In this episode of the Dealmakers’ Podcast, we dive into the inspiring journey of a true visionary, Dan Shapiro. Raised by parents deeply rooted in academia, Dan’s upbringing was steeped in the worlds of communications and computer science.
His venture, Glowforge, has attracted funding from top-tier investors like DFJ Growth, Foundry Group, Revolution Growth, and True Ventures.
In this episode, you will learn:
- Upbringing in a family of professors, specializing in computer science and communication laid the foundation for his interest in tech startups
- Education at Harvey Mudd encouraged a broad understanding of engineering disciplines, preventing specialization and fostering a versatile skill set
- Unexpected journey into Microsoft led to five impactful years where he contributed to major projects like Windows 98 and XP, gaining invaluable insights into a growing tech giant.
- Shift to startups post-Microsoft led to the creation of a Linux-based cell phone company, highlighting the early innovation and adaptability required in the tech industry.
- The profound shift in mindset between big corporations and startups, particularly in resource allocation and focus, as discussed in his book
- A disciplined approach to M&A negotiations underscores the importance of establishing clear terms, valuing the company, and prioritizing the well-being of his team.
- Venture with Glowforge reflects a lifelong mission to empower everyone with the ability to create, leveraging technology for accessible, customizable manufacturing.
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About Dan Shapiro:
Dan Shapiro is a Co-Founder and serves as Chief Executive Officer and Board Member at Glowforge. He serves as a Board Member at Bonanza and co-founded StartupVille.
Dan is the Founder of Robot Turtles and serves as its Chief Executive Officer. He is also the Founder and CEO of Sparkbuy Inc., a comparison-shopping website.
Prior to Sparkbuy, Dan had founded Ontela and served as its Chief Executive Officer. He sold his last company to Google. His last side project was Robot Turtles, the best-selling board game in Kickstarter history.
Dan builds drones, and has authored Hot Seat: The Startup CEO Guidebook. He has been awarded seven patents and received his B.S. in Engineering from Harvey Mudd College.
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Read the Full Transcription of the Interview:
Alejandro Cremades: Alright, hello everyone and welcome to the dealmaker show. So today. We have a very exciting founder serial founder. You know he’s done it multiple times you know the last one he actually sold a company to Google so really amazing stuff and day. Yeah, so we’re going to be learning about the journey you know with each one of those companies. Also about a book that he published as well and we’re gonna be learning about all the good stuff that we like to hear especially when it comes to building scaling financing and exiting so without further ado. Let’s welcome our guest today Dan Shapiro welcome to the show.
Dan Shapiro: Thank you so much for having me alejandro. It is a pleasure to be here.
Alejandro Cremades: So then so tell us about live growing up because you were the child of 2 professors growing up in in North Dakota how was life you know, give us a walkthrough memory lane so that we can get to know you a little bit.
Dan Shapiro: So yeah, my parents were ah ah both professors speeching communications and ah computer science. My dad computer science mom speech and communications they collaborated on research on computer mediated communications so they were some of the first folks to explore what it was like to work together over email and. So I was 12. We lived in fargo so there were 3 of us my brothers became ah ah, economist at Uc Berkeley my youngest brother my middle brothers the host of all things considered on Npr and so one took after dad on the mass side one took after mom on the communication side I kind of wound up in the middle doing tech startups and all that but ah moved to. Portland when I was 12 and discovered love in science and engineering and wound up working at the organ museum of science and industry somewhat presciently working in the holography lab using lasers to make amazing designs for the guests at the ah the museum and science center.
Alejandro Cremades: So then tell us about you know. Also I mean you go you go to school you know, ah for engineers and then right after that you know rather than starting your own thing you know because obviously that happened a little bit later, you decided to go into corporate. You know you obviously worked at really big companies like Microsoft which I thought which I think I think that that obviously gives you the idea of what it would look like if you would build something into you know something. Perhaps you know, meaningful. But basically I mean you. You did a little bit of of both. You know, not only the corporate side but then also getting to learn the smaller side of things you know, perhaps you know with the startups of some of your friends before you actually win at it on your own. What what were some of the things that you failed or that. Perhaps you wanted to learn or or or the sequence of events that needed to happen for you to become an entrepreneur.
