May 11, 2015 | By Alec

While numerous 3D printing start-ups have found success in their own right, with the backing of the ever-growing making community, it’s also great to see 3D printing start-ups gain attention (and success) in mainstream society. That, at least, is exactly what Keri Andrews and Alesia Glidewell from You Kick Ass seem to have achieved. Their customized action figure business featured on the latest episode of Shark Tank (episode 625, aired on Friday 8 May), where they convinced shark Mark to invest $100K in exchange for 10% of the business.

Now if You Kick Ass rings a bell, it’s probably because they’ve had quite some Kickstarter success with their fun concept about a year ago. Keri Andrews and Alesia Glidewell (the latter of Portal fame) managed to get $45,000 in funds through Kickstarter for their You Kick Ass concept in the summer of 2014. In a nutshell, they make cool custom superhero action figures (complete with backstory and powers) with individualized heads. The idea is that you upload a photo of your own face, select a superhero body and You Kick Ass transforms you into a very cool hero with a 3D printed full-color head.

While their initial Kickstarter was a great success, the two entrepreneurs went to the Shark Tank to streamline their production and perhaps pursue licensing deals. As it stands, their $60 action figures feature generic superheroes (so nothing remotely connected to licensed Marvel or DC heros) that take four to six weeks to be delivered.

The video from the You Kick Ass Kickstarter.

As the two ladies told reporters, the entire shark experience was nerve wracking. Andrews said they prepared by watching as many episodes as possible and take notes of objections, pitfalls and mistakes made by others, as well as rigorous testing. And yet, stepping out there (and on national television) is terrifying. ‘When they opened the doors to the hallway for us to walk down and meet the Sharks, it was the most terrifying moment of my life,’ Andrews said. ‘I had to fight my urge to turn around and run away! But once we started to present to the Sharks, we calmed down a bit…It was really weird to see the Sharks all sitting in front of us. It felt like we had stepped inside of our television, so in a way it felt almost unreal.’

They entered looking for $100,000 for 10% of the business. Fortunately, the ladies had one trick up their sleeves: they had some samples with them, including a superhero version of every shark. While all sharks were definitely interested, they quickly pointed out the main problem of You Kick Ass: the likeness isn’t fantastic. Nonetheless, the women were given three offers: Robert offered $100,000 for 20, Mr. Wonderful offered $100k with a $10 per doll royalty and gets 5% equity, while Shark Mark offered them $100K for 10%, exactly what they wanted. He was supposedly particularly impressed by their software.

In short, we have definitely not seen the last of Kick Your Ass. But perhaps more importantly, this example shows that 3D printing ventures definitely have an appeal that reaches beyond our own making community. Who will be next?


Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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