We’re happy to bring you an interview with Love & Robots, an up and coming Irish startup who are making progress rapidly in developing an innovative new approach to 3D printing.
The new name is great, and makes sense. What made you change, and how difficult was it to do so?
The old name (FabAllThings) had a number of difficulties associated with it – most importantly, it was not very memorable if you didn’t get that fab was short for fabricate. So for the new name (Love & Robots) we wanted something universal and memorable. The name comes from the fact that our products combine the creative (love) with the technological (robots). It’s all about the intersection of design and tech.
The name has this deeper meaning for us, of course, but we also wanted something that was emotive and memorable, even if you knew nothing about where it came from. And people seem to respond really well to it, even if they know nothing about the company. Even just reading the name makes people curious, and often makes them smile.
We managed to get the .com domain which was fantastic. Re-branding our company was a great experience as it was something we had been thinking about for a while and the adoption of a new name was the ideal time. One of the toughest parts of rebranding was actually the coordination. Everything had to switch over on the same day, or near enough, and there are so many more channels now than there has ever been. Companies like Facebook have become very wary of pages trying to change their name – we had to send them lots of official certificates to prove our authenticity.
Our community of designers and customers have actually responded really well to the new name – they adopted it almost instantly, so that’s been great!
You have just taken on a new round of investment. How will this affect you?
It will definitely help us to do more of what we’re already doing, and do it better. The next move for Love & Robots will be to expand our team, particularly in marketing and brand-building. We are currently interviewing for roles in these areas. We will also continue to work on product design and to develop our customization tools, but we will be able to do this faster and more efficiently than before.
How soon do you think Irish startups should start looking for Venture Capitalist investment?
A great way of getting your company ready for investment is by taking part in an accelerator. Dublin has a lot of great programs for startups. We took part in the DCU Ryan Academy Female propeller program last year, which we went on to win. And we also joined Seedcamp in London, who have invested in us and have been instrumental in our growth. Both have opened up a lot of doors for us.
Why is Love & Robots awesome?
We are the only design brand doing what we do, making design interactive and co-creative. We allow our customers to interact with the design of products; they can tweak and personalize everything they buy before it’s even made; they can submit ideas for product lines and vote on which ones go into production. It’s a totally new way of experiencing products and product creation. And our methods of production mean that we are creating an ethical, environmentally friendly company which is also scalable. We think that’s pretty awesome!
You are opening offices in a few other cities, do you plan to run it from Dublin, or from somewhere else?
We already go over to London a lot for events and meetings, especially at Seedcamp. For a company like ours, selling consumer products, Ireland is quite a small market. For now, our software development team and main office will remain in Dublin, but we will likely have a marketing and sales team in London or New York, or both in the near future.
Where would you like Love & Robots to be in 3 years time?
Love & Robots will be an global design brand, with flagship stores in major cities across the US and Europe. We will have a distributed design community, collaborating with us on new and exciting and entirely customisable products. We will be manufacturing our products in 100’s of countries, where each product will be manufactured local to the end customer. As the digital manufacturing and 3D printing industries grow, our production will become even more efficient, and we will be at forefront of consumer products for the digital age.
What do you see yourself doing in the future?
For the moment, we’re putting everything we’ve got into Love & Robots. It has the potential to become a household name internationally, and that’s a really exciting thought.
What’s your definition of success?
Being happy while creating something that adds value and joy to the world.
What words of advice would you give to new Irish startups?
Dublin has a great eco-system for startups and an incubator will get you away from the kitchen table and out there. That’s exactly what you need at the beginning.
What would you have done differently?
When we stop to think about it, nothing. We needed to take the route we took in order to get the business to where it is now. If we hadn’t taken the time to figure out what was wrong, we wouldn’t know that what we’re doing is right. You don’t know what you don’t know!
What are you excited about in terms of what is now possible in terms of 3D printing?
In terms of 3D printing, the range of available materials is constantly expanding, and fast, so that’s exciting for us. We’re now printing in metals, like gold, silver, bronze, brass, and we’re always looking out for other potential materials.
More importantly, 3D printing and digital manufacturing allow us to customize every single product we make. We have developed our own customization tools which allow customers to tweak and personalize our products in 3D, in real-time, in their browsers without downloading any software. When they buy, a manufacturing file is automatically generated and the product is printed especially for each customer.
We love that digital manufacturing & 3D printing is making this kind of mass-customization possible for the first time ever.