Dan Shapiro: So I got an engineering degree at Harvey Mudd and Harvey mud is interesting because they don’t let you specialize so I couldn’t be ah, an electrical or mechanical had to do a little bit of everything although I really loved electrical and mechanical and ah ah, the interviewers came around from all the usual the usual suspects and I wasn’t planning on interviewing at Microsoft because I wanted to do hardware but a friend of my dad said. No no, you got to have him go interview for Microsoft so I went in I figured it was a practice interview and I fell in love. Was a job as a program manager on the windows team working to deliver windows ninety eight which was going to go out to tens hundreds of millions of people and I was going to get to help guide a piece of it and I wound up working there for 5 years worked on things like the control panel and windows xp and video drivers and storage components in windows 2000 got to present to bill and Steve and was there early enough that I could see a little bit. It looked like ah a company that had grown up rather than a company that was huge and had always been huge and would always be huge and I could see those glimmerings like the founders were still there and I could still see them involved which really helped. Plant some seeds for how I think about building and leading and growing and scaling a company and then after about 5 years I had some friends who went to go to a startup and I was entranced by this idea of going and creating our own Microsoft so I went to go lead product management for a company that was building the first linux.
Dan Shapiro: Based cell phone. So imagine the Android business plan except before the Android business plan was a good idea in 2002 we forked red hat linux built our own apps and diaerss and everything from scratch and created this bizarre banana-shaped phone for teenagers in the pre-smartphone era that used. Android or used lin linux is the underlying operating system and reinvented everything that it meant to have a phone company did okay it sold for $50000000 it raised about $50000000 so that was the thing but I had so been bitten by that experience of building companies and the rest of my career I moved in and out. I you know took ah took ah after that company um wrapped up I took ah a job at real networks to pay the bills where I got to run the games team and you know I would building games was always a dream of mine. So I was excited to get to do that for a while. But then I had to go back and start my own company sold. You know, sold the company to Google worked at Google for a while. They both have their benefits and it is. It is fun and challenging to be at a big company. You learn all sorts of interesting things. But there’s also a lot you learn that you have to unlearn when you go into the startup world because the challenges are very different. The opportunities are different and the way that you think about them is so profoundly. Change one of the things I was talking about in my book is at a big company. You think about roi that is if I put in a dollar can I get a dollar fifty back. Can I get a dollar 25 can I get a dollar 75 and just start up what you think about is I have $1 where do I put it.
Dan Shapiro: Resources are hard limited and it doesn’t matter how big the opportunity is because you can only you’re dominated not by cost but by opportunity cost and so the thing you can afford to do is 1 thing and you must pick it wisely and it’s such a different approach It’s such a different challenge to say. Like this degree of focus is required that you know in companies with more resources. It isn’t you have to do 1 thing and make it work instead of trying lots of things and and and you know sort of pushing them all forward because they all might deliver something.
Alejandro Cremades: So then in your case you know when when you were you know experiencing? Let’s say Microsoft and like you said pitching to bill and Steve and then from there you move into wildsed. You know, helping a friend and then also into video games at what point you know. That’s Ontella which became your first day company. You know, come knocking. You know they opportunity the end and why did you fail like it was time you know to do something of your own.
Dan Shapiro: I was ah working a day job at real networks and it was an interesting job and everybody there was putting in. Let’s say 45 hour work workweek. There were not people who are you know going around the clock but that’s kind of how I I wired in particularly. Those young and youthful days because we’re now talking about oh gosh Fifteen almost twenty years ago ah and so I’d put in a 45 hour work week and then I’d come around and spend another twenty plus hours going and coming up with what I was going to do and what I wanted to do next I found an old friend who was excited about startups as well. Brainstormed ideas and we had this notion of cloud services for what were then called camera phones because in the pre-smartphone era you had you know your Motorola razor could take a picture but it was trapped inside the camera. Some of you may remember some of the gray hairs among us may or remember like you couldn’t trade in your phone because you’d lose lose all your pictures or they’d have to like table it up to get it over to the new one. So cloud services that could wirelessly sync with phones who are brand new. We basically invented the category patented some of the earliest pieces in there and created this notion. Your phone was connected to the cloud in two pcs and ah raised a bunch of money over 40000000 in total had partnership with major carriers and rolled this out a lot of disruption when iphone came out as you might imagine but right around that time found.
Dan Shapiro: A deal with our largest partner a company called Photobuet that was our wholly own subsidiary of Fox interactive and found a deal to go put the companies together. Um and have shared resources to go after mobile and cloud imaging at the same time which was the time when I found a way to step out of my full-time role as Ceo. Move into an advisor and board member and go move on to what I was excited about next.
