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Shapeways Finances Exposed

Some detective work by Joris Peels of i.Materialise has revealed interesting facts regarding 3D print service Shapeways. Recognized as one of the industry leaders in print service, we (and others) have wondered about the  success of their expanding business. Peels reports that in an interview with Netherlands website Sprout, Shapeways CEO Peter Weijmarshausen reveals some key statistics regarding his startup company.
At first glance, the information is shocking: in 2009 Shapeways had expenses of €1.644M with revenues of only €0.244M, leading to a staggering financial loss in 2009 of €1.400M. They're spending almost seven times their income!
But there are several important factors to consider in this case:
  • Shapeways is a startup company. This means they expect to have a period of losses while they build up their business. They are still, obviously, in this mode
  • The year 2009 was not exactly the best year for any business, as the recession was still in force pretty much everywhere, including the 3D business
  • Shapeways indicates their equipment is running flat out, producing 10,000 objects per month
This explains a bit more why Phillips decided to dilute their investment in Shapeways by selling a portion to Union Square Ventures and Index Ventures. Their injection of USD$5M will do a lot to build Shapeways further. 
Here's how to look at it: The new funding of USD$5M provides Shapeways considerable breathing room. If they continued losing at the rate they experienced in 2009, they can keep going for another two and a half years. However, we know that Shapeways is expanding and improving their bottom line so their financial "burn rate" will take that out quite a bit further by now. 
So is this bad news for Shapeways? We think not. Just come back in three years and look at what they will have achieved. 

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