Q -Felix, what does DyeMansion do? What’s the 30 second elevator pitch?
FE -We help the 3D printing industry transform and industrialize from a prototype technology to the digital manufacturing technology of the future.
Plastic parts that come out of industrial 3D printers have a poor surface quality. We develop automated solutions for the finishing of exactly these plastic parts so that our customers can turn these 3D printed raw parts into high-value products. Our systems and processes help our customers from part cleaning, through surfacing to coloring these parts.
This way we enable our customers to realize all imaginable applications. From perfect fit eyewear, shoe soles, orthotics, to aircraft and personalized car interiors. The digitalization of production affects all areas and our technology makes 3D printed products become a part of our everyday life.
Q -Where did the idea for DyeMansion come from? How did you decide to found DyeMansion?
FE -The idea actually came from our seed investor himself. In the beginning we only wanted to design 3D printed smartphone cases and sell them online. He said that this was the most boring application for 3D printing. But he liked the finish and color that we developed ourselves for the first smartphone cases and said that it would solve a big problem in the industry if we built an automated solution for it.
Q -Is there a specific event in your life which made you decide that you want to build a company from scratch?
FE -Not really. I just always wanted to start my own business. I took my first steps in the corporate world during my studies. This only strengthened me in my decision.
Q -What is the characteristic that has helped you most in your role as founder / CEO?
FE -Being able to excite myself for things and to inspire others as well.
Q -What is your own personal leadership style? Why does it work?
FE -Making decisions and do not be afraid to do something wrong. In a startup, so many decisions have to be made every day. It is extremely important that people are willing to make such decisions. When people ask me what to do, I always ask them how they would do it themselves before I comment on it. And as long as I have the feeling that someone learns from mistakes and that it is important to him that good decisions are made for the company, it is no problem at all to make mistakes. On the contrary: it is an elementary part of learning and becoming better.
Q -What values do you aim to instill within your team?
FE -I'm still in every job interview and tell people directly that I'm just here to find out if they're cool and fit into DyeMansion. The definition of “cool” is of course much more difficult. To be honest, we haven't exactly defined that as a company yet. It's probably a mixture of enthusiasm, fun, honesty, openness and putting the customer in the focus of everything. But as we are approaching the 100 employee mark, we will now address the meaning of "cool" in a timelier manner. If you ask me again in 6 months, I will certainly be able to give you a more concrete answer.
Q -Do you have daily habits - personal or work-related - that shape you and your work?
FE -Not many. I love it not being in a routine. Maybe the half hour before I go to bed and go over all tomorrow's meetings in my head is worth mentioning here.
Q -What learning experience was the toughest, but got you the furthest in your career?
FE -Telling my parents that I decided to not go for a well-paid job in a big company, but found my own company without having an idea what that will mean in the end. In the beginning they struggled with it. But after my well-prepared speech, which is why I really want to do this, they gave me their full support, which helped me a lot on my way.
Q -What has been the best mentor advice you ever received? And maybe the worst advice?
FE -The best advice was from our business angel. He already told me 7 years ago that I should not sign the well-paid job and try to start my own business. After university this would the best and easiest way. Afterwards it only became more and more difficult, he said.
The worst advice was from an external consultant with whom we unfortunately worked together for a while. He said he would solve all our problems if we worked closely with him. That was not the case. A consultant won't solve a single problem in your life.
Q -What are the biggest shifts that you see in technology which will define the next 10, 20 years?
FE -Everything that can be digitized will be digitized. That's a line that Angela Merkel said. And she's known to think about things for a long time before she says anything.
As DyeMansion we help transform the manufacturing industry. One of the oldest industries in the world. That's why it will take a particularly long time here. But it will happen. And then will live in a world with superior products which are tailored to the consumer needs and are manufactured and delivered in a sustainable way.
Q -Where do you get information about your industry and about startups in general? Any reading tips you would like to share?
FE -I read blogs and journals that interest me and yet I spend relevant time on LinkedIn. I also love the DS Insider Podcast from Deutsche Startups. Sven Schmidt is a bit polarizing. But the discussions are at least not as boring as 90% of all other discussions about startups.
Q -Finally, what is one interesting thing not a lot of people know about you?
FE -Authenticity and honesty are my great strength. I don't think there is much that people don't know about me. The craziest thing still not many people know about me is probably that electric fan heaters have an incredible resting effect on me. There is nothing more relaxing for me than being surrounded by the sound and warmth of a fan heater while thinking or coming down. ☺