Alejandro Cremades: So what was that the next thing Spark by tell us about it. You know how? how did this come about.
Dan Shapiro: So ah I had so many ideas I wanted to pursue I narrowed it down to four good ideas in 1 dumb one and ah and I was thinking about these and I decided I was going to fly down to the bay area I’m ah I’m up in Seattle fly down to the Bay Area meet with a host of vcs that I knew and just bounce ideas off of them. Um, on the way down I got bumped into first class and I have a rule I hate talking to people on an airplane. But if I get bumped into first class or if I’m flying to the bay area I just force myself to say hello and this was both. Force myself say hello to the guy next to me and said what do you you know what are you doing and I explained I was working on new ideas and he said he worked for Google and he was curious and so I I explained briefly the 4 ah the 4 ideas and he was like that’s kind of interesting and I was like I have this one dumb one. He said what’s that and I told him the dumb one and he said. Oh my gosh if you do that call me because that’s amazing I was like took his card last I thought about him ah went down talked to all these investors and they all kind of had the same reaction which was kind of like the dumb one the dumb one was I needed to buy a new laptop. And I was buying a windows laptop because I was still on the Microsoft Train back then hadn’t hadn’t cleared it for my system and there are all these different laptops and there was no data feed no structured data of what was in them same problem existed for Tvs and lots of other consumer electronics.
Dan Shapiro: So the idea was I’d sort of hacked together a thing where I I paid a bunch of folks in emerging markets to go clean up these dirty marketing data feeds from all these companies put it into a database and then had a beautiful ui on top of it that lets you say I want a fast laptop with Bluetooth that weighs less than £5 and it could go figure out exactly what met both a qualitative like fast and quantitative like less than £5 meant and give you a list of the outputs this is around the time a friend of mine is founding co-founding wire cutter. So like how do you go by and find things was a big piece of this so after like basically everybody telling me my dumb idea was the good one. Built this company around it about building the data feed building the beautiful front end and then we launched on techrunch and within an hour of the launch that same guy from the airplane said we need to get together and have coffee I saw you just launch that thing I’d totally forgotten about him. He was the guy who wound up orchestrating the purchase of the company by Google six months almost the day after the company was founded.
Alejandro Cremades: Wow. And obviously you you talk about this in detail in your book just so that the people that that are listening. You know, get it What? what? What is the title of your book.
Dan Shapiro: It’s hot seat. The startup Ceo guy book by Dan Shapiro and 1 of the reasons I wanted to write it was because I wanted to talk about what really happens during m and a I’ve had so many people tell me so many parts of the startup experience but like the real experience of m and a. Kind of shrouded in mystery and and ndas and by writing a book I could write it all down and I could get Google to sign off on it and say yes, it’s okay for you to publish this. So I knew I could publish it without risking that I was sharing something that you know they would be upset about to to come back. And it’s really a unique world and it’s a tricky world because in m and a you’re often a founder who’s doing it for the first time ever negotiating with somebody who’s done it a million times before and unlike you know raising a financing around which has the same dynamic people haven’t written about it like. I learned how financing rounds work by reading um ah startup. What’s it called? Um venture deals written by bradfel when it was first published in like 2003 2004 Twenty years later brad’s on my board. So. You know the world is long and I actually got to negotiate against him using his own advice but that book didn’t exist for startups and really still doesn’t when it comes to m and a and what that’s like when you are you are negotiating for your life in the life of your company.
Alejandro Cremades: So then so then what happens really in in the m and a you know ah process I mean give us what you know perhaps like an insider scoop and obviously on what you’re allowed to say. What went down you know during that moment where you receive the contact you know from this person that you had met you know and the airplane from from Google to the moment that the deal is closed. So.
