Sonder

         ‘Sonder’ this term describes the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own. This is how Abhijit Shete has chosen to name his 3D printing and prototyping venture. He says, “As you realize that all the people around you have such different and vivid lives running parallel to yours, you also realize they have that many ideas, and I wish to bring these ideas to life with 3D printing technology.”  Well for him, it all started with his twelfth results when his dream to become a surgeon missed its mark by just two marks!  So he sought admissions in Engineering colleges, got admission for MIT (Maharashtra Institute of Technology, Pune)Polymer Engineering.

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Abhijit Shete with the 3D printed souvenir for his friends’ wedding.

 For those who do not know about 3D printing, it is a type of additive manufacturing. Ever bought Udid-dal papads? The packet as a whole is of a cylindrical shape, isn’t it? Each Papad (circular) makes up a layer. When these layers are stacked one upon the other we get a 3D model(cylinder). Now, in 3D printing, we have the freedom to print each layer in a unique shape, to decide the number of layers for a certain height(constraint being the resolution of the hardware and software used in the machine). This is how we get a unique 3D model.  What is done, is this, a 3D CAD (Computer Aided Drawing) is converted to ‘.STL’ file and then divided into ‘n’ number of layers. Each of these layers is then printed one above another(using one of the many 3D printing techniques available in the market). As you might have guessed higher the ‘n’, higher is the accuracy. Advantage? We can make any kind of complex, intricate shape with this new technology, which might not have been possible with conventional manufacturing techniques. Moreover, this technology gives us the opportunity to make customized products, tailored to an individual customer’s needs and wants. It helps in bringing down the prototyping time and cost as well.

    After completing his Bachelors, Abhijit got an offer from NCL(National Chemical Laboratory, Pune), he worked there for around four years with exceptional people.  He had planned to further his education by going for his doctorate studies, but due to various reasons it did not pan out.  He had always wanted to do something different and impactful, around that time 3D printing was a new buzzword in town  and so Sonder was born.

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3D printed Jewelry

The journey, so far has by no means been easy or smooth. With no experience in business management (having worked in and Research and Development in NCL), it has been an uphill battle. All the knowledge he gained on the matter was from online videos, blogs and books, which according to Abhijit’s experience, do little to help you in an eastern consumer-based market.  So, when he had set out on this mission, it was with an incomplete market survey (at least this is what he has come to believe with hindsight) and a mind, full of ideas and optimism. Now, with time he says, “I have learned to temper my optimism to realism.

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Lithophanes

His parents live in Nashik and both work. The thing I found the most amazing is that when Abhijit approached his parents to inform them of his plans, they did not try to dissuade him, though what he was trying to do was risky and especially so for a married, twenty-eight year old (specifically in our society if he is a man, even more so if his wife is earning). They said that they would support him financially for the next few years and he should figure things out in that period.  So thus with full support from his wife, his parents’ blessings and all of his savings, Abhijit set out on this journey.

He has now acquired all the technical know-how, to repair and modify the 3D printing equipment to the extent that his friends working with 3D printing equipment call him up with their problems; and has experimented with various polymers. He paints the 3D printed product for achieving different colours instead of using different polymer compounds for different colours. This strategy reduces inventory and helps combat market uncertainty to an extent.  Currently, he is working on Proof of Concept projects with Automotive manufacturers to bring 3D printing to shop floor instead of limiting its use to the prototyping stage. He is a regular supplier for mementos for NCL. His recent clients have been bio-medical device manufacturers for tools, implant prototypes and gauges,  an Architect from Mumbai for city models and some individuals for Lithophanes (3D photos). His experience and knowledge in the field of polymer science and engineering has come to his aid more than once in his endeavours and I suspect it makes the process all the more enjoyable for him. Meanwhile, he also has been working on in-house projects to design and manufacture gadgets to make life simpler. He plans to expand his business by branching out in various fields.

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Smart City Model

His initial investment has yet not evened out, but he has received an investment from a Pune based entrepreneur, who is renowned in 3D printing business. He has started getting interesting projects in the engineering, architecture and art fields; and is hopeful for the future.

