We had the good fortune of connecting with Samantha Snabes and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Samantha, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Although this is my second company, I never considered myself an entrepreneur and seemed to have stumbled into both ventures with friends in pursuit of solving a problem. While working as a contractor for NASA I met Matthew who was in the same Directorate. We also were both volunteers for Engineers Without Borders NASA JSC, a group of NASA astronauts, engineers, and scientists who wanted to translate what they were learning about solar energy, confined spaces, water quality, and water purification and take it to the developing world. We received the opportunity to travel to Nicaragua, Uganda, Rwanda, and saw a lot of frustrations around dependence on aid & imported goods, as well as high unemployment and the problem with plastic-based waste. More importantly, the people we met were really brilliant. This gave Matthew and I the idea to ultimately make large-scale, affordable, industrial open-source 3D printers as a way for people to make their own stuff independently, using this plastic waste. The maker movement was just building momentum back then, but we realized current industrial 3D printers were too expensive, and not modular, so we came up with the vision for Gigabot and applied to Startup Chile, which offers $40,000 to start, or scale, your idea in Latin America. We quit our jobs, moved to Chile, and started the company.
What should our readers know about your business?
At re:3D we are working to enable anyone, anytime, anywhere to have the tools they need to independently problem-solve onsite. As part of this focus, we are committed to decimating the cost & scale barriers to functional 3D printing. After pioneering the world’s first affordable, human-scale industrial 3D printer (the Gigabot), re:3D is now enabling 3D printing from reclaimed plastic via directly from pellets or flake (Gigabot X). Along the way, we’ve been honored to donate one Gigabot for every 100 3D printers sold to someone trying to make a difference. We are also passionate about supporting conversations around new job creation and ensuring that our offices are invested in local entrepreneurship & education initiatives. Bootstrapping a socially-driven, open-source, hardware company that manufactures in the USA is a road less traveled when compared to our peers on accelerators we’ve done. We have to be very creative and lean to defy the odds. As I grow as an officer in the Air Force, I think I am growing as a teammate at re:3D. I am thankful for the opportunity to be exposed to new leadership skills and techniques that hopefully improve my ability to contribute at re:3D. The military also has exposed me to techniques to better manage my time and help me make quick decisions, which we often must do at re:3D. I joined the reserves on my lunch hour at NASA JSC when I was 29 because I wanted a way to serve and give back. I had never planned to be in the military. Similarly, I never chose to be an entrepreneur. I simply chose to pursue a mission with peers. This led to the founding and acquisition of my first venture (a life sciences company), which led to joining some friends as a NASA contractor and resulted in leaving with like-minded peers to form re:3D. In hindsight, I would say I am an accidental entrepreneur. I think what these experiences have taught me about myself as a leader is that I am very independent, mission-driven and motivated by the amazing people I serve alongside. People tell us at re:3D that we are crazy almost every day for not fundraising, for not outsourcing our manufacturing and assembly. For donating one 3D printer for every 100 sales, for spending so much time and money trying to create large scale affordable 3D printers to print from plastic waste in an undefined market. For opening an outpost in Puerto Rico and staying after the hurricanes, and for being open-source. While we may be crazy, we have had the honor of working with a team and community for 5 years. I don’t think re:3D’s success is necessarily a testament to my leadership, rather an outcome of a dynamic and passionate group of people that work hard together, that I gain inspiration from every day.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The first stop on our day would be to grab breakfast tacos from Taco’s My Way, a staple for our team! We’d then round the corner to our office to pair it with coffee from Matthew’s fancy expresso maker that he keeps in the factory to get through long days. Then we would spend a couple of hours receiving one of Charlotte’s amazing tours and workshops in our factory – currently #5 on Trip Advisor for workshops/tours in all of Houston! (https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g56003-d17599744-Reviews-Re_3D_3D_Printer_Factory-Houston_Texas.html). For lunch we head down the road to NOBI Public House for Asian Fusion awesomeness. Afterwards we would head around the block to take selfies at Space Center Houston & rest our feet on the tram tour of NASA JSC so we could share crazy stories of past & current teammates & friends. We’d then work up an appetite hiking around the Armand Bayou before ducking over to Seabrook to watch the sunset over drinks at Chelsea’s wine bar. We’d then spend the night laughing with friends & eating lots of pizza at Boondoggles.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My Co-founder Matthew. He’s the brains behind Gigabot, and has blessed me with so much of his time & friendship in this crazy journey that spanned 7 years of ups & downs through deployments, hurricanes, and start-up chaos (including a pandemic:).
Instagram: @re3dprinting, @samanthasnabes
Linkedin: @re3dprinting, @samanthasnabes
Twitter: @re3dprinting, @samanthasnabes
Facebook: @re3dprinting, @samanthasnabes