"I started my company with a completely bogus
business plan" - Janne Kyttanen

| 6 comments

In our second movie focussing on the cutting-edge world of 3D printing, Freedom of Creation co-founder Janne Kyttanen claims it was his passion for the technology rather than his business acumen that enabled him to make a commercial success out of designing and selling 3D-printed products.

"I started my company with a completely bogus business plan" - Janne Kyttanen
Janne Kyttanen, founder of Freedom of Creation and creative director of 3D Systems

When we visited Kyttanen as part of our research for Print Shift, the one-off magazine about 3D printing that we launched earlier this year, he showed us a range of different 3D-printed products he has designed over the years, including the very first lampshade he printed in 2000.

"I started my company with a completely bogus business plan" - Janne Kyttanen
Gyro, Kyttanen's first 3D-printed lamp

"This was the first thing I ever made and it cost me €5,000 at the time," Kyttanen reveals in the movie. "It made no commercial sense whatsoever."

"I started my company with a completely bogus business plan" - Janne Kyttanen
Lily.MGX lamp by Janne Kyttanen for Materialise.MGX

However, over the subsequent years Kyttanen would team up with Belgian 3D printing company Materialise to create a range of 3D-printed lamps, one of the first collections in which 3D printing was used to created finished products rather than prototypes.

"I started my company with a completely bogus business plan" - Janne Kyttanen
Lotus.MGX lamp by Janne Kyttanen for Materialise.MGX

"That whole experiment led to an entire collection of lights," says Kyttanen. "We started a company together called Materialise.MGX and commercially that's been very successful."

"I started my company with a completely bogus business plan" - Janne Kyttanen
Freshfiber 3D-Printed iPhone case

Over the years, some of Kyttanen's 3D-printed products have been profitable, such as his range of customisable iPhone cases for accessories company Freshfiber, and others have not. Kyttanen says that the products he put his passion into have tended to be more successful than those he designed to make a profit.

"I started my company with a completely bogus business plan" - Janne Kyttanen
1597 wall lamp by Janne Kyttanen for Freedom of Creation

"I made a light, which is called the 1597", he says. "It took me about 6 months to make it and I put an enormous amount of passion into it, but the final pieces were very expensive. We sold quite a lot of them and I was very happy with it. But I thought I could make it smaller, more consumer-friendly and try to maximise the profit. And then we hardly sold any."

"I started my company with a completely bogus business plan" - Janne Kyttanen
1597 wall lamp by Janne Kyttanen for Freedom of Creation

"One I wanted to make money out of and the other was the one I put my passion into, which was ten times more expensive, but that one sold well and the other one didn't."

"I started my company with a completely bogus business plan" - Janne Kyttanen
610 pendant lamp by Janne Kyttanen, which didn't sell as well as expected

Likewise, Kyttanen says that the success of his company Freedom of Creation, which was bought by American 3D-printing giant 3D systems in 2011, is down to his passion rather than his shrewdness as a businessman.

"I started my company with a completely bogus business plan" - Janne Kyttanen
Twister.MGX by Janne Kyttanen for Materialise.MGX

"I started a company with a completely pointless, bogus business plan," he says. "I went to a lot of banks and I tried to get finance for it and I told them: 'One day the world will be in a way that I can put my entire company's worth in this USB stick.' That was probably 10 years ago."

"I started my company with a completely bogus business plan" - Janne Kyttanen
Twister.MGX by Janne Kyttanen for Materialise.MGX

"Everybody said: 'No, that's not going to happen, we're not going to give you any finance because your business plan is completely bogus.' Well, ten years later, I sell my company with exactly that same idea."

"I started my company with a completely bogus business plan" - Janne Kyttanen
Lily.MGX lamp by Janne Kyttanen for Materialise.MGX

Kyttanen concludes: "So, if I am able to inspire any young artists out there, don't listen to anybody. Just follow your passion and it will find its own way."

"I started my company with a completely bogus business plan" - Janne Kyttanen
Lotus.MGX lamp by Janne Kyttanen for Materialise.MGX

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  • smack

    So wait: the 1597 was successful. Then you made a version which was equal in literally all ways except it was cheaper, smaller, and you were (secretly) less passionate about it. And somehow consumers knew this, and because of it, didn’t purchase the lamp.

    Congratulations on literally proving ESP i guess?

    Unless the differences between the lamps are due to things beyond simply your level of passion at the time selling it? Like, maybe they looked different. And perhaps all your advice of “products I am passionate about are the ones that sell well” is based on a sort of post hoc, confirmation bias sort of fallacy. Pretty hard to stay passionate about something that doesn’t sell well, I bet.

  • tin

    14 or 15 years ago we had no Euro…

  • Carlos Pinheiro

    Can’t wait to clean it… :|

  • Marie

    He has to think about another material. Plastic (hopefully) is not the future.

  • Taka

    Hmmm. 3D printing, again. Some complex shaped lamps. What an innovation.

  • Damian

    Nice interview!