Dan Shapiro: He ah, he called me up said let’s have coffee and I ah said sure no problem and while I was going to the Google headquarters in in Seattle nearby to go have coffee with him I scheduled coffee with a friend of mine whose company had been acquired by Google and Jonathan Spado and I said hey Jonathan you know how’s going ke up. He’s like great What do you hear for and I was like oh I’m meeting with Matt Klaner and he said oh I don’t mean to get you like you know all in a in a not but coffee with Matt Klaner was how the acquisition of my last startup started and up until that point I did not know really what he did or what that was about I was like oh okay, interesting. And Matt was really intrigued by what we were doing and asked a bunch of questions and then said I’d really like to have you talk to Scott Silver and I said oh my gosh I interviewed scott silver to be Vp of engineering my startup three years ago loved him to bits. He took the job at Google instead we kept in touch I would love to talk to Scott Silver it’s been way too long. Because you never know when these relationships wind up coming around and so I told Scott what we were working on we brainstorm together and then we wound up actually saying okay, they said we want to go make a bid and I said look here’s the thing and this was one of the one of the things that I I got his advice and I hardly recommend which is I said. For you. This is one of 1000000 things 1 of ah, a hundred things you’re going to be doing and 1 of 1000000 things Google is going to be doing I don’t I don’t have that kind of bandwidth if I’m talking to you I’m not talking to customers I’m not talking to partners I’m not talking to investors I cannot afford to have a fun exploratory conversation.
Dan Shapiro: Or at least not much of one and I can’t afford for you to make me a nonsense deal that I look and say no, you’re you know this is insulting. Let me get back to work I just can’t go through that whole process. So I need to if we’re going to explore this I need to go into it with you knowing what? my bottom line is from the start. And knowing that you’re not going to insult me or waste my time by coming in lower and we need to mutually agree on how much of my and my team’s time you’re going to spend and and what that looks like so you have to lay out a roadmap for me of what it looks like to get to a decision and if we fall off that roadmap then we agree that as soon as we fall off that roadmap as soon as you say I can’t do it with this I need another. You know 10 hours of meeting or whatever that we’re going to part his friends so we’re going to figure out what it takes be conservative put more time in there than do you need because if we wind up needing more time I’m just going to say let’s part his friends and pick this up later because I don’t have time it’ll it’ll derail my company and our chances to have this conversation and that was really helpful because. Any times Google came back at some part and was like we just need to do this extra thing and I was like okay then we’ll part as friends and then we went back to the deal owner and they’re like no no, no, we said we weren’t going to do that and then we came back and turned out. We didn’t have to do that thing and so on and so that included things like postponing interviewing my team members to the very end because we knew that that wasn’t going to. Um, that was ah that was I needed a number before we did that so that they weren’t wasting time I knew that that was going to distract them and I mean there were moments when I had to graciously talk about walking they are probably the most egregious and painful of those was ah when.
Dan Shapiro: We’d previously said the range is between x and y and I said okay, then you can talk to my team and we went and had my team do interviews and then we came out and the deal owner none of the 2 people I mentioned but the person in m and a said great news. We got approval from Larry we can offer you. Ah, number that was below the bottom threshold I said I I’m so sorry about the miscommunication here I thought we were clear. But I think we’re done and my counterpart said yep I Larry told me I had to make that offer I’m sorry now let’s talk about. Let’s talk about the offer that you can that maybe you can accept I’ll tell you my heart just dropped like when I heard note we’re coming in and lowballing you anyway. I would like every feeling betrayal anger guilt sadness. What did I do wrong and everything and then it was like nope. We just we had to make the low ball off for now we can start to the real negotiation I just I didn’t even know where to start, but but we took that deal through to the end and wound up with something that would really work for me that would really work for the investors and most importantly would really work for the team and I think the reason that happened was because 1 thing I told them at the very start that helped guide the negotiation from the very beginning and I’ll tell you what that is when I grab a glass of water if that’s okay because I’m this is one of those mornings I I at it I’ll be right back.
Alejandro Cremades: A grant. Okay yeah.
Alejandro Cremades: Well for him go for it.
Dan Shapiro: All right? We good show jump right back in where I left off ah at the start I said look I have a fiduciary obligation to the company and I have an obligation that people work for me. So. There’s an order of operations that I need to follow and I recommend this to everybody who’s engaging in an m and a discussion first we determine how much the company is worth second we figure out the package for everybody at the company except me last we figure out my package. I won’t discuss any of those things out of order and we started out there. Okay sure great, no problem but 1 of the conversations that happened was would have been very difficult if I didn’t have that framework the conversation was they right? after we we talked about the price they said. You know here’s the price for the company and I said I need it to be here I’ve got you need to get up to here in order for that to work and they said look Dan something for you to consider. We have a total budget for the deal and if we put more budget into the company acquisition. That’s going to be less for you and I said I’m going to remind you I’m not going to talk about what I get that’s not on my list of things to concern until I have done my fiduciary obligation for my shareholders maximize the value of the company. So this is the number we have to do.
