3D World: Scale model city skyline spurs business for local entrepreneur

3D skyline creator Brandon Warman

Southern Methodist University graduate Brandon Warman, 26, had a 3D printer at his disposal after launching the manual coffee grinder startup Handground with his co-founder and roommate at the time, Daniel Vitiello.

The duo invested in the printer to cut costs and time while making prototypes for Handground.

While working on his 3D modeling, Warman created a 3D printed version of the Dallas skyline. Through a social media post, he discovered the popularity of his skyline and realized people were interested in buying one for themselves. Quickly, Warman’s practice became 3D Printed Skylines.

“The project was not intended to be a business; the intention was to sharpen my 3D modeling skills and produce something that I could put on my desk to appreciate,” Warman said. “I posted a picture of the model on the Dallas Reddit page and began receiving requests from dozens of people to purchase one so I created an Etsy page and the business was born.”

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3D Printed Skylines’ first Kickstarter campaign reached its funding goal of $7,000 in less than eight hours on Oct. 6. In total, the campaign raised about $14,000 in a month and it has been continued on Indiegogo to continue accepting preorders.

The Kickstarter funding will be split among three areas, according to Warman. 3D Printed Skylines will buy another 3D printer, buy materials to fulfill the Kickstarter orders and pay interns as the company expands to new cities.

Each city model is made from polylactic acid, or PLA, a plant-based bioplastic, and mounted on a hand-cut walnut wood base. Each city is also offered in stainless steel PLA, which is “a compound of PLA and finely ground, powderized stainless steel,” according to the website.

White PLA skylines are available on the official 3D Printed Skylines website for $65. Both white and stainless-steel PLA skylines are available for $55 to $115 on the 3D Printed Skylines Indiegogo website.

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The Fort Worth Business Press caught up with Warman for a Q&A session:

You went to SMU and majored in finance. What part of your education would you say is the most beneficial to your entrepreneurial endeavors?

I would have to say that my education in accounting has been most beneficial to my entrepreneurial endeavors. As an entrepreneur, you kind of have to do everything yourself at first. Being able to approach every idea on a numbers-first basis has helped me get a better idea of what an idea is worth and to account for all of the factors necessary to bring an idea to life.

Is there a reason you want to continue on this entrepreneurial path?

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Many. Being your own boss has its perks. I work on my own schedule and can travel while working from my computer. But don’t let that fool you – I work a lot.

Late nights, weekends, or time of day doesn’t really matter when you’re in a startup. You just need to get things done. It doesn’t really feel like work, though, when you work for yourself or a small company because you can see the direct impact your actions have on the success of the company, and that is motivating.

What do you enjoy about creating things, getting the funding and getting these products out to people?

Creating something that provides value to someone else is very fulfilling. I love making people happy and if I can do something that makes people happy while also providing an income for myself, then there’s not much more I can ask for.

Are there any unexpected roadblocks that have come with being a young entrepreneur?

Not that I can think of. In some cases, I think it helps because people can be impressed that you’re starting something at a younger age.

What has been your favorite part of this project?

I’ve received glowing reviews and emails from customers who love their skyline. It’s a great feeling to know that something you have created is providing such delight for others. I think these skylines are awesome but in all honesty, I did not expect such a consistently positive response. That is why I continue to work on this business.

What’s next for 3D Printed Skylines?

More printers, more cities, and possible expansion into other real-world locations and monuments such as iconic buildings, stadiums and land formations.

3D printed skylines