Jeremy Kaddis is the founder of Kad3D, which is an innovative 3D printing business based in Melbourne’s inner North, whose passion is to have your idea realised in 3D printed form.
Where did you get the idea for your business?
I was an engineering student at RMIT and slowly watched as the engineering sector within Australia slowly diminished as companies began relocating overseas. I watched as my friends would apply for job after job in a highly competitive area where the only real entry was networking. Most of them opted to change their professions, some even started working at McDonald's convincing themselves that it would be temporary, as their dreams of a professional engineering career within Australia slowly began to fade.
I was always business minded. I sold Warheads for 10c each at high school, bought and sold mobile phones/laptops on Gumtree and even ran a vending machine business during the first few years of uni. Something about running your own business excited me. It was always a different day where you could focus on what actually needed to be done without it being passed on from person to person, department to department before being approved. I was always looking for the next business venture that I could lay my hands on. A friend of mine had mentioned something about a 3D printer for $500. I bought one without even knowing how it worked.
With 3D printing (additive manufacturing) I realised how much potential a machine had when placed in the right hands. It could create a whirlwind of innovation, creativity and manufacturing, all the while reducing time and costs of creating complex structures - exactly what Australia needed. We are smart, we just don't have the right resources. Thats where Kad3D was born. With the abundance of highly educated graduates, seniors and everything in between, 3D printing can provide the opportunity for a successful future inventor, designer and marketer to be one person sat in a bedroom.
How did you get your business started?
I thought I could do it on my own. I started my business, created my own logo (it was horrible), thought of my own pricing and off I went. I did get some business but I began to realise the industry saw me as an amateur with a degree and no experience. With a logo like that, I don't blame them. If I wanted it to be professional I needed it to look like something professional, so off I went to China. In China I learnt the ins and outs of 3D printing, the components, how it works, why it works - the areas you need to focus on to distinguish yourself as a professional from the sea of amateurs.
Upon returning to Australia, I joined the NEIS program and restarted my business at RMIT University. Why RMIT? I studied there as I knew there were plenty of experienced lecturers, resources and mentors all in the one place. The NEIS program gave me a source of income for nine months, the foundations I needed in marketing, accounting and business practice and an array of mentors in the one place.
What lessons have you learned so far on your business journey?
Don't do it all yourself - you may be good at inventing a new product but that doesn't mean you know how to create a logo, an eye-catching website, create a good marketing campaign etc. You need to understand that you can only do so much. Handball the remainder to somebody who knows what they're doing.
Focus on one thing at a time - this is somewhat linked to the first dot point. Focus on what makes your business different and what your strengths are. For example, if you have a website design business, offer website design. Simple. Don't add server maintenance, advertising campaign management, web URL buy/sell, laptop services etc. This not only confuses your customer but creates extreme chaos in your business. Focus on creating a good website based on your customer's needs and wants. Once you've mastered this foundation, move onto something else - step by step.
Find a good business partner/s - you'll find you have good days and bad days. Days where you wake up and smash through as much as you can and times where you'll wake up and nothing will happen. It's hard to keep motivated, especially with a continual list of things to do that never actually ends. Finding a good business partner will not only keep you motivated but also relieve the workload by splitting tasks and focusing on different areas of the business. Ensure your business partner compliments your skills so if you're good at accounting and product design, find somebody who is good at marketing and building client relationships.
Don't start a business with your friends - if you plan to start a business based on friendship you'll soon come to realise it wasn't such a good idea. Business creates lots of arguments, this is a good thing as it brings about a different set of ideas but it also has the tendency to ruin friendships and relationships. If you do choose to start a business with a good friend, keep the business stuff to 9am to 5pm and friendship stuff for all other times. Never mix the two.
Find a good business mentor and keep them - these are the ones who have been there and done that. They can tell you whether you're on the right track or you've lost the plot. They have the right networks, relationships and resources to really help your business.
Never give up - Remember you decided to delve into this realm for a reason. It is hard but as long as you push through each day with a little something more than what you had yesterday then you're one step closer. It's a slow journey and it requires a particular mindset but never give up. Always aim for that one thing each day and in a years time, even though it will feel like not much has changed, you can look back and see how much you've actually achieved.
3D printed moose head by Kad3D
How important has it been for you to have a mentor?
Having a mentor or somebody you can look up to is extremely important. Understanding that these guys/girls were once in your position, working day/night to achieve their dream is not only inspirational but also very motivating.
What are your top three tips for starting a business?
1. Find a good idea and do whatever you have to do to become an expert in the industry
2. Find the right people
3. Just do it. Do it now and think later. You have nothing to lose while you're young and the experience you gain (whether it failed or succeeded) will be tenfold more than anything you would have learnt in a full-time job. Even if you were to step back into the corporate scene, employers will look at you with interest for attempting such a challenge and walking away with a mind full of resources, networks and experience.
Jeremy Kaddis is a graduate of the RMIT Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering, (2014) and the founder of Kad3D.
"It is hard, but as long as you push through each day with a little something more than what you had yesterday, then you're one step closer." - Jeremy Kaddis