Aiming to become the world’s largest supplier of 3D printed products, from design through to distribution, industrial designer Mariana Kobal and engineer Shane Hassett set up supply chain service WAZP. Kobal talks to Think Business about the revolutionary power of 3D tech.

What does Wazp do?

WAZP offers companies the most advanced, sustainable and flexible supply chain, transforming digital content into physical products using 3D Printing technology. Unlike legacy manufacturing, WAZP inspires companies to make better products, closer to the point of need. By harnessing the power of 3D Printing, WAZP offers industry defining pricing, increased design complexity, and efficient processes to support clients’ adoption of digital content manufacturing throughout the company.

“Unlike legacy manufacturing, WAZP inspires companies to make better products, closer to the point of need”

Why did you set up Wazp?

Today’s consumers are changing, we demand better products faster, cheaper and more sustainably. Both co-founder Shane Hassett and I come from volume manufacturing backgrounds and we saw the opportunity in 3D Printing to reduce production complexity and create products which satisfy modern consumers. We believe that 3D Printing combined with an understanding of the consumer and best practices for manufacturing will lead to a better future for all of us.

Man in grey t-shirt and woman in blue jumper.

WAZP co-founders Shane Hassett and Mariana Kobal.

What is unique about the company?

By taking the best practices of traditional manufacturing and integrating 3D Printing technology within it, we create an innovative solution for the production and delivery of beautiful products. This vision is enabled by a keen focus on our customers, meaning that every decision we make is underlined by a need to create functional, design driven products that are both cost effective and high quality.

“Every decision we make is underlined by a need to create functional, design driven products that are both cost effective and high quality”

What are your ambitions for the company?

As we continue to see that 3D Printing is a viable solution for large scale manufacturing, we aim to expand our supply chain into Asia and North America. We aim to complement this supply chain model by investing in, and incorporating, more sustainable materials and applications. We also look forward to engaging with our existing and future customers to understand where they see this game-changing technology taking their businesses.  

“It is easy to be distracted by a great vision but it’s the focus on the company building blocks that allow you the make progress”

What were the challenges of setting up and how did you overcome them?

All start-ups face similar challenges, regardless of their industry and vision. Amongst the most important to deal with early are cash flow and focus. It is easy to be distracted by a great vision but it’s the focus on the company building blocks that allow you the make progress. This focus also supports cash flow, the earlier you can get your product to market the earlier you can start creating turnover. This in turn massively impacts on your ability to raise funding rounds.

For us this meant understanding our vision on a granular level and then working every day to achieve this.

Group of people sitting around a table with 3D printed objects on it.

The WAZP team.

What is the best piece of advice you got and what advice would you give others considering setting up in Ireland? 

Make a cupcake. By cupcake I mean a small version of your big vision, a small version of the cake. The idea of your product or service can be ideal in our own minds when we start a business. We all want to start big or go home. The secret to success is in always thinking of a big cake but using a small, or a few small cupcakes, to make sure that the next bigger steps are in the right direction. This will save you a lot of disappointment, time and costs and will surely help you to refine the product and service you are offering.

Ireland is a country of amazing opportunities in terms of funding and support for the start-up of businesses. I would advise everybody who is pursuing their own entrepreneurial endeavour to seek the support and tools that are available at Local Enterprise Offices and Enterprise Ireland. From our own experience, we started with the New Frontiers Programme at Local Enterprise Office and then moved to High Potential Start-Up within the Enterprise Ireland Framework. This was a very important first step on our journey.

What does the future hold?

The future of 3D Printing as a tool for the creation and fulfilment of cutting-edge products is very bright. WAZP plans to take a central role in this industry for many years to come. Critical to this is our investment in Research and Development, Global Sales and Global Distribution and in our Team. This is a very fast changing and exciting industry with clearly defined potential, but equally so, future application and uses that are just beginning to be understood give us huge confidence that 3D Printing will play a major role long into the future, our vision is to enable all this potential.

Interview by Olivia McGill

Published: 5 February, 2019

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