As always, I will be back in June with a new venture or venturist, hope to see you too….

 

3 Monkeys Studios

I have come to believe that there are two types of people in this world, people who dream about doing things and people who do the things they dream about. And I have observed that  the people in the former category obtain energy through some undetermined sources and shift into the second category, but all the people in the first category are not able to make this shift.

What is it that makes these few people different from the ones who remain in the first category? Is it an intrinsic quality of these people or are there some environmental factors that affect this ?

In my quest to find answers to this I am planning to interact with people who have ventured in the unknown in pursuit of their dreams. This month I have interacted with Sujay Waghmare and Nachiket Pendse from 3 Monkeys Studios.

The first time I saw or heard about 3 Monkeys Studios was through a PNG Advertisement Film on Facebook. As these were my seniors treading through so far unknown waters(at least to me), naturally I was intrigued. Even during their Final year in BE, Aniket was sure he was going into entertainment sector, while I knew nothing about Sujay and Nachiket’s plans, this did not come as a surprise. Even then, when we were working together for Purushottam Karandak 2012, they were very dedicated and enthusiastic, not to mention they had been working with ‘MIT Cultural'(engaged in creation and production of Dramas) for a long time.

Aniket joined a few editing courses after his bachelors and Sujay and Nachiket started working, but in between this, they had some free months in which they made some videos for their enjoyment. Here itself it gets interesting, out of all the ways they could have spent their time, they spent it in creating videos. They had participated in Mood Indigo’s short film competition too, during their final year and secured third position there in their pilot attempt. After a conversation with one of their friends who was in this video making business, they realized that it paid well too. And thus this idea started forming in their minds.

Then both Nachiket and Sujay started working, while Aniket got busy with his courses and Nataks, during this time they got a small project to shoot videos about finalist teams for ‘IT Karandak’. For this, Aniket used to go everywhere with the camera and Nachiket and Sujay used to alternately take leave from their respective jobs and accompany him. People liked their videos a lot, as they were unique. Nachiket gives the credit for this success to his Drama Background. According to Sujay their ‘MIT Cultural’ experience has taught them a lot about creation and production of dramas and also about working together.S+N+A2

When Nachiket thought of quitting his job, Sujay had moved to Delhi for his work but he was of the opinion that they should start working towards their goal regardless of this, Aniket was ready and they got down to business. Sometimes, I wonder, if this dedication, this understanding is what it takes to form a good working atmosphere?

Then they got other projects for PNG, CDAC and many wedding stories. To shoot wedding stories was not a part of their plan at all, but when the opportunity arose they took up the challenge and today wedding stories is one of their core competencies. I have seen some of their wedding stories and have found them superbly done. They are the right mix of funny and sentimental, happy and wistful,  exciting and nostalgic. After seeing their videos one cannot help but get attached to the bride and groom and their story.

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Video’s shared by 3 Monkeys Studios

The turning point for them, especially in wedding stories, came with Alok Rajwade and Parna Pethe’s wedding. This story has got about Two Lakh likes on YouTube. They have even done a documentary for ‘Wanwasi Kalyan Ashram’ as a way to help them get funding. Their documentary has immensely helped this cause.

When I asked them about their motivation, they weren’t hesitant but were united in answering it as the drive to do better in terms of their art. Is this drive towards self excellence the key? It is not unwavering self assurance because it is not like they never doubt themselves or their decision, but being a team of three helps here as when one is shrouded in doubt the others can always see the light. They are still working on many aspects of their business but they have a sound strategy to increase their core competencies and expand their market segment.

The way they speak of their work itself shows how much they love it. But even they do not like every aspect of their work, but just like all of us they have accepted it as a part and parcel of life. They find their work fulfilling and adventurous is obvious and yet they have allowed their ideas of how their business should be run to change with time and experience.

In all this what I have observed is people who did not want to go into creating video films because of something but who wanted to make videos simply because they enjoyed it and not something else that it did for them. I think the way they work as a team is also very important factor here, their self motivation is doubtless enviable. What do you think?

I will be back in February with a new venture or venturist, hope to see you too…..