When Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, Texas, Samantha Snabes knew that her company would take a hit. All the components that Re:3D uses to construct its three-dimensional printers could not reach the assembly line.
But Re:3D, based in Austin and Houston, had just won big at the Austin Creator Awards. The competition, sponsored by WeWork, funds forward-thinking companies. Her company took home $180,000, which helped it keep the lights on during a tough time.
“When you’re a startup, something like this could bankrupt you,” says Snabes. “Our company could have died, but because of WeWork, we flourished.”
It wasn’t the only crisis they weathered. After the company established a base in Puerto Rico, the island suffered a one-two punch from hurricanes Irma and Maria. Because of the Creator Awards, they were able to continue their work in the community.
What does Re:3D do? It builds the Gigabot: an industrial-size 3D printer that’s smartly designed, easy to use, and — most importantly — affordable. It’s now used in more than 50 countries around the world.
The company has a great pedigree. Snabes comes from NASA Johnson Space Center, where she worked for the Open Innovation Program. That’s where she met Matthew Fiedler, who would eventually become her co-founder. The two shared an interest in social entrepreneurship, feeling strongly that making a profit and helping people were not mutually exclusive ideas.
“Our team and the people that mentored us put people on the moon and built the Saturn 5, so you can’t say that this can’t be solved—but it does take money.”
Re:3D has been growing at a rapid clip, so much so that they are cutting the ribbon on a new factory in Houston. The Creator Awards helped make that a reality.
“We took a gamble that we could find a way to make it happen,” says Snabes. “We had been up against our capacity for a while, and we had to trust that we would find a way to fund it.”
The company is making good on its goal of doing good in the world. For every 100 Gigabots it sells, the company donates one to a local organization dedicated to improving their community.
And the company is constantly improving its product.
“We’ve got a prototype that shows it can be done,” says Fiedler. “Now it’s about getting the job done. In 12 to 16 months we’ll have the final product on the market.”
Noting the work Re:3D is doing to change the world, the judges at the Creator Awards Global Finals gave it the top prize of $1 million. Snabes, overcome with emotion, fell to her knees and threw her arms up in the air.
“When we won at the Creator Awards, it completely changed our trajectory,” says Snabes. “And winning at the finals — there’s just no end to what we can do."