Why We Built MakerOS & How it May Change Your Company

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Imagine this:

You're running a product development service and you just landed a Fortune 500 client with a huge order but you have a backlog of clients who want their parts ASAP.

After a quick celebration, you begin wondering: "how am I going to make this work?"

You don't have much time to figure it out. The client starts sending you updates and requests almost immediately. Though, of course, it's not what you were expecting. Deadlines have shifted, you need to repair the files before they can be printed, and the part requests are all coming in separate spreadsheets, which you'll also need to assemble.

What did we get ourselves into?

What did we get ourselves into?

Where it all went wrong...

It’s a mess but you’re going to make it work and you think your company can handle the increase in production based on how you’ve set everything up using tools like:

  1. Trello

  2. Salesforce

  3. Quickbooks

  4. Netfabb

  5. Excel

  6. Email

  7. Your favorite 3D file slicer

Everything seems fine for a little while, however, orders from this new client are starting to come in with more frequency which forces you to push back other work for the sake of fostering this new relationship over the next few months.

In order to deal with the backlog and to stay on schedule, you sleep at the shop… on top of the shipping material. You tell yourself you’ll do whatever it takes.

Then as soon as you think you found your rhythm an email gets lost and the client swears they copied you on the message but you can’t find it anywhere. They resend you the document, but guess what, it’s a duplicate sheet and you’re unsure if they meant this one or not so you go ahead and produce those parts anyway…

This goes on over the course of two months. You’re tired, burnt out, and ultimately you totally underquoted the client and have left your other clients in the dark as their parts are delayed.

Make it stop!

Make it stop!

Does this sound familiar?

"Was that order paid? Let me check Quickbooks. But it says paid in Salesforce?"

This hypothetical scenario is what actually happened to me during my last project while working at 3DPX in 2014.

So I decided to take a break and began a three-month sabbatical to think about what happened and if there was anything I could have implemented or done differently.

After peeling back the many layers of that difficult experience, here are the pain points I discovered:

  1. No clear chain of communication between the clients’ team and ours.

  2. No protocol for balancing new and existing orders.

  3. We were using way too many pieces of software and data was saved in disparate locations, incomplete, lost, or never logged.

  4. We ran out of a specific material in the middle of the project because we didn’t have an understanding of our inventory.

  5. Not understanding the logistics from the start caused delays.

  6. Between our many software systems, we couldn’t tell if invoices were actually paid or not.

How the obsession turned into a company.

After living with this I wondered if there were other people dealing with these problems, or if there was a solution I didn’t know about? I had to know for sure.

It wasn’t long until I started interviewing large and small companies that were building hardware and software to learn about how they worked, what challenges they were facing, and how they were trying to solve them. After over 100 interviews, I gathered the data and confirmed what I initially felt was true.

With validation from the interviews I knew it was time to start building. I felt I had an obligation to do something about this. I didn’t want anyone else to go through what I did.

I became obsessed with the problem, and what better way to test and learn than to do it with our own company.

That’s when I founded Manulith, with the sole intention of self funding the early development of a system that would finally bring balance to the chaos that every product development shop experienced at one point or another during its life.

As it turns out, dogfooding your own product is a great way to figure out if your assumptions are based in reality. It let us iterate faster and fail cheaper.

Our v1.0 of MakerOS was heavily influenced by our own usage of the system at Manulith.

Our v1.0 of MakerOS was heavily influenced by our own usage of the system at Manulith.

Introducing: MakerOS

A few years, investment rounds, and iterations later, we have arrived at our initial goal: MakerOS, an all-in-one, business management platform for design, prototype, and production services.

MakerOS is an efficiency platform. Specifically, it’s a tool that’s the day-to-day driver of activities for product development teams to:

  1. Save time

  2. Grow bottom lines

  3. Simplify the workflow from 6 apps to just one

What we built currently helps run some of the best incubators, prototyping shops, and digital products businesses in the country.

Interested in MakerOS for your business? Request a demo here. You know you want to.

What’s next

It’s time to turn on the network effect.

Now that MakerOS has an installed base of fabricators, incubators, and other product developers, we are working to create the next generation of MakerOS. A system where it’s easy and seamless to share work, collaborate on projects, and expand your company’s capabilities.

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We call it Overflow.

Overflow is an entirely new way of growing a business that enables companies to increase their capabilities and production volume by connecting them with vetted suppliers within the MakerOS supply network.

Overflow is currently in beta. Access is by invite only. If you're interested in learning more about Overflow, request a demo with us.

If we get it right

With our mission to create a more effective workforce that is able to create products faster, cheaper, and at a higher quality than before, we think Overflow could fundamentally change the way businesses and people interact.

If we lower the barrier for businesses to scale, we will also lower the barrier for their clients to work with them to create solutions to present and future problems. By focusing on the human element we’re making it easier for people to communicate, build relationships, and do work that matters.

Though, as much as we like to think WE can influence the future with the tools we create, it’s ultimately up to you and how you apply them.

MakerOS is an efficiency platform with all of the custom order management features a 3D printing business needs to collaborate with clients and better their workflow. Request a demo to speak with a member of our team on how we can make your company better.

Obligatory "2001 a Space Odyssey" reference.

Obligatory "2001 a Space Odyssey" reference.