, (’10), and Coby Kabili
, (’12), on the Forbes 30 Under 30
In his senior year at SDSU, Kabili was in need of access to a 3D printer for his mechanical engineering design class, but the wait list for SDSU’s 3D printer was weeks long. Kabili took matters into his own hands and decided to build a 3D printer himself. On his dining room table, he and a classmate created a prototype and used it to print a prosthetic limb. In the time it would have taken to move up the wait list, Kabili was printing and reprinting to perfect the design.
“The minute we finished the first prototype we knew we had built something cool, unique and special,” said Kabili.
Kabili reached out to Moreno, a friend of his at SDSU who had completed his degree in marketing and entrepreneurship, and together Robo3D
The pair spent four to five months and $1,500 improving their product before launching their first Kickstarter campaign that raised $649,000 in a 45-day campaign selling pre-orders of the product.
“We were literally on a dining room table launching a product without huge expectations at the time and it just took off,” said Moreno. “It was such an amazing, eye-opening experience to see a product that you put so much hard work into, be so widely accepted by consumers and tech enthusiasts.”
Today, Robo3D’s retail 3D printers have been shipped to more than 4,500 cities across 98 countries. Their two latest models were debuted earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Their new Robo R2 model, a 3D printer with Wi-Fi that is powered by the Robo mobile app, captured the Best of Innovation Award.
The pair said their experiences at SDSU played an important role in their success.
“SDSU has an amazing entrepreneur program and entrepreneur society, and I had the honor to participate in this group throughout the latter half of college,” said Moreno. “I was able to meet some amazing mentors, attend business plan competitions, and be exposed to new ideas and opportunities.”
It was through SDSU’s Lavin Entrepreneurship Center
and the mentorship of director Bernhard Schroeder
that Moreno said helped him start two companies before Robo 3D.
SDSU was recently honored by the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship as the 2017 national model entrepreneurship program
. The university also now has more than a dozen 3D printers available to students, including a Robo3D model.
Today, Moreno gives back to the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center by speaking to classes and serving as a mentor for aspiring entrepreneurs, giving advice and inspiration.
“Bottom line, being an entrepreneur is not easy,” said Moreno. “If you don’t believe strongly about what you are doing and enjoy it every day, you will not make it through the tough times. With that being said, embrace every part of the journey. My first business failed miserably, but I took lessons from it on to my next company and I will take even more lessons from this business onto future endeavors.”
Similarly, Kabili advises students not to be afraid to fail.
“Do not try and make something perfect before you launch it,” said Kabili. “I have seen too many people with awesome ideas spend way too much time and money on their project trying to make it perfect. The majority of the time, they launch and realize that the end user doesn’t even use the part of the product that cost so much time, effort and money.”
For these two SDSU alumni, the risk is the reward.
“I think what is most exciting is seeing how our product is changing the lives of so many of our users,” said Moreno. “It has created opportunities for people that they never would have had otherwise and the power of that will live on far beyond the life of the company. Every day I am able to see people using the product in a multitude of unique and powerful ways, and it motivates me to keep building great products and pushing through all the tough times.”
Aztec Made:Bold Brew Coffee
What started as being a resourceful student trying to finish a school project has landed San Diego State University alumni