Founder Friday at The Vine with Drew Taylor of AstroPrintThe Vine San Diego sits down with the founder of one of our favorite startups!
From the importance of meditation to the danger of taking advice, Drew Taylor of AstroPrint inspires startups to change the world, one 3D Print at a time!
Elevate: So what’s the most challenging thing about being a founder?
Drew Taylor: Startup entrepreneurs are inherently some of the first to innovate, the first to try something new, and the first to realize what the next big trend will be. This sounds great, but this means that you have to navigate a world of people that have not yet realized your vision of the future. This puts you in a position of having to constantly pitch, describe, explain, and defend a view of the future that you, deep down inside, feel is obvious.
Elevate: What’s the most rewarding?
Drew Taylor: Solving problems that plague an uncountable number of people on the planet. Everyday you get to go to work with the realization that what you are building will make life easier, more enjoyable, and/or more productive for a huge number of people.”
Elevate: How’s your experience been being based at The Vine? What made you choose The Vine vs. all of your options?
Drew Taylor: We originally came to The Vine through the EvoNexus accelerator program. So far, the experience has been amazing! How can you complain about an office that has Wine at the Vine, ping pong, corn hole, and a kegerator? 😉
Of course, the biggest benefit for us has been the camaraderie-ship that comes from being surrounded by companies that are doing amazing things and solving big problems in tech. “
Elevate: What’s one piece of advice you would share with all budding entrepreneurs?
Drew Taylor: Do not just look for a business idea that you feel will make lots of money. Look for a business idea that you will will be passionate about and will enjoy working on for a number of years.
Elevate: What’s one piece of advice would advise budding entrepreneurs to ignore?
Drew Taylor: Most of it! I’ve found most 3rd party business advice as hit and miss. Ignore most business advice that comes from people that do not align with your vision.
For example, do not take marketing advice from someone that does not believe deeply in your product. Do not take business strategy advice from an investor that does not believe in your product enough to invest in it…
Of course, this is not black and white. If your company is going the wrong direction, maybe these folks know something you don’t!
If someone aligns with your vision for the company, their advice will augment and fine tune how you achieve your goals.”
Elevate: Anything you would do differently if you could go back and launch Astroprint again?
Drew Taylor: do not recommend for anyone to change their past, it has taught us the lessons that we needed to learn at the time.
However, for the next time I do a startup: I will look for an easier problem to solve. My current company is solving enormous problems in a very complicated industry. This has caused us to have less fun on a daily basis than I would like! We’ve had to become exceptionally tactical, methodical, and strategy focused…”
Elevate: What do your customers LOVE about Astroprint?
Drew Taylor: We make all of their wildest dreams come true! 😉
In a way, we really do. By turning 3D printing into something so simple that anyone can do it, anyone can find something they want, hit a button, and have it in their hand… Dreams brought to reality with just a few clicks.I do not recommend for anyone to change their past, it has taught us the lessons that we needed to learn at the time.
Elevate: What do YOU love about Astroprint?
Drew Taylor: That we are really helping a new market evolve. I truly believe that 3D printing cannot become mainstream until a product like ours is adopted. I believe that we are bringing 3D printing to the masses. That’s pretty awesome.”
Elevate: What do you look for in a stellar team member across functions?
Drew Taylor: Passion about what AstroPrint does. Not too long ago, a guy sent us an awesome intro email with a picture of something he wanted to print and a description of why he thought AstroPrint was groundbreaking. After a quick conversation we went out on a limb and asked him if he wanted to go with us to SXSW to help work in our booth. With only 5 days notice, he jumped in a car with us, did a 25 hour drive to Austin (from San Diego), worked at our booth for 3 days, hung out with us in Austin, and rode 25 hours back. That was before we ever talked about hiring! He was excited to be part of the journey of our company, whether he was a paid team member or not. That made the choice to bring him on as our first full time team member incredibly simple. :-)”
Elevate: Thank you so much for your insight Drew! We like to end with a window into how our founders get work done. What are the 3 productivity tools that you personally cannot live without?
1. Meditation and Qi Gong – If you are spending your time trying to progress your life financially but not also progressing mentally and spiritually, you will probably feel stuck no matter how successful your startup becomes.
2. Trello – Because I’m WAY too scattered to keep up with everything I’m supposed to be doing on a daily basis.
3. Mixpanel – Analytics, analytics, analytics! Making decisions is easy when there is a ton of data to sort through.”