When Ben Baltes asked his dad what made Bill Gates the richest man in the world, he said it was because Gates made computers easy to use. Years later, that insight inspired Ben, and his co-founders, to develop one of the easiest-to-use 3d printers on the market. In fact, so easy, even a kid could operate it. But getting there was anything but easy.
Before founding Toybox, Ben worked at Microsoft, where he was a 3D printer hobbyist. But although he was able to purchase a printer, he found the learning curve to use it was brutal. That’s when it hit him. He enlisted Jenn Chin and Zach Oligschlaeger, and their company was born. The idea was to build a 3d printer that anyone could use, so easy it could be operated with the simple press of a button. They knew their printer could be designed to create anything from kitchen implements to shoes, but for them, the magic would be toys.
It took awhile, but they built their first prototype and took it to Maker Faire, a convention for DIY enthusiasts.
Though their prototype was pretty rough, the kids were lining up to use it for four hours—just to print a small toy. It was those kids who proved they were on to something. After Maker Faire, Brad, Jenn and Zach quit their jobs to work full-time on developing their Toybox printer.
What made Toybox especially unique was its software, which allows users to browse a bunch of different toys on their phone or computer, and simply press ‘print’. Toybox even has what they call a ‘creative space’, where everything is customizable. It was a long road, but eventually they secured a modest investment, which they used to launch an Indiegogo campaign. That led to an invitation from the show Shark Tank to appear on an episode.
Though the episode was filmed, and it went well, business was not good. In fact, they began meetings to discuss how to shut down the company. And then, their episode of Shark Tank aired. That’s when the incredible happened. Suddenly, they were selling a Toybox every two or three seconds.
They generated half a million dollars in sales, selling out almost immediately. Since then, the ramp up has been extreme. Today, about five years later, they have nearly 12 million in annual revenue, and they’re continuing to grow.. The Toybox story is one of ups and downs, ingenuity, struggle, determination, and yes, a touch of luck. Meet the founders who made it happen.
When Ben Baltes asked his dad what made Bill Gates the richest man in the world, he ...
Click the links below to learn more.
Interested in launching your own idea? Sign-up at our EntrepreneurShop for a free ebook and resources to help you get started.