“People Should be #1 in Your Priority List” 5 Startup Strategies with uMake CEO Evi Meyer
Choosing the right people to join your team is crucial to the success of any business. Without the team we’ve built our journey would have ended long ago — if it even got off the ground. Along the way, goals, objectives, products, and people will evolve. If you’re at the head of this organization, your role is to make sure that everyone adapts and remains committed to the mission.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Evi Meyer, CEO of uMake, a 3D design platform helping creatives & designers express their ideas quickly and intuitively in 3D.
Yitzi: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
Growing up in a small village in Israel made finding creative outlets a bit challenging. I was lucky enough to have a PC with Photoshop that I spent countless hours learning, which set me on the path to becoming a graphic designer. I accepted a role at Autodesk as a designer, where I helped create the first CAD (Computer Aided Design) — base app, AutoCAD. I later became a Product Manager for the product.
I believe most people, if not all, have a creative streak. Creativity needs to be exercised and sharpened. But often we push creativity aside because, well, that’s the way “life” works. The fact that a design software helped me channel my creativity and change the course of my life still fascinates me today.
We want to provide others with this opportunity to embrace their creativity. Maybe not to become designers, but to help them see the value in this skill. The potential to be creative in 3D seemed like the perfect place to start. Together with my co-founder, Erik Sapir, we built uMake — a powerful 3D creation platform for the iPad made for hobby 3D creators and professional designers.
We’re on a mission to free the creativity of people and businesses. That’s the core of what we do and the reason we come to work every day.
We started with uMake, an innovative design app that allows people to create in 3D. With a robust toolset and friendly user interface, designers can sketch their ideas on an iPad and quickly create 3D objects from them. Our community is dedicated to their creative pursuits, and their work proves it every day.
Now that Augmented Reality (AR) is more widely available on mobile devices, we’re focusing our efforts on enabling people and businesses to create engaging AR experiences. We are excited to see the fun and creative ways that people use this new technology to take content to the next level.
Yitzi: Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company
Leading a startup is hard and we are very serious about what we do, but, we do enjoy a good laugh or funny moment here and there.
One funny story that comes to mind is when we were pitching uMake. We were lucky enough to present to Phil Schiller, SVP of Marketing at Apple. Erik and I had practiced for days on the pitch and demonstration. We thought we were ready, but that changed when Phil was in the room with us. We just couldn’t contain our excitement. So while we were demonstrating the app, our hands were shaking so much that we could barely draw anything using the Apple Pencil. I think everyone in the room noticed, but we quickly took a few deep breathes and everything after that was great.
Yitzi: What makes your business stand out? Can you share a story?
What makes us stand out is our flexibility. We’ve built a 3D creation engine from scratch, which allows us to tailor experiences for different users and scenarios. We’ve seen people use our products in incredible and unexpected ways. From industrial designers to architects to creative people who just love to design in 3D — many of them doing it for the very first time using uMake.
One memorable moment that comes to mind is when we witnessed a user design a car and had a full-scale version of it 3D printed in less than two weeks using our app. His name was Aurelien Francois, a 2D artist, and he used uMake to create the initial 3D concept that eventually led to the creation of a car for Local Motors.
But this is only the tip of the iceberg. We’ve seen Lighting Engineer from Thailand use uMake to plan lighting rigs and engineering setups for fixtures on stage. We’ve also seen tier one manufacturing companies use the app in 80% of their workflow to create next-generation bottles. Visions we could have never seen coming when we started the app.
Yitzi: How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
uMake is all about bringing positivity and goodness into the world. We’ve seen teens embrace their creative voices in ways they never would have before. One of our most devoted users has mentioned to us before that our product has genuinely changed his life. Through uMake he was able to be more open in his creative and personal family endeavors, which we see as a huge success.
Yitzi: What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I Started my Business” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Believe in your mission — Believing in what you’re doing is probably the most important lesson for everyone to learn in both corporate and startup settings. Passion is also key. It is the driving force behind moving your products and ideas forward. Both will get you through those inevitable peaks and valleys of running a startup. We have received our fair share of “No’s”. Believing in our mission helped keep us above water and moving forward.
- People should be #1 in your priority list — Choosing the right people to join your team is crucial to the success of any business. Without the team we’ve built at uMake, our journey would have ended long ago — if it even got off the ground. Along the way, goals, objectives, products, and people will evolve. If you’re at the head of this organization, your role is to make sure that everyone adapts and remains committed to the mission.
- Be open-minded — Falling in love with an idea is easy. But it can also be harmful to your mission and products. Maintaining the core of your vision is indeed a good thing, but always keep an open mind when it comes to how to fulfill this vision. In the app economy, things change quickly. The market is so dynamic, making it critical to keep track of what’s going on and ensure you rise to meet the challenge.
- Always learn — Continuous learning is a rule of thumb at uMake. We know that there is always something new to discover to help us advance in our roles. Static thinking is a recipe for disaster. Executives who lead people should avoid this mindset at all costs. You should be open to learning from other experiences, read, listen to feedback from your users, from your team, and gain as much knowledge as possible in order to make the best decisions.
- Enjoy the ride — I know it sounds like a cliché, but it can be difficult to enjoy what you’re doing. Sometimes we work so hard and sacrifice so much (life, health, friendships and more), that we can forget to appreciate the good things in life. Having a startup is not easy, but it’s one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. Sometimes it’s good to step back for a moment and enjoy the things that brought you to that point in the first place.
Yitzi: Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
I would love to have lunch with John Lasseter. The man is one of the most innovative visionaries of our time. Hearing his stories at Pixar and Disney would be fun and educational all at once. A masterclass in creativity and storytelling from John is an opportunity that no sane person would turn down. I’d also welcome advice on how to pick the right Hawaiian shirt!
Yitzi: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!