2023 Company Update
Where have we been?
When we set out on this journey in September 2022, we had 3 goals:
- Stabilisation and financial reporting
- Consolidation and organisation
- Build and grow
We're really happy to report that phases 1 and 2 worked, and we managed to do a bunch of behind the scenes stuff:
- Converted a US-based sole trader to a functioning UK business
- Providing the financial reporting necessary to fulfil our accounting requirements
- Paying our bills and all sales taxes (including some missed taxes that slipped through the net)
- Cost optimisations to make sure company wasn't losing money
- Update the store language to reduce the amount of customer confusion ("is this a physical model?" anyone?)
We were hoping to move to phase 3 ("build and grow") within 3 - 6 months, but there were more challenges with stabilisation and organisation than we expected, so we kept focus on making sure both sites were stable, particularly with respect to payments and withdrawals, well into May 2023.
We learned a lot about what's possible with the platforms over this time. We looked at the survey results we ran back in October, and paid attention to what was being asked of us.
What have we learned?
From the survey we compared your pain points against the features you'd care most to see, and overlapped that with our ability to have an impact.
Looking at the outcome of that list showed us that creators' businesses work similarly to ours when it comes to high-level priorities, and go through a continuous cycle of improvement:
Given that “business” is a common language between us and Creators, we learned that we would like to consider Creators as business partners, rather than clients or customers. This means we're able to talk more about the impact of changes in business terms.
Building a strategy
The information from the survey expanded our “build and grow” phase beyond its original intention, and we felt it was better to expand this phase out further as its own strategy so we could get feedback and check we were on the right track.
We iterated on this strategy (in presentation form) and then invited some creators to talk to us individually, so we could get some feedback. These creators were picked for their engagement levels - those who had left their email with us in the survey, creators we'd come to know through customer service and Discord, and those who had engaged us directly to ask about our plans.
What's with the secrecy?
It's become traditional for tech companies to hold public presentations, to show off what's coming next and to get people excited about the future. When you hide information behind closed doors, inevitably there's some questions.
We believe in transparency and don't want people to be unclear about what's going on, however perfect transparency to creators and customers also results in perfect transparency to competitors. We're not arrogant enough to believe our plans are revolutionary or even that we're that much competition in the market, however, they are our plans and we've done a lot of thinking and research around them. Given our position right now and speed of execution, we felt it would be wiser to be cautious until we've done some more execution on the strategy. With only two of us, things can take a little longer to get done! Once we're a little further ahead, we can be more public about what's coming up.
While there's much more we're not openly sharing right now, we wanted to show everyone that we're very much alive. As we did with Orynt3D, we've opened up a public Trello board, so you can see what's being worked on and at least some of the things that are coming up.
We've replaced the 3 pillars we started in September 2022 with 3 new ones:
- Brand strengthening
- Ecosystem beginnings
- Business improvements (cost down, revenue up, feedback)
We want to focus on the customer experience for both sites, to help drive traffic and a little customer loyalty.
We're aware MiniHoarder needs some attention, so we're working through advertising and cross-branding to help that.
We're also looking to borrow some of the tactics we've seen used on Wargaming3D to improve the customer experience. As these things impact creators, we'll let you know.
With two storefronts and a desktop organiser (plus a bunch of contacts in various places), we have a lot of separate things in the 3D printing space right now. We're going to start bringing these things together, while retaining the customer-facing brands that people know. None of the products and sites are going away, we're just looking at how we can better integrate them together to improve the overall value proposition of engaging with us as both a creator and a customer.
In September we said that we were able to keep the sites running as they were, which turned out to not quite be true. What we're unable to do is provide the same level of support and investment if we change nothing. We want this to succeed, for creators and customers, so we are going to continue to look at our own costs, how we generate revenue and what key metrics we're using to measure "success" to make sure that we can be in this for a good long time.
To everyone who's engaged with us during the strategy, but also, for everyone who's stuck by us and supported the decisions we've made over the past year. We hope this goes some way to sharing what's going on, and we're looking to be more active in public in future. That said, our emails are always open, and we love meeting you, so if you've got any questions just hit us up!
We know everyone would like to see changes and improvements faster (yesterday is ideal, today is tolerable!) - we promise we're getting there as fast as we're able.
Check out the Trello board to see what we're working on and what's coming next.
PlayablePrints Public ToDo Board