Dan Shapiro: Said Okay I mean like that means we’re going to have less in the package then when it came time for the ah for my team Members. We started talking about vesting and they were only partially vested and I said they need to be fully accelerated and have 100% of their ownership at exit and they said we can’t do That. Doesn’t work in the package and I said well time to be creative a single. You’re fully vested what if we unveested you. So I wound up unveesting some of my ownership and having to earn it back over time so that they could be fully vested at the transaction. But for my perspective that’s. That’s what you do is an ethical leader of the company you figure out the value of the company. Get the right package for the team I did all right to negotiating for myself.
Alejandro Cremades: Good stuff. Well hey that level of detail a on the insight. Thank you so much for that done I guess 1 thing you know that they comes to mind is what do you think? allowed you to be completely unattached to the outcome of the deal to be in a mindset where you could you know, just be in a position of walking away at any moment. Because I think that that gave you leverage for.
Dan Shapiro: I was not. It would have given me a lot of leverage if I was able to do that. But you cannot help and I thankfully I knew this going in. You cannot help but get sucked in I’ve a lot of friends. Now who I know who are in m and a and who’ve been a part of m and a on both sides and here’s the playbook that most people won’t say out loud. The Playbook is you have a reluctant founder Ceo. Whatever it is you tell them that the company is worth an enormous amount of money. They’re going to have complete autonomy that their budgets are going to get so much bigger and they’re going to do everything they’ve ever dreamed of and then they say okay all right I guess we’ll talk that sounds pretty good and then you have a long drawn out process and every step along the process they get more and more invested in the sunk cost of having spent time with you. And in every moment along the process you lower their expectations a little and a little and a little until at the end of the process their companies low on cash because they haven’t been paying attention mining the bank they have been pursuing other approaches. They’re completely obsessed with the payout. And what’s going to happen at the end and they can only imagine themselves doing that they can’t imagine going back and running the company’s independent and you’ve dragged the price way down from where it was before now time is on your side because every moment that you wait the companies in Jeopardy. The the leadership team is desperate to make the deal go through else. They look stupid and.
Dan Shapiro: All the leverages in the company side. So I tied my own hands I said here’s the amount of time we’re going to invest. no more here’s the walkaway price and no more and for me, it was easier to hold to those numbers and have those be sincere which they were. Than it was to just play it as you go There’s a research study and the child of 2 professors you can imagine I do love my research studies where there were 2 negotiations in the first negotiation people talked about their bottom line. Worst case, walk away number and in the second one they didn’t. And talking about your bottom line walk away number made you much more likely to get it. But it also made you much less likely to do worse. So there is a risk and a benefit to doing that by anchoring yourself to a number you can. Prevent catastrophe where you drop below that number but you also lose some upside and some ability to go beyond it and it’s one of those tradeoffs going in. Are you trying to make it as big as possible recognizing that you may fall far from Grace or are you going for an outcome set that outcome in advance you’re driving for that outcome and if it isn’t you walk away. So no I got totally emotionally invested along and I knew enough about myself to know that was going to happen to have the backup plan to have the board keeping me honest and saying like we are.
Dan Shapiro: Evaluating you by whether you make the company successful not by whether you sell the company even though we’re supportive of selling it. That’s the right outcome and and kept that balance forced on myself because I am not strong enough to do what you just described I am only. Counseled Well enough to know that it’s a risk and you know what was the story of the sirens. What did you do did he resist the call the sirens no he had himself lashed to the Mast that was that was what I attempted to do.
Alejandro Cremades: Wow humbley. Oh then thank you so much for sharing this now in your case you know after the transaction was done as you said you know you went into Google you did the vesting as and resting as some people will call it. You know, probably there was no resting but you know also what you did is. Right? after this, you started robot turtles which was a solo ah founder. You know, ah person operation. So what were you guys doing there and it was a very interesting licensing deal that you guys you know, ended up doing so so tell us about this what happened there? okay.
