Greg Mark is the kind of CEO who can admit that his company isn’t good at everything — and he has a frank way of putting it.
“If you go to a CEO and they say they’re best-in-class at everything they do, this person is an idiot,” Mark told BostInno in a recent interview. “There’s a lie somewhere.”
For his industrial 3D printing startup Markforged, the company’s two biggest weaknesses are branding and marketing, Mark said. But the company has one big area where it thrives: making hard-to-please engineers happy with its line of industrial 3D printers. And that has convinced three substantial customers — Microsoft, Porsche and Siemens — to invest in the company’s $30 million Series C round, which was announced on Wednesday.
Markforged, which is a finalist for BostInno’s 50 on Fire this year, will use the funding round, which was led by Siemen’s next47 investment fund, to expand its engineering and production capacity, as well as increase its product development efforts.
Founded in 2013, Markforged provides a line of industrial 3D printers that help companies develop hardware products faster. The company’s printers use a range of carbon fiber and metal materials to create objects that can be used not just for prototyping, but also as end-use parts, which is becoming an increasing focus in the industrial 3D printing market.
“This has far-reaching implications for our target industries, from automotive and aerospace to healthcare and energy,” Lak Ananth, next47’s managing partner who is joning Markforged’s board, said in a statement. “We see customers embedding Markforged into their product development and production processes, tremendously improving speed to market and addressing new opportunities in their industries.”
“When an engineer buys a bad 3D printer, they know it sucks and send it back.”
While Mark declined to provide revenue figures, he said the company’s printers are now used by thousands of companies, which has propelled annual revenue to grow 300 percent this year. The CEO said his company, which now has 102 employees, has been profitable since its first year, an impressive feat given that hardware startups typically require significant resources before turning a profit.
The trick to becoming profitable, Mark said, is to make customer satisfaction a major focus. For Markforged, that has resulted in only three returns in the company’s entire history, a net promoter score that has grown over the course of its product releases to 85, and engineers who end up making repeat purchases and share their feedback with others in the industry.
“Engineers can sniff out bad products. When an engineer buys a bad 3D printer, they know it sucks and send it back,” Mark said.