3D Alliances is a new consulting company that offers 3D printing companies support to build a professional channel network. As the 3D printing market continues to grow, more and more startup companies enter the market with unique and innovative solutions. As of today, there are more than 500 3D printing companies worldwide dealing directly with developing and selling 3D printing products. Once the development phase is completed, and a company is ready to launch its product and expand globally, there comes the challenging task of building a well-established, global channel network.
Founded by AM industry-veteran Gil Lavi, 3D Alliances aims to become a global hub that connects 3D printing companies and resellers looking to form new and promising business alliances. We met Gil Lavi to talk about this new initiative and to better understand how it works and the value it brings.
Davide Sher: before we dive into 3D Alliances, can you tell us a bit about your background?
Gil Lavi: “I’ve been involved in the printing industry for over 23 years. I started back in 1995 with HP (Indigo), and Kodak (Scitex), which specialize in pre-press and digital presses solutions for the 2D printing industry. In 2006 I joined Objet to help build up the company’s channel network in EMEA, and later on, after the Stratasys merger, to manage the company’s strategic accounts. Since 2015 I’ve been supporting 3D printing startups in tracking down, recruiting and deploying their global channel networks.
DS: What is your objective with 3D Alliances?
GL: “In the past 13 years I’ve been involved directly with deploying sales channels for 3D printing companies. It was and still is a challenging task for many 3D printing companies. Ten years ago, when there were less than a dozen 3D printing companies in the world, it was about finding early adopting resellers that were willing to educate the market. Today, it’s about finding the ones that have the knowledge, experience, and the right go-to-market approach. There is a gap between 3D printing companies and resellers, which needs to be filled. This is where 3D Alliances steps in.”
DS: What makes this process so challenging for 3D printing companies?
GL: “Well, we need to remember there are two sides to this process – 3D printing companies and 3D product resellers. From the side of the companies, if they wish to expand their business globally without wasting valuable time, they need to hire well-experienced channel managers that possess the know-how to search, filter, recruit and manage sales channels. In order to do this properly, they would need at least three persons to cover EMEA, NA & APJ and not all companies can afford it. Sometimes they simply do not recruit the right persons for the job.”
DS: Where are the challenges for the resellers?
GL: “If in the past resellers used to sell mostly the products from a single vendor, especially the larger ones in the industry, today we see a different profile. Many resellers manage 3-4 brands with different complimentary technologies. In some cases, when desktop printing solutions are involved, even up to 6-7 brands. Obviously, there is a limit to how many brands a good and professional reseller can handle. The result is that there are more products in the market than reliable resellers to sell them. Also, it’s important to remember that many of them got burned in the past 3-4 years with reselling new and unfamiliar brands. They found great companies to work with but a lack of experience in supporting sales channels.
DS: How will 3D Alliances bridge the gap between these two sides?
GL: “3D Alliances was launched with a global network of over 500 3D product resellers from 56 countries. These resellers cover products ranging from professional desktop printers to heavy production printers. Some of them have the ability to address specific markets vertically. They are always eager to make sure their portfolio is updated according to their customers’ needs. We help them filter the right companies so that all they need to do is join our network.”
DS: How will 3D Alliances work with system OEM’s and other 3D product manufacturers?
GL: “Our main clients will be the 3D printing companies that are ready to expand globally. Out of hundreds of 3D printing companies in this market, we will work with the ones we think offer innovative products with unique value propositions and leverage our experience in the market to support their efforts in deploying and managing their global channel network. We do not intend to replace their channel managers, but rather support them to be more efficient and successful. We will also help them set a channel management process and methodology that suits them specifically.”
DS: Sounds like a win-win situation…
GL: “We believe both sides could benefit from our services and eventually it will support their efforts in accelerating their revenue streams. Along with the strictly business side of it, 3D Alliances will help with another important aspect which is bridging cultural differences gaps. When a 3D printing company from Europe would like to deploy channels in Asia for example or vice-versa, there are some business codes which need to be considered to make sure communication is smooth and positive. We will leverage our experience in this as well and act as a cultural mediator for both sides to help bring the 3D printing world together.”
DS: Where do you see 3D Alliances 3 years from now?
GL: “We aim to become the industry’s largest hub of 3D printing companies and resellers looking for promising business alliances, acting as a trusted and independent entity that supports the business growth of both parties.”