I visited XponentialWorks to get inside the story of the “seeding and scaling” company.
Based in Ventura, California, XponentialWorks is the nearly three-year-old brainchild of storied 3D printing entrepreneur Avi Reichental.
He founded the new venture after leaving 3D Systems, where he had been the CEO for more than a decade. At a time when many might have considered stepping back into advisory roles or perhaps even easing toward retirement, Reichental instead took a running leap into another area of business: working with startups and mid-market companies.
He’s not one to sit back and watch, he told me with a smile during one of XponentialWorks’ biweekly happy hours. He needs to be in there, doing. And there’s a lot that needs to be done for the ‘exponential technologies’ the company works with.
What Is XponentialWorks?
There’s still some confusion in general about just what XponentialWorks is: is it an incubator or accelerator? A venture capital company? A parent company? An advisory group? An innovation lab? Simply a coworking space?
“We see ourselves as the seeding and scaling arm for small companies, figuring out how to apply and expand these exponential technologies — drones, automation, 3D printing — to seed and scale and de-risk,” Reichental explained. “In parallel, we help mid-market companies by being their innovation lab.”
These early-stage and mid-market companies coexist in a kind of fostering, innovative cocoon under the XponentialWorks umbrella.
While it might seem a bit zany to house several teams working on pretty different projects — during our walkabout of the various spaces in the business park, we visited teams at work with Apollo Robotics’ drones, NXT Factory’s SLS 3D printers, Nexa3D’s SLA 3D printers, and plugged in with ParaMatters’ generative design software, strolling as well past Nano Dimension’s electronics 3D printer and Techniplas’ varied offerings — it seems to be working. Last spring, Nike acquired the first of the XponentialWorks companies to leave the nest, as Invertex moved its AR over to the shoe giant’s new custom shoe sizing app and in-store offering.
The official explanation for XponentialWorks, per their About Us page, notes:
“XponentialWorks is a venture investment, corporate advisory and product development company, specializing in Artificial Intelligence, digital manufacturing, 3D printing, robotics, and the digital transformation of traditional businesses.”
The current roster of companies under the XponentialWorks umbrella include:
All in all, while the organization is headed by the well-known Reichental, XponentialWorks is anything but a vanity project. Collaboration is the name of the game there, and every partner involved sees that no one technology, no one company will be “the winner” when it comes to Industry 4.0. For additive manufacturing and other next-gen technologies, collaboration is the way ahead — as these teams have consistently emphasized.
I briefly mentioned the happy hour; my first day in Ventura, I was pleased to pop in for the happening, held at the coffee bar in the middle of the office. It’s a popular gathering place, where experienced barista and ace scientist Izhar Medalsy, Nexa3D’s Chief Product Officer, is known to whip up gorgeous coffee drinks. Every couple of weeks, though, it instead houses some wine and hors d'oeuvres for some after-hours conversation where all are welcome, including Cooper, Reichental’s dog. The company culture is very important to the vision, as for teams to work together, it helps for them to know one another.
With both early-stage and mid-market companies working in close proximity, the sharing of knowledge and experience, and familiarity with where to find each, is key to next steps forward.
The focus is on both seeding and scaling, as new and young companies are getting off the ground. At RAPID + TCT this spring, XponentialWorks had its first showing with three ready-for-market products, with ParaMatters’ CogniCAD 2.1, Nexa3D’s NXE400 super-fast SLA 3D printer, and NXT Factory’s debut of its QLS 350 SLS 3D printer.
CogniCAD 2.1 is available now, while the 3D printers are gearing up for full availability. Assembly of the first production systems of the NXE400 begins in earnest next week, starting with about five machines per week, as the design has been finalized and is ready to move full steam ahead. The QLS 350 will, in the next six months, release its is first systems to beta users, then converting these to early adopters and adding to their numbers, ramping up to production in 2020 for first production deliveries.
XponentialWorks, Reichental said, offers venture investment, advisory, and product development expertise. One of the key offerings in all this is the company’s internal structure, as they also offer in-house access to experts in development, PR, IP, HR, and sales. Chief Revenue Officer Michele Marchesan, for instance, was mentioned several times as an invaluable asset in helping all three of these companies.
Such experience is often not immediately accessible for young companies more focused on creating new hardware or software offerings than on getting them into the market.
More To Come
During a full day on-site at XponentialWorks, I appreciated the opportunity to speak at length with Reichental and the Nexa3D, NXTFactory, and ParaMatters teams. There’s more to come from these conversations and tours de technology.