Dan Shapiro: Yeah robot turtles was just a oneperson adventure I had been um, helping a friend pitch a tv show and the tv show was a cross between um shark tank and kickstarter. What’s the idea. And so I said oh gosh it’s research for this I’m going to I’m going to go launch a kickstarter I think that’d be fun at the same time I’d been playing around with this board game with my kids. My twins were then four now enter in high school at 14 but at the time they are 4 years old and it was this. Board game that teaches programming principles like the very basics to kids before they even know how to read we had so much fun with it and I thought it would be great to deliver this to the world. So I decided to be an amateur board game designer and put this together put it on kickstarter totally blew up. It was one of the earliest stem board games. Um, for for young audiences. In fact, probably the first and for this preschool age and wound up selling. It was most backed board game and kickstarter history at the time. So I ah decided I was going to lean all in I done this while I was on a short leave of absence from Google and i. You know, decided to make it my full-time gig so I left Google and spent a year as a 1 ne-person board game company had a couple of contractors designers. Um, weirdly ah my best friend from junior high school had been promoted through the ranks at Pixar and wound up. Ah co-directing several of the recent Pixar movies.
Dan Shapiro: Ran into him at a high school reunion and he like said oh wait, let me help you with the eyes and like did a quick redesign of some of the characters. So I got some really great help along the way. Um, and ah another friend of mine Alan Lee who’s a founder of exploding kittens but wasn’t at the time now one of the largest board game companies in the world. Back then just ah, an amazing digital game. Designer had helped me a little bit with that. So I got some great help but at the end of the day I was making boxes of cardboard and shipping them all around the country and it was amazing and it was fun and as part of that experience I wound up to prototype these with an industrial carbon dioxide cutting laser. Imported directly from a factory in China installed in my garage which was totally madcap my very patient wife helped me crowbar the wooden crate open and get this thing installed and it was. Arable. It took me weeks to get it working and figure out the software and the hardware and get it aligned and service it all the time but there was this magic moment when I would push a button and something beautiful would come out the other side I mentioned before that. When I was between jobs I went and pitched a bunch of ideas to a bunch of different people and at this point I was still working on finishing up robot turtles but I started inviting a cavalcade of entrepreneurs and investors through my garage to go make stuff for them. So I was basically engraving logos and making corporate Schwag on this laser because I just thought it was so neat and 1 of them a friend of mine Rick Hennessy
Dan Shapiro: Um, engraved the logo for his new company on his laptop and he said oh you should meet my the founder of my first company. He hired me a guy named Mark Goslin he loves hardware so we had lunch and Mark’s a very quiet person and so Rick introduced us I admit him once before years ago. Ah, reintroduced us and Mark said you should tell him about your idea so I was like laser technology is amazing. Do you know about it and he’s like yes I do and I said great. It could be a desktop tool that’s available to anyone and empower anyone to create anything and it was more eloquent than that.
Dan Shapiro: And Mark sat quietly for a long time and he looked at Rick and said Rick it’s been a year since we sold the company. He just had one hundred ten million dollars exit I didn’t tell you what I’ve been working on since then and Rick’s like no mark your mystery shrouded and enigma I don’t know what you’ve been working on so and I was like. All by what have you been working on since then he’s like well I built a combination cnc milling machine plasma torch three d printer and laser cutter in my garage and I said built like from a kit and he said no then another long silence and he said yeah we could build a desktop laser and. That would be pretty incredible. That’s how bullet forch was born.
Alejandro Cremades: Wow. So then so then for the people that are listening. You know to get it. What ended up being the business model of Globe Forge How how are you guys making money.
Dan Shapiro: So we launched with the most. Ah ah the the biggest crowdfunding campaign 30 day crowdfunding campaign for anything ever sold over $27000000 worth of lasers in a month and that was the the. Early version of the glove forge product that you see behind me. This is the glove forge pro. It is a desktop laser that lets you create truly. Beautiful things really quickly at the push of a button so you can describe to the ai the idea of a keychain and it will go and produce the keychain that you designed with you know in about 2 minutes with a click. You can find a ah. Um, an image from the library of congress and drop it on a piece of leather and create a mouse pad this is an old map from the city of seattle that I use for my mousepad you can even take a design from our catalog and in about 13 minutes print all the pieces to create a beautiful other wallt that looks like something you’d.
Alejandro Cremades: Wow.
Dan Shapiro: Buy the store or have custom made for you on Etsy and it’s incredibly simple and incredibly fast. More recently. We’ve taken all this shrunk the size and shrunk the price with a launch just last month of the glow forge aura a beautiful. Small portable version that starts at $1200 is just as easy to use can still choose from millions of designs and ah images and fonts and so on and easy to use but now sold at michael’s and joanne k craft stores around the world. Amazon and directly from us at a new and even more affordable price point slower and smaller. But ah way more accessible to the average crafter at home.
Alejandro Cremades: What’s amazing now you guys have raised quite a bit of money for this. How much capital have you guys raised today for glow fort. So.
