Glowforge: The Creator’s Ultimate Personal Factory
By Barry Schuler and Chris Shanahan
We’re thrilled to announce our investment in Glowforge’s $43 million Series E round as the company expands its lead in the 3D laser printer market.
The Glowforge community is massive and growing quickly, with millions of incredible new designs being etched and cut each month across hundreds of thousands of printers in homes, schools, and small businesses. Glowforge’s innovative printer has become the product of choice for the 85 million US craft hobbyists when they look to take their crafts to the next level or begin turning their passion into a business. From collectibles and decorations to furniture and custom etchings, if you can dream it, you can print it.
We are tinkerers and engineers inside DFJ Growth. When we first used a Glowforge in 2018, we were blown away by the printer’s quality, ease of use, and breadth of capabilities. In short order, we were making custom boxes to hold small parts like SD chips, all manner of organizers for cables and headphones, and even leatherware like wallets and portfolios.
Built on laser cutter and engraver technology, Glowforge uses a beam of light the width of a human hair to cut, engrave, and shape designs from hundreds of materials, including acrylic, glass, paper, wood, metal, leather, and much more (even chocolate!).
In essence, the Glowforge printer serves as a creator’s personal factory. The company supplies software, designs, and materials enabling creators to bring their imagination into the physical world just minutes out of the box.
Glowforge is led by founder Dan Shapiro, who launched the company with a crowdfunding campaign netting a record-breaking $28 million in sales in 2015. Dan made a big impression on us early in the Covid pandemic. On a call with the team, Dan paused our discussion to reach down into his Glowforge printer to give us a “show and tell” of his latest creation. He produced an “ear saver” for healthcare workers who were wearing ill-fitting masks early in the lockdown. The Glowforge team brought their collective love for crafts to the fight against Covid, catalyzing an effort that ended up supplying 2.5 million ear savers to frontline workers.
Dan and his team are on a mission to democratize access to professional-quality creative capabilities with Glowforge. They’ve expanded the product line to include a range of printers available for different needs, and plan to continue expanding to ensure all creators can access studio-grade tools in every classroom, studio, office, and home across the country.
A decade ago, we established our creator economy thesis, leading us to investments in Patreon, Splice, and Formlabs. Glowforge is a natural extension of our thesis, and we’re excited to partner with Glowforge along with our friends at Foundry, Revolution, and True Ventures!