Discover more from michael's writing
advice to ambitious young people #3
"how to find your co-founder?" conversation with jake, ceo of marvel labs
with hundreds of hours spent on coaching calls with ambitious young people, i'd thought i'd start open sourcing some perspective.
“how to find your co-founder?”— conversation with jake, ceo of marvel labs
before we jump into the conversation, here’s what you need to know: jake has been working on a 3d printer that uses different forms of biomass waste, like coffee ground, to make furniture. they use a bio-based binder to hold the print together.
they’ve done pilots with different materials, inculding lumber dustand seaweed, and officially launched in april 2023.
to read more about his startup, check out the recent forbes article.
here’s how the conversation went:
how’d you meet andy?
i met him a few years ago.
how did you keep the relationship going before working together?
initially, he was in between starting his next company. his previous experience in successful startups as well as 3d printing experience was good. we reconnected when he was exploring what was next for him.
how did you decide you’d make a good co-founder pairing?
first, it’s important if we can have drinks together and enjoye each other’s company. if i can’t spend time with them outside of work, then it’s a no for me.
next, i look for complementary skillsets. andy has a long history in the 3d printing space. from ceramics to saw dust, he’s used all different kinds of materials.
i also think about commitment. will they work beyond the 9-5? if we need to work on the weekends or get things done, do i trust them to show up?
other insights shared from the discussion
what’s one piece of advice you would give your younger self?
network. build up your network. it’s a big thing. fundraising, recruiting, and figuring things out all require a network of different people. i would have started expanding my network earlier if i understood this earlier.
how do you handle making progress across different areas of the product and business?
progress over everything else. there will always be uncertainty. we learn more by doing something than overthinking.
what did you take from your skills in marketing to being a founder?
learning how to adapt my story to different audiences. i’ve founder some investors care more about the software we’re designing and other the hardware. some are more business model focused and want the numbers.
getting warm introductions with context before the call has helped, or otherwise i figure it out in the moment based on engagement.
did you have the business use case figured out from the start?
initially, i was testing the sink design out. the first proposal for scale up required too much operating cost for machinery.
it took me more time to figure out what unit economics would work out for higher, repeatable margins.
what’s one thing you think you’re team has done well?
we do the hard things first. one of the first materials we worked with was coffee grounds. with more inconsistency in it’s sizing, there were challenges that came up. it also vairable amounts of moisture. by figuring out how to work with one of the most challenging materials, it’s easy to integrate with new ones because we’ve done so much trouble shooting already.
what was your path like out of school?
initially, i grew up near farms without wi-fi. i thought studying industrial engineering would help me look at machinery. it turns out that was not the case. i switched to mechanical, but eventually focused on electrical engineering because i wanted to learn more.
from there it was marketing, and i’ve since worked on different projects across different companies constantly learning.
currently, i pull from different experiences and different skillsets.
bonus, an interesting vision for the future:
biomass in localized production,
paired with generative software to design anything,
attached to a mobile industrial 3d printer
these in combination could lead to an autonomous lawn mower that prints objects as it cuts grass. no more delivery, only neighborly drop offs. while this is obvious from a builder’s perspective, it seemed too far off for some who wanted to hear about an upcoming future.
takeaways for finding the right co-founder
the dinner test. see if you get along with them outside of work.
seek complementary skillsets. 1 + 1 should equal 3.
look for commitment. they have to be open to beyond the 9-5, m-f commitment.
one of the best part of the nyt times cooking website is the comments.
it’s a bunch of new curious people starting a dialogue with skilled home chefs. if this post resonated with you add something below, and i’ll reply back. i’d love for this to seed more discussion.