Dan Shapiro: Of our $100000000 I don’t think we’ve updated the running total recently. But it’s been an incredible experience where I’ve gotten to work with some really fantastic investors true ventures who’s had enormous success in hardware over the years Revolution out of Dc dfj growth who our board member Barry was bought a glow forg in 2018. It’s been printing since and I finally got him into the company last year and our first and foundational investor founder group where Brad Feld whose book I read in 2004 who I idolized and who incidentally I pitched. Every single one of my companies ah came on as our first outside board member and is one of my great mentors somebody I talked to at least once a week and sometimes once a day.
Alejandro Cremades: That’s incredible. That’s incredible now. Obviously you know like to all those investors for raising this money. You know there’s a vision that you share with him. So I guess in that regard if you were to go to sleep tonight then and you wake up in a world where the vision of globe fors is fully realized what does that world look like.
Dan Shapiro: Yeah, sometimes say I I have to put on my crazy founder hat and when I do I say I tell folks about this walk that Mark and I went on in the fall of twenty fourteen before we decided to found the company. And remember which one of us said I don’t really want to build another black and decker not really interested in building a tool company for people who use tools Mark and I our lives have been defined by the gift of creation. The ability to make things for both of us. And that is a superpower that has enabled so many of the great things that happen to us. But when we think about it that shouldn’t be something unusual that shouldn’t be something special. We are homo sapiens we are the tool users we are defined. By our ability to create things and it is only a quirk of technology in the past few hundred years that that changed a few hundred years ago if you wanted something you made it yourself or in your community and it is technology that said, no no, no, you’re not. That anymore. Things are now made halfway around the world and put on container ships and driven in trucks to distribution centers and and and delivered to your door to your Target store. What have you and that is odd in the scope of human experience because we are built to build and glow forge.
Dan Shapiro: Is about granting everybody the ability to create things. It is about the realization that with technology it can be faster cheaper and better to build things where they’re needed when they’re needed and for the purpose that they’re needed. That’s what I’m excited about empowering each and every one of us with the ability to create the things we want the things we need and the things that we imagine for the world around us. That’s why Ultimately, unlike the last companies which were great businesses that I sold or licensed or. Wrapped up when their time had come This feels like my life’s work.
Alejandro Cremades: I love that now we’re talking about the future here I want to talk about the past but doing it from a lens of reflection then if let’s say I was to put you into a time machine and I bring you back to you know, perhaps that moment where you’re still you know like working in video games and. Kind of like thinking about what you may do you know on your own if you were to branch off as an entrepreneur entrepreneur as a founder if you were to have the opportunity of going back in time and being able to whisper to that younger than 1 piece of advice for launching the business. What would that be and why. You and why you know now.
Dan Shapiro: Um, ah, um, when I started on tella I pitched everything that moved I’d I’d heard all about fundraising spent nine months trying to raise money for this company full time. Nothing else quit my job at the end of the eighth month I was nowhere better than when I started except everybody I know I’d already pitched. It wasn’t until the last pitch of the last possibility of the last place I could go that I got the first check. Triggered the investment around I swore to myself that when I cracked the nut when I figured it out I would write it down and I would share it with the world I would not gate keep I would put that out there and damn it. But I don’t know what it is because when that happened it was. I was randomly at a party in Barcelona at a wireless conference and ran into this guy who I’d been trying to get a meeting with who’d been ignoring me and pretended I didn’t know who he was and struck up a conversation and he said oh what a coincidence we’re both in Seattle we should get together and like that was the thing that made it work it was it was just. Beating my head against the wall until there was a hole. So. What’s my advice for myself. It feels like it’s not working until it’s working. It is impossibly hard.
Alejandro Cremades: Wow.
Dan Shapiro: And there is nothing that can be done about that. Some people are lucky and it gets easy. The rest of us work and work and work until we find something that works and you have to love it. You have to love it enough for it to be worth it.
Alejandro Cremades: I Love that So then for the people that are listening I would love to reach out and say hi. What is the best way for them to do so.
Dan Shapiro: Dan Shapiro on the site formerly known as Twitter and ah and send me a note there and I’m Dan Shapiro at glowforge.com ah so excited to get to talk about this stuff.
Alejandro Cremades: Amazing. Well hey Dan thank you so much for being on the deal maker show today. It has been an honor to have you with us today.
Dan Shapiro: Thank you Alejandro it has been an honor I appreciate it.
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