Makers Empire

Startup Profile: Makers Empire

Jobs in the creative industry play an increasingly important role for the economy of many countries. The OECD just recently published an interesting report on the growing connection of tourism and the creative industry in countries like South Korea, China, Italy, Japan, the United States and New Zealand.

Besides classic creative jobs in photography and design, so called maker shops are getting more attention in tech hubs across the globe. Besides working on projects that are powered by Arduino chipsets, 3D printing is a massive driver for the growing popularity of the maker movement. It is already successfully used in medicine, fashion, construction or even space travel. Makers Empire from Australia wants to prepare today’s students for their future jobs that might very well involve 3D printing through its 3D design and printing app.

Introduce your startup and give a short description of what you are doing.

Makers Empire makes the world’s easiest to use 3D design and printing app. It is designed so students as young as 5 can get started in 3D design and printing.

We bundle our software with a Learning Program that is designed for teachers and educators. It includes:

  • Volume licensed software (iPad/Android)
  • Lesson and unit plans
  • Professional development
  • Web portal
  • Support

We believe that in the near future 3D printing skills will be seen as essential for every student graduating school ready for work or further study.

Who are the founders, how did you meet, what are your different roles in the startup.

There are 4 founders of Makers Empire: Jon Soong, Roland Peddie, Anthony Chhoy and Lap Leung.

Lap and Jon met in primary school a long time ago!
Roland met Lap and Jon at Adelaide University where they were all studying engineering/computer science.
Anthony came on board as Makers Empire formed.

Jon Soong: CEO
Roland Peddie: CTO
Lap Leung: Director of Sales
Anthony Chhoy: COO/CFO

What is the main problem in education that you aim to solve.

The NMC Horizon Report recently stated that 3D printing will dominate STEM learning in the next few years.

It engages and excites students whilst introducing them to skills they will need to compete in tomorrow’s job market.

Traditionally 3D design software has been used by engineers and architects – CAD software that is very precise and difficult to use. Software companies have tried to introduce these to schools and have found success with students about 13 years and up. Below this the software is too difficult to use for most students.

Makers Empire software is purposely designed for touch devices (iPad/Android) and allows students as young as 5 to design and print in 3D.

Allowing younger students to participate in this technology gives them an advantage – they can start with this fantastic technology sooner.

It also gives the less technically inclined students an introduction to 3D design and printing – an experience they might otherwise miss out on. Not every student will become a scientist, engineer or architect but it is still important for them to understand this technology.

In which markets / regions are you active. What markets / regions are next.

We launched in Australia in August 2014. We have a number of schools who have bought our Learning Program in Australia.

We launch with a 3D printer distributor and IT services partner in Hong Kong in September 2014.

We have agreements with distributors in Spain and Indonesia and are currently localizing our software for these countries. About half a dozen more territories are currently being negotiated.

We have had interest from some UK schools and our Learning Program is now aligned against England’s National Curriculum – we will be making a push into the UK in early 2015.

Our software is currently being trialed in New York by Stan Silverman in their mobile “STEAM” van for the schools in New York state.

Who is your target audience.

Primary/elementary schools.

School students aged 5-13.

How do you engage with your target audience. How do you convert them into users of your product.

We are currently talking to schools, clusters of schools and government departments to get them using the Makers Empire Learning Program.

We have attended a number of conferences and have a number on the calendar for the rest of the year.

This is something that we are currently experimenting with – to find the best way to market and sell our program.

What is your business model. How much does your product / service cost.

Our business model is selling our Makers Empire Learning Program to schools.

The Learning Program comprises:

  • Volume licensed software for iPad/Android
  • Lesson and unit plans
  • Professional development
  • Web portal for teachers
  • Support

Our pricing is: $999 AUD/USD per 100 students each year.

All licensed schools have access to all current and new software.

If you raised funding, how much did you raise. Who are your investors. If not, are you planning to raise funding.

We have raised:

  • $75,000 from Colin Kuchel – a local (Adelaide, Australia) angel investor
  • $25,000 from Andrey Shirben – a Sydney/Israel angel investor who plans on getting quite involved with the B2C marketing

We are planning on raising more money in the near future.

Are there milestones you are especially proud of and would like to share.

We have built the worlds easiest to use 3D design and printing software!

What are the next steps in growing your startup.

  1. Sales and marketing – figuring out how to get the Makers Empire Learning Program into as many schools as possible
  2. Innovation – continue innovating around our Learning Program and software

Anything else you would like to add.

Look out for our new “Ollie Customizer” app for the new Ollie robot toy. Customize your Ollie robot by designing and 3D printing mods.

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Kirsten Winkler is the founder and editor of EDUKWEST. She also writes about Social Media, Digital Society and Startups at