Manufacturing platform Fictiv announced a comprehensive system for engaging with overseas providers.
If you’re not familiar with Fictiv, it’s a sophisticated manufacturing network through which you can obtain quality production of parts using 3D printing and CNC technologies.
The problem they solve is the challenge small businesses encounter when engaging traditional manufacturers, who are designed to handle large volume requests. Often this approach locks out smaller requests because the up-front costs to set up manufacturing make their business proposition financially invalid.
Fictiv organizes a set of manufacturers behind the scenes through a vetting process, and then allows clients to access them through a consistent online interface. Their target market is startups, who are very often challenged by this scenario, as well as any company requiring smaller volumes of production parts.
It appears their approach has been successful, but today they’re announcing something a bit different.
They’ve opened another office in Guangzhou, China, from which they will be able to mastermind a network of inexpensive Asian manufacturers. These will also be accessible through Fictiv’s proven interface.
The idea here, I believe, is to ensure their clients have the ability to engage the often lower-cost Asian manufacturers. I can imagine that some of their prospective clients may have been thinking, “Should we go with Fictiv for an easy experience, or should we try to use a lower-cost Asian service that we don’t know how to engage?”
Fictiv’s announcement today renders that question moot.
This is a very interesting move by Fictiv and it could be enormously profitable, as there is no doubt demand for lower cost production, but there has always been a barrier to engaging lower cost suppliers.
I constantly hear stories from entrepreneurs who muddle their way through a series of fascinating adventures in setting up a manufacturing relationship with a distant provider. Sometimes they work out well, sometimes not. But they are almost always complex and a “learning experience” for the startup. Fictiv’s new option should vastly simplify that scenario.