Graphic design major/arts management minor Shai Schechter ’15 has taken the Purchase motto Think Wide Open to a whole new level. He’s found an innovative way to simplify and minimalize emerging 3D printing technology to render it more affordable. His Kickstarter campaign to raise capital for the Deltaprintr surpassed his original goal of $195,000 by over $36,000.
Like any entrepreneur, when faced with a problem, he envisioned a solution.
Enrolled in an introductory sculpture course two years ago, Schechter was frustrated that Art+Design’s 3D laser printer was unavailable for budgetary reasons—a $500 bucket of powder could produce no more than two prints.
Always a tinkerer, he already had a prototype in mind for a more affordable version. He proposed to instructor Eric Wildrick that his version would afford all students access. It would not only cost less to use, but would be more efficient as well.
Wildrick, assistant professor of Art+Design, encouraged him to submit a proposal, for which School of the Arts Dean Ravi Rajan granted him $1,000. He built the printer during an independent study with Wildrick as his sponsor. For Schechter, the experience demonstrated the potential for 3D printing in the educational environment, prompting him to launch the Kickstarter campaign to bring the Deltaprintr to market.
“I think the best thing about Purchase is how supportive the staff is of the students,” says Schechter. “Providing a $1,000 fund to a student is a lot of money and especially a lot of risk in terms of what I was doing. This wasn’t an art piece, but rather a complicated product. Without that support, we probably wouldn’t have made it this far to launch our Kickstarter in the first place.”
The process has taught him much about entrepreneurship. “Launching a Kickstarter is no easy task and takes months of preparation. We put in almost two years of work before launching. Most people think you put up some cool idea and get rich overnight. You’re also legally liable for delivering the end product and you’re putting your reputation on the line,” he explains.
Schechter considers himself a designer first and an entrepreneur second. “One of the great benefits of being an artist is you get to look at the world from a different angle. It’s that angle that has helped us launch this business with a creative spin on it—from designing the product, to marketing it,” he says.