“It still works!”: How two friends accidentally made a 3d revolution by inventing a doodler

    The magic wand for drawing in 3Doodler space appeared as a result of the banal failure of the 3D printer, but became a hit. In 2013, the project raised $ 2 million on Kickstarter, and since then more than 70 thousand people have bought a nice device.

    Now the project team wants to create a powerful creative community around the doder, whose members together would come up with useful and effective ways to use it.

    At the invitation of MadRobots, Daniel Cowan, marketing director of WobbleWorks, a pens manufacturing company, recently came to Moscow to take part in RIF + CIB 2014. We used this opportunity to ask him about the history of 3Doodler.

    This is a true fairy tale about crowdfunding and a real success story. This is exactly the case when Kickstarter allowed people to realize their dreams: they gave initiative guys the opportunity to create their own international business, completely change their lives and start something really significant - and they managed not to miss this chance.


    Future WobbleWorks founding fathers Max Boog and Peter Dilworth worked in Hong Kong at WowWee, a company known for its toy robots, in the mid-2000s. Pete - a graduate of the prestigious MIT Leg Laboratory and MIT Media Lab - was an engineer-inventor, and Max was responsible for the production process and the practical implementation of high technologies.

    In friendly conversations, it was often said that both want to go on an independent voyage, realize their creative ambitions to the fullest, and make independent consumer electronics. In 2010, Max and Peter created WobbleWorks in Boston. They spent money on launching only from private funds. The size of this amount is not disclosed in the company. “She was not very big due to the fact that Pete and Max used only their own concepts and developments,” explains Daniel, who joined the team in 2012.

    He already had experience of his own swimming: managed to work as a corporate lawyer, and later founded two small IT companies and even wrote some pretty successful applications. One of them - Last Night Never Happened: The Morning After App ("Last night never was: the application of a new morning") deleted all the owner’s records from his Facebook and Twitter pages for the previous night. However, after a couple of months Facebook closed access to that part of the API that the application used.

    The first time after the launch of WobbleWorks, Max and Peter focused on inventive work and often prototyped ideas that came to their mind on a 3D printer. As a rule, these were electronic toys and robots.

    “Once upon a time, our UP 3D printer! flashed right in the process of printing the next layout for Peter, ”says Daniel. - There was a hole in the finished layout, and Peter wanted to take the printer head to manually fill in the gap. It was at that moment that he came up with the idea of ​​3Ddoodler. ”

    As a result, Max and Peter quickly disassembled the printer and tried to screw a small handle out of its parts. The first modification of the gadget barely worked and was a print head with a lever for extruding plastic screwed to it. But Pete and Max were happy: “It still works!”


    “We quickly realized that in order for plastic to harden faster and allow creating stable thermal structures in the air, it needs to be cooled,” Daniel recalls. - Then there was painstaking work to improve the prototype, we thought up a cooling mechanism for a long time. When we finally succeeded, we exclaimed: “Wow! Something really can come out of this thing. ” A few months later, the inventors brought the technology to mind. The gadget is made as compact and easy to use as possible. With this modification, we went to Kickstarter. ”

    Crowdfunding gave talented engineers of the present a chance to realize almost any technical ideas. The guys from WobbleWorks used this opportunity to the maximum. To attract attention, in parallel with the Kikstarter campaign, WobbleWorks launched a project with designers and jewelers from the Etsy international online fair who experimented with the device and laid out their work.

    Later in an interview, Max toldabout how it feels to engage in crowdfunding - and achieve some success: “Great publicity will fall on you. Get ready for it as thoroughly as possible. You will receive tons of emails. My girlfriend even took a two-week vacation from work to help us deal with the shaft of emails sent. It was important for us to answer every interested person. ”

    Initially, WobbleWorks wanted to raise only 30 thousand dollars, clearly not waving at something great. But in the end, the project funded more than 26 thousand backers, and the total amount of the collection exceeded $ 2 million.


