UTEP Student Launches a 3D Printing Startup, Fueled by Bessel Mentorship
by Ann Vogel
Diego Fogle has always thought of himself as entrepreneurial. He comes from a family full of entrepreneurs. But in the spring of 2020, he was ready to turn one of his many ideas into a real business.
He’d been studying mechanical engineering at UTEP and had learned about industrial additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing. He wanted to learn more, so he signed up for a special course on additive manufacturing and entrepreneurship. The course is developed and taught by Prof. Ryan Wicker, founder and director of the W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation, and challenges students to create a business concept based on the Keck Center’s twenty-plus years of expertise in additive manufacturing.
A few weeks in, Diego had an idea. He wanted to launch a 3D printing marketplace, and he shared the idea with one of the course’s mentors, Bessel founder Chris Danek. Prof. Wicker invited Chris to share elements of the Bessel Origin program with the class, and mentor the student teams.
Diego met with Chris and explained his idea. For the rest of the semester, Chris mentored Diego and steered him on the next steps in launching a startup. His advice included:
Speak directly to potential customers. Find out what they want and need. Develop a customer persona. Ask them for feedback. Let customers give the business its direction.
Find a way to launch a minimum viable product (MVP).
Learn more about the lean startup model. Chris pointed Diego to resources about lean startups, design thinking, and smart startup funding models.
After just a few months developing his idea under Chris’ mentorship, Diego has partnered with his brother Mark to launch Printari, a marketplace for 3D-printed products — like Etsy for 3D-printed products.
Diego’s near-term goal is to help independent sellers connect with buyers who need 3D-printed COVID protection gear, like earsavers to wear with PPE. The site also offers 3D printers and filaments for people who are interested in getting into 3D printing, and Diego is exploring ways to help sellers protect and sell their 3D printing designs.
“I recommend Bessel Origin for anyone who wants to start a business,” he says. “The process is really overwhelming initially, but Chris gave me structure to guide the startup process. He showed me a course to follow.”
If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, or you’re just looking for experience working on emerging ideas for innovative companies, check out the Bessel Origin program. We’re accepting applicants for upcoming cohorts now!