When our team came together 10 months ago, we decided from the very beginning to make SprayPrinter a global business. We knew that this decision means a lot of time abroad, especially for me and Henry who is responsible for production engineering. By now I have had business trips to Warsaw, London, San Francisco, Düsseldorf, Stuttgart, Bejing, Zhen Zhen… And I just returned from Barcelona.
We were invited there by a spray paint manufacturing company Montana (MTN). It was an especially exciting visit for me since it involved many of my facets. Namely, I’ve studied marketing and financial management, but also renewable energy resources which means I have also studied chemistry. I was thrilled to explore the opportunities the best spray paint manufacturer could offer us.
Actually, we had first contacted MTN even before our Indiegogo campaign. To be precise, there are four companies under MTN Group. One of them deals with distribution and resellers, the second with development of new products, the third branch handles sales to end-users and online markets and the fourth company focuses on sales within the U.S. itself. We had a connection with the latter firm.
It is important to search for possible new collaboration partners, but business is done between people and I find it very important to have a chance to look my strategic partners in the eye and communicate with them as real human beings. We had cooperation talks with the MTN’s U.S. branch throughout several months, but they directed us to the MTN headquarters in Barcelona, which took the whole relationship to the next level. They manufacture/produce everything themselves since MTN has set really high quality standards for themselves.
The founders of MTN have background in street art and they know that street artists have the highest demands for spray cans. Street artists have thus been in MTN’s focus in terms of product development from the very beginning, since the year 1994.
However, a lot of people still never held a spray can in their hands. Most people don´t have the habit of using spray paint, be it in interior design or giving a new look to their furniture etc. It’s understandable, you need to wear a respirator when using acetone-based paints. Recently MTN introduced a new water-based spray paint. This means that even children can now use them and it opens up a variety of opportunities for spray paint usage. We definitely benefit from it as well because SprayPrinter enables to bring spray paint to places it hasn’t been used in before, at least not frequently. We’ve already had one pilot project together with MTN, they developed a product – SprayPrinter cleaning fluid – especially for us. It’s made for cleaning out the system after printing.
More than that, MTN is developing a special spray paint for SprayPrinter users so that the pixels will be sharper, handling more convenient not to mention safer and the final quality of the print remarkably higher. We have also discussed co-branding possibilities. Plus, MTN’s distribution branch will switch SprayPrinter into their resellers’ network. This helps us reach 60 countries with only one step. We’ll be going to Barcelona again in September to discuss further collaboration opportunities, this time our inventor and their CEO will be behind the same table and we will spray some paint.
There is a wide range of possible applications for our technology and this means that the end-users have different expectations in terms of how the paint should act, if it’s erasable, edible etc. Montana has tremendous chemical development capabilities and they are willing to share them with us.
We know that in order to grow SprayPrinter’s valuation we need the best partners in the world. There have been two investment rounds so far and our investors share our faith that SprayPrinter could become a globally appreciated product, technology and business model. That is where we’re headed. Our team carries this faith with full dedication, starting with product development, manufacturing, paint development and building a resellers’ network. There are ongoing collaborations with other partners as well to back us in different fields.
Startups have to be focused on creating a loyal client base, finding new ways of creating value to their clients. One of the ways for us to do that is selling paints and cleaning liquids. In the long run we envision that our app will open a door for a decent marketplace. We see it as Airbnb of beautiful walls. The app will bring together those who have a SprayPrinter and want to buy paints, those selling their designs and those looking for someone to decorate their walls or an exhibition booth.
Sometimes it feels as though fortune is smiling at SprayPrinter. The way we have found strategic partners, investors or how our team came together. But fortune comes to those who welcome it. And it requires tons of work to make it feel at home.