    The take-off of the project ushered in a new era in WobbleWorks. From a startup that developed technical ideas and licensing, it was urgently necessary to expand to a full-fledged production company with product development, distribution and logistics. Inexperienced people would most likely break off their teeth on this task - many Kickstarter projects were burned up not because they could not raise money, but because they collected a lot, but could not cope with scaling.

    “Of course we understood that we had invented a really cool thing, but the amount collected on Kickstarter amazed us. We did not expect such a response at all. Those 30 thousand dollars that we wanted to collect initially would hardly cover the price of the necessary equipment and tools, so we would work at a loss. Despite this, we very much wanted the world to get a 3Doodler, ”Max recalled in an interview with Makezine .

    A few months before the Kickstarter campaign, the founders went to Hong Kong to look for a factory that would handle pens. Max’s experience was especially useful here, and by the time he started his own project, he managed to work for several years as the production director of the Chinese startup Handy Robotics, where he established contacts with high-tech factories from Hong Kong and South Korea. As a result, we managed to find a factory that agreed to work with small orders, but in which case it was ready to quickly increase production volumes.

    “It is very useful to know the language - I began to learn Mandarin Chinese in high school, continued to study it in college, and then lived in Hong Kong for four years,” Max said in the same interview. - The first few months I was sitting at the factory without any relief, but this is the price I am willing to pay to get our 3Doodler to customers. I am more than happy to do this. ” The constant presence in the production paid off - Max worked side by side with the engineers and the quality control service, this helped to reduce the production time of the product.

    The rest of the team didn’t let us down either. It turned out to be the most difficult to establish a stable logistics system and send out the first 25 thousand doodlers to backers living all over the world. “At this critical moment, it became clear that our team has people with all the necessary knowledge and competencies to ensure stable operation. It was a well-chosen team that saved the situation then, ”Daniel said. In total, ten people are now working at WobbleWorks.

    “Scaling up a business is always difficult, but we were prepared enough to cope with this task. Success at Kickstarter brought us enough money to build a company, hire the right people and be independent of outside investors. This is a real luxury, but we work tirelessly, ”Daniel sums up.


    However, some geeks, even with all their love for gadgets, were skeptical from the very beginning and called the doodler "a toy that would be interesting to tinker with for about fifteen minutes, no more." Is it so?

    “I understand this skepticism, and from the very beginning we have been doing serious outreach,” says Daniel. “Actually, there are a lot of opportunities for the useful use of the device: this is the field of education, design, gardening, art, architecture, choreography, construction, jewelry ... Look at our communities on Twitter and Facebook - the fantasy and skill of border owners do not know.”

    There really is something to see. For example, one backer needed a device to paint plastic pipes in his basement, turning them into an object of art.

    A separate pride for the developers of the dobler is the ability to train blind and visually impaired people, creating special tactile objects with its help. “As far as medicine is concerned, we have achievements in this area,” says Daniel. “Now they are starting to use our pen for working on medical prostheses.” We are discussing other possibilities for using the device in medicine with leading specialists from the USA. ”


    What next? At the annual CES exhibition, WobbleWorks announced its plans to create a holding platform for the handle, which would greatly facilitate the work on large objects. Also announced plans to create a series of interchangeable nozzles and silicone molds DoodleBlocks in the form of numbers, stars and letters. It will be possible to fill in them with plastic and create perfectly even objects.

    “We keep in touch with most people who bought the device, and thanks to this feedback we have accumulated a lot of information about his work and suggestions for possible upgrades,” says Daniel. “Our goal now is to create a vibrant, vibrant creative community around the doder, whose members could create and share ideas together.” Therefore, we are starting cooperation with more and more artists and designers around the world. ”

    But the company is not going to focus on the doler alone, he promises: "We still have a lot of non-trivial ideas."

    If you want to join the growing community of happy 3doodler users , welcome to our MadRobots Doodler Storewhile in stock. And if you have already become the owner of this device, we will be glad to know about your experience in using it - tell us in the comments how you managed to use it.

    The first generation 3Doodler in Madrobots

    3Doodler 2.0 in Madrobots

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