Inside a 10,000 square foot production facility on the west side exists an interesting mix of businesses. Boxes of tampons pile high across the aisle from an extrusion line manufacturing filament for 3D printers. Natural skincare products are concocted in one corner, while drones are built not 50 feet away.
It seems like an odd mix, but after hearing the “why?” the picture becomes clearer.
“It was hard to find an appropriate amount of space in a decent location,” says IC3D CEO and Founder Michael Cao.
The 3D printer and filament manufacturer had previously called the Columbus Idea Foundry home. And a shared manufacturing facility outside of the city where the filament was produced. And the OSU Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence. Three locations and none the right fit for the growing company. Moving into a new, larger space solved two major needs: it consolidated operations, and created a more conducive space to bring their growing list of industrial clients.
It was like Goldilocks – most manufacturing spaces were too small or too large for the small yet growing IC3D. However, Cao realized that larger could be “just right.” They would have room to grow, and could sublease space to other businesses in the interim.
The first addition to the warehouse was Michael Maymi and his drone company AimDroix.
“He said, ‘Hey, I’m looking for 500 square feet just to do some light manufacturing and assembly,'” Cao says. “He couldn’t find that kind of size space that wasn’t a portable storage unit.”
And while IC3D and AimDroix had found their spaces, balm skincare was still on the hunt.
As the raw, organic skincare brand that launched earlier this year gained traction, Founder Lindsey Moeller says it was time to switch the strategy from a retail brand with a product, to a lifestyle brand that offers products. The company was also looking to bolster its sales and wholesale accounts, but to do so, had to draw a line in the sand between the brand and the facility in which it was produced – Botavi Labs.
As the herbal lab serves other clients, “We needed to separate those two businesses and this space allowed us to do that,” Moeller says.
She initially turned to the Idea Foundry, where Casey McCarty, COO of the at-capacity makerspace in Franklinton, connected her with Cao.
Moeller found that within the startup world, there are plenty of options for coworking or offices, “But not to have a manufacturing facility and fulfillment and shipping.”
Claire Coder, founder of Aunt Flow, was facing the same problem when she connected with Moeller, and became the fourth in the quartet of businesses headquartered at the production facility.
Despite coming from different industries, “These three folks had the same issue,” Cao says. “They couldn’t find just that small kind of manufacturing and assembly space.”
With their space problems solved, the four businesses now find themselves sharing more than just a warehouse.
There are the tangible things.
“We all share certain services together which makes it much cheaper for us to operate,” Moeller says.
An intern works on various projects for the four businesses. Aunt Flow and balm skincare are able to share a shipping account, lowering costs. IC3D has even printed tampon boxes for Aunt Flow, and could potentially manufacture parts for AimDroix.
There are also the intangible benefits.
“It’s a little bit subjective and difficult to measure, but when you have the different founders – founders are usually those diehard entrepreneurs – you really get to kind off feed off each others’ energy,” Cao says. “When you see other people in the room hustling in their own path it does something to you.”
“Just being around other entrepreneurs is so important to that mental capacity you need to be able to grind,” she says.
It’s all hours of the day, four founders sharing space and sharing experiences. Have a problem? Need advice?
“We can create solutions together,” Moeller says.
Each entrepreneur brings different strengths and different skill sets.
“It’s a nice resource to get other ideas…and ask questions,” Cao says.