I had a chat with Adrian Maier-Ring, Investment Manager at AM Ventures, to find out more about his company.
AM Ventures does not make 3D printers, 3D software, nor 3D materials. Instead, they are a venture capital company that focuses on the world of 3D printing. Many of the familiar company names in the space have been funded behind the scenes by Germany-based AM Ventures. (DyeMansion’s Series A and Series B funding rounds, for example, and LightForce Orthodontics’ Series B.)
The company was founded some five years ago by a group of former EOS people, one of the notable providers of advanced 3D printing equipment today. EOS, as you might know, is a privately owned company, not a publicly-traded one as is 3D Systems and Stratasys. In fact, EOS is owned by the Langer family of Germany.
According to Maier-Ring, AM Ventures was formed as a way for the Langer family to help grow the whole additive manufacturing ecosystem. They correctly observed that the industry’s progress could be hampered by gaps in the total ecosystem, in particular materials, applications, supply chains, etc.
Today AM Ventures is comprised of ten staff, many of whom have some prior background in additive manufacturing. Curiously, many have technical backgrounds rather than finance, as you might see in other VC firms. Maier-Ring says they are:
“Engineers by education, AM enthusiasts and entrepreneurs by passion, and venture capitalists by accident.”
To be clear, they do also have significant business backgrounds and training, and have built their own experience in investing as the company proceeded.
While AM Ventures has strong ties to EOS and the Langer family, they do operate entirely independently. I asked if AM Ventures could invest in a potential EOS competitor, and Maier-Ring said they certainly could. Evidently when AM Ventures launched they had deep strategic discussions and concluded that as AM is still quite small, they need to look at the whole industry, other fields, and other technologies.
That said, AM Ventures facilitates any profitable partnerships for their portfolio companies to any player in the AM industry.
AM Ventures focuses on additive startups and typically invests in the range of hundreds of thousands to a few million, depending on the nature of the situation. While they usually are the first major seed or series-A for a venture, they may also consider re-investing in subsequent rounds if it makes sense.
I asked Maier-Ring to describe the type of 3D company they hope to invest in, and he gave me a list of some characteristics they look for:
- Owned by the founders. It could be only two people in the company, the size doesn’t really matter.
- The team composition is crucially important: they look for those with entrepreneurial attitudes, with appropriate education and experience.
- The technology, is of course a critical aspect and differs from one venture to the next.
- The business model is quite important to understand how the venture intends on making money.
- Finally, they want to see how the venture fits into the sustainable green future.
It turns out that AM Ventures’ investment rate is quite tight: they end up investing in only one percent of the applications they receive. That’s 17 investments from 1500+ applicants in their files. Maier-Ring explains they receive around 10-20 new applications for investment each week. These are all examined and follow their structured internal investment decision process.
How does one apply? It’s quite straightforward, as AM Ventures offers a way to apply online by providing contact information, web page, notes and the all-important pitch deck.
And if you’re very fortunate, you might receive an investment from AM Ventures.
Via AM Ventures