In Bulgaria, an eBay for 3D Printable Designs Called Threeding Emerges
With a Foothold in Eastern Europe, Threeding Challenges 3D Printing Marketplace Incumbents
Tony Kitipov is building a world-class marketplace for 3D printable files. It just so happens that Tony lives in Bulgaria and is creating his foothold in Eastern Europe rather than Silicon Valley or Manhattan.
“We were inspired by the 3D printing industry after several visits of the United States where we saw couple of 3D printing facilities,” said Threeding.com Founder Tony Kitipov in an exclusive interview with On 3D Printing.
Threeding is a Bulgarian startup founded Kitipov and students of the Bulgarian National Academy of Art, Cveta-Maria Partaleva and Stan Partalev.
“We are certainly not the first one globally in this niche but we are definitely the first platform for 3D file sharing in Central and Eastern Europe,” explained Kitipov.
Threeding has modeled itself after successful online marketplaces, such us eBay, by creating a two-sided network of sellers – in this case designers – and buyers.
The company gives designers the option of selling their models or distributing them for free. Since the marginal cost of these digital designs is zero, designers pick the free path to grow their fanbase and then sell their best designs for a profit.
Threeding currently charges a 40% commission to the seller, but they are planning to lower this commission in early 2014, says Kitipov.
Keeping it Like (Early) eBay
IP infringement was quite a hot topic over the last year in the 3D printing industry. With the emergence of 3D scanning technology, what is to stop a designer from ripping off a proprietary design protected by copyright law?
Threeding explained that it is not in the business of arbitrating IP infringement cases. “Threeding.com is not a direct seller of 3D files but only offers a sharing platform and charges a commission on a sold item, i.e. acts like as a broker,” explained Kitipov in an interview with On 3D Printing.
By not directly selling designs, Threeding is taking a page from the early days of eBay: connect buyers and sellers, don’t get involved in the transaction.
Targeting the Global Design Workforce
Where Threeding may have an edge is in its geographic origins. There are many talented designers in Central and Eastern Europe who regularly work on contract for U.S. and Western European companies through marketplaces like 99designs and oDesk. Could Threeding tap into this design workforce and enable these people to sell designs to customers in their own part of the world?
Threeding.com was launched in December is growing its design database rapidly. Go to threeding.com to learn more about the 3D printing marketplace.
Thanks to Tony Kitipov for this interview!