MakerBot announced an interesting educational maneuver: they’re opening up an office in California.
Why is this important? It cements their strategy to work directly with the educational market, which has been their primary focus with the exhaustion of the DIY market and ill-fated consumer mass-marketing push of a few years ago.
The company has been based entirely in Brooklyn, NY since its inception, and even after their acquisition by Stratasys, they’ve more-or-less maintained independence from their owner, which is based in both Minnesota and Israel. This has left it with a challenging to expand their marketing into Western USA.
Thus, they’ve decided to open a sales support and training office in California. Specifically, they’re in Valencia, which happens to be just north of Los Angeles.
And it’s no coincidence that Stratasys happens to operate a Direct Manufacturing Center in that same location. In fact, MakerBot is leveraging their owner’s facilities in this region.
The new office will permit MakerBot to provide live demonstrations of their equipment, particularly the Innovation Center system, which would be of significant interest to educational institutions.
I can’t tell you how important it is for buyers to have trust in their vendor, and I believe this is what MakerBot is seeking to achieve with this move. They will be able to work directly with numerous nearby educational institutions to bring them onsite and see the equipment live. This is something few other 3D printer vendors would be able to do; in many cases, they simply appear as another web-based shopping option. Not so with MakerBot, at least in southern California.
And that leads to the next question: how can a single demo center in SoCal serve all of western USA? Would a group from, say, Minnesota, travel all the way to SoCal for a demo? Maybe, but many would not.
But here’s the interesting thing: Stratasys has many offices around the world. What if each of them were able to serve in some capacity as a MakerBot demo center, providing sales support? That would provide MakerBot with a tremendous sales advantage.
I suspect this move is a test by MakerBot to see how well the concept works. If it does, expect to see a few more offices pop up in various regions across the USA.