1. In your own words – what do you do?
We have designed and built some of the largest 3D printers in Europe. With a fantastic culture of learning and innovation, we are working with some of the UK’s most exciting companies to bring large-scale 3D printing to a diverse range of markets. From end-use components such as mineshaft extraction fan blades, through to carbon fibre laminate mould tooling, we are disrupting supply chains and maximising value for UK manufacturing.
2. What’s the most exciting thing about what you’re doing?
No two projects are the same; however, they are all exciting and often a first for the UK. Whether it’s printing railway arches or automobiles, it’s a great feeling watching parts and sub-assemblies leaving the facility. And it’s pretty cool to go to work with a robot every day!
3. What are you most proud of so far?
I am most proud of the fact that we have created a technology business from nothing, and a hardware driven technology business at that. It really feels like an enormous achievement. The fact that it is fairly unique and technically very exciting is a bonus. To be on the bleeding edge of advanced manufacturing in the UK, supporting engineering start-ups and corporates alike, is a real privilege.
4. What have you found most difficult about being a startup?
Nobody has walked the path that we are headed down. There’s plenty of advice out there but no advice that is guaranteed to help you as an entrepreneur, with your own specific set of challenges. Many will offer advice, but no-one has started your specific company and tried to do your particular ‘thing’. It can be pretty lonely sometimes. Fortunately here we can always just switch on a printer and make something cool.
5. What would you do differently if you started now?
I would try to raise more money and then hire more people to get going quicker. It’s always a good idea to hire skill-sets that complement one’s own – buy in what you can’t do very well (or at all) yourself. That being said, it’s a bit of a Catch 22 – until you have something concrete to show investors you can’t really expect to raise more money for a paper-based exercise than we managed to. I would perhaps have tried my hand at something slightly less risky as a company in order to learn business better before trying to create something completely from scratch AND have to learn business at the same time. Luckily we have some great investors and collaborators and are now seeing the growth we were hoping for.
6. Where do you think you’ll be in 12 months?
I think we’ll be in a really exciting place; we are beginning to see the fruition of all of our hard work so far and so I would like to think we will be facing some exciting new challenges in terms of who to hire, and where to put all of our new equipment! We are currently putting a lot of effort into building our brand and positioning ourselves as the experts in our field, which I really believe we are thanks to our great team (although I may be slightly biased!), so I hope we’ll have achieved that to some extent as well.
7. What tools/people/services/organisations helped you most?
Our cloud-based accounting software (Xero) has been great for streamlining back-office financial activities. Our CAD (design) software Onshape has been great – it is also cloud-based and enables multiple designers at opposite ends of the country to be collaborating on designs in real-time. G-Suite has obviously helped with us keeping everything light-touch and available to all people in the business at all times.
8. What’s the best thing about being based in Swindon?
When you delve into it, there is actually a fantastic scene of entrepreneurs who can share stories and strategies as well as connections and advice. Tech Swindon have been key in making many of those local connections for us. Our local network is shaping up to contain a fantastic mix of characters and experienced connections that can help with everything from PR and marketing advice all the way through to tips on top local contractors and services to help with our development. There is also a fantastic choice of industrial estates, which meant that when we started out we could choose a place that we felt really suited us as a company. We are really happy with our facility in Rushy Platt and hope to thrive here in West Swindon over the years to come.
9. What support does the tech scene need in Swindon?
I think more frequent events organised to focus on different challenges and aspects of growing a small business could be a great idea – serving to help in the immediate sense of addressing certain specific challenges, but also providing even more opportunities to network and build a series of important and useful relationships with the right people locally. Co-working spaces and incubators etc. are okay, but many SMEs have their own premises and don’t necessarily want to fork out on an additional place to work.
Running the events I suggest above on rotation through the various SME premises and existing desking environments in Swindon would be interesting as it would enable techies to see what each other are up to first hand, as well as provide a method for participants to be able geographically place their connections around Swindon and Wiltshire.
10. Where can we find out more about you?
You can find us online at www.scal3d.com
, or you can follow us on LinkedIn and Instagram by searching for Scaled Ltd, where we regularly drop little insights into industry, and what interesting projects we are currently working on.