VELO³ᴰ Enters Next Phase of Growth
In March, VELO³ᴰ, a leader in additive manufacturing (AM) for high-value metal parts and Piva’s portfolio company, announced that it will merge with JAWS Spitfire Acquisition Corporation, a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) run by Barry S. Sternlicht and Matthew Walters. The transaction values the company at $1.6 billion and positions VELO³ᴰ for growth in the exploding market for 3D printing. The company currently works with companies like Honeywell, Boom Supersonic, Chromalloy, and Lam Research. We are excited to continue our partnership with the company into its next phase of growth. I recently sat down with VELO³ᴰ CEO Benny Buller to find out more about the company’s technology, its impact on manufacturing, recent progress, and his thoughts on what it will mean to be a publicly traded company.
Benny Buller, Founder and CEO, VELO³ᴰ
Adzmel Adznan: Hi Benny! It’s great to catch-up with you again and thank you for taking some time off your extremely busy schedule to sit down and chat with us.
The world has definitely changed since we closed VELO³ᴰ’s Series D in Q2 last year. In one of our earliest conversations, I vividly recall your unyielding belief in additive manufacturing and its potential to change the world. So with the benefits of new perspectives that we all went through in the last year and a half, how is VELO³ᴰ changing the world? What are new ways/techniques in 3D manufacturing that VELO³ᴰ has introduced to the world that allows for a transformative shift in the manufacturing industry?
Benny Buller: Just like there was no single technological breakthrough that allowed Neil Armstrong to first walk on the Moon, the VELO³ᴰ secret recipe is due to a full-stack solution made up of integrated software, hardware and the underlying manufacturing process itself. Our solutions are the result of more than $150 million in R&D and are protected by 48 patents, so there is quite a lot of innovation under the hood.
However, it’s not how we do what we do that is interesting, but rather, what our customers are able to accomplish because of what we do is where things become interesting. The unique capabilities we provide enable the imaginations and ambitions of some of the most talented and creative engineers and designers on the planet. Because of VELO³ᴰ, people who are working on projects to colonize Mars, fight climate change and send manned spacecraft across the solar system and back are finally able to build the parts they need to accomplish feats that will define the future of all of humanity.
Adzmel: Benny, I have been told in my conversations with young entrepreneurs that you are definitely one of the business and technical leaders that they look up to in the AM space, especially given what you have achieved today with VELO³ᴰ and the recent announcement to go public with JAWS Spitfire. Can you shed more color to your journey so far?
Benny: Before founding VELO³ᴰ, I was an investor, but I wasn’t interested in 3D printing, I was interested in space. One day one of my portfolio companies was trying to 3D-print rocket engines but was having trouble getting exactly what they wanted from the tech as it existed at the time.
Despite the hype around 3D printing, the engine couldn’t be printed as it was designed and needed major design compromises that would drastically reduce the engine’s performance. As an engineer and physicist, this was a problem I wanted to understand more about, and as I learned more, I realized that if we could perfect this process, it would open up a completely new set of applications with the potential to transform the world. It was clear to me then that someone needed to solve this problem, and that was what started me on the path to founding VELO³ᴰ.
Adzmel: The global pandemic inadvertently shed the much-needed light on the fragile reality of our supply chain and impact of offshoring to the environment. I know for a fact that you have been a strong advocate for a more resilient and green supply chain, even before it was trending last year. How does VELO³ᴰ advocate for creating a more efficient, more reliable and greener supply chain?
Benny: We are developing a specialized supply chain through our partnerships with contract manufacturers who can build impossible parts for customers using VELO³ᴰ technology, increasing demand responsiveness and reducing inefficiency.
We do this by allowing customers to use a “digital inventory.” Say for example, you run a business with 10 locations that use the same widget. And maybe each location consumes 20 of these widgets per year. In the past you would have to keep 20–30 widgets in physical inventory in each location, and then you would need thousands in a warehouse because otherwise, if you run out at one or more locations, the whole business will suffer. Now with VELO³ᴰ tech, instead of holding 20–30 widgets in on-site inventory, you can keep just a handful and when one gets used, you can immediately replenish the stock with AM through one of our contract manufacturers.
The impact is a much more efficient and reliable supply chain with enormous sustainability upsides.
Adzmel: And lastly, Benny — it is a tremendous success to bring VELO³ᴰ to the public market and signals to the market that perhaps that the world is ready for the industry to unlock the full potential of AM. What does being a public company mean to you? And the industry at large?
Benny: For us, being a public company is about giving our customers the confidence that they can rely on our continued partnership for the long-term. Our technology is creating an entirely new market for high-value metal parts, and as we introduce more and more customers to our technology, it helps them to know that we have the financial discipline and transparency of a public company.
But more than that, we have a plan for broad commercialization of our manufacturing solutions. This will require additional investment in our go-to-market — both in the U.S. and internationally — as well as continuing to invest in our technology roadmap, but the end result will be a paradigm shift not only in how our customers build the parts of yesterday and today, but also how we imagine, design and deliver the parts of tomorrow.
We at Piva Capital are big believers in Benny, his team and the continued successes that the company is enabling their high-tech customers. Read here to learn more about why we decided to invest in VELO³ᴰ last year.