production prices for the whole industry. Maybe some of [the] readers feel like giving it a shot,” he continues.
“left”]Prices have dropped, however. Items that costed around €230 last year are now below €10.
“We were really tight on money after two years of product development but managed to sell products worth over €25,000,” he says. Most of these products were sold in Germany, but also to European clients, two in the United States and one retailer in Hong Kong.
“Solving technical issues is great, but building a great product is something different.”
The team met before university. Some are even friends since elementary school. In university, they say they accomplished a lot in terms of technology, but didn’t get the feedback they hoped for. Once Leithof understood what qualities were missing in the team, he convinced more of his friends to join after changing the business model.
“Theoretically 3D-printing is a dream come true for e-commerce.”
With printing on demand, the startup doesn’t need much storage space. “We bring back production to where customers are,” Leitloff says and refers to transparent production as well as short transportation routes.
“A lot has been said about the possibilities of 3D printing. I personally believe less in desktop printers, but more in business model innovations that are now possible due to industrial machines. But who knows. I am happy to be in the space of finding out myself,” he says.
Images: Instagram Stilnest, Stilnest