MADE TO ORDER
Just Press Print Bespoke Innovations uses 3-D printers to create covers for prosthetic limbs.
SAFE AND SOUND
IN THE CLOUD
n E-commerce is
nothing new. What is
new is what shoppers
are looking for: deals
on an ever-widening
spectrum of niche
items, whether they
eyeglasses, or vintage
furniture. Look to
such as fashion
and photo printing.
DREAM IT, THEN PRINT IT
3-D PRINTING 7
n Virtual data rooms
let you store and access
lots of documents in the
cloud: Think souped-up
versions of Dropbox.
Your customers will do
in which huge amounts
of information change
hands (think financial
deals and lawsuits).
Those transactions are
sensitive and complicated, so virtual data
rooms let users determine who is allowed to
see what, and many provide tracking services.
YES, IT’S STILL GROWING...
Sample sale site revenue
grew almost 50 percent from
2007 to 2012 and is projected
to increase 12 percent a year
through 2017. Online greeting
card revenue is projected
to grow 6 percent a year
...BU T FORGET SHOES There are
1,166 online shoe sellers; two
of them own a 16 percent share.
Find a less crowded niche.
ESTABLISHED RETAILERS ARE
BU YING Think Thrillist’s acquisition of trendy men’s fashion
site Jack Threads.com and
Shutterfly’s purchase of stationery company Tiny Prints.
IDEAL PRIOR JOB? Techie
with an eye for flair and
care. Remember Zappos’s
365-day return policy:
Successful e-tailers provide
great customer service.
n Imagine you hit a button on your
printer, and out emerges a prototype
of a prosthetic leg or a component for
a space shuttle. The moment has
arrived, and it means big things for
3-D printing companies. f Design
your products for aerospace and the
medical sector: Those will drive the
most growth. “Companies are
going after markets where the
volumes are relatively low and the
value and complexity of products
are high,” says Terry Wohlers,
president of Wohlers Associates,
a consulting firm.
THE MARKET COULD REACH $3 BILLION That’s Global
Industry Analysts’s worldwide projection for 2018.
YOU’LL NEED CAPITAL How much depends on your
ambition: $20,000 to $600,000 for a commercial printer,
if you want to make aerospace parts or prosthetics.
A $500 version will do for toys or necklaces.
THERE ARE BIG INCUMBENTS Stratasys controlled 56
percent of the market in 2012. Venture capital–backed
Shapeways is the leader in on-demand printing.
IDEAL PRIOR JOB? Professor of mechanical engineering
B UZ Z W OR D Makers: the industry’s community of
DIY-ers and hobbyists
VDRs CLOCKED $600 MILLION in
2012. That’s expected to balloon
to $1.2 trillion by 2017, according
to researcher IBISWorld.
THERE IS BIG- TICKET POTENTIAL...
Companies doing a one-time
transaction like an acquisition
or bankruptcy won’t offer
much repeat business. But the
going rate is about 85 cents a
page. That’s big money for
transactions that require thousands of pages of documents.
...BUT THE BIG DOGS KNOW IT
Watch out for Merrill and RR
Donnelley. Some law firms
have proprietary services.
PRIVATE EQUITY AND VC FIRMS ARE
IN TER ES TED They also happen
to be big users of VDRs. Other
potential investors: software
and Web hosting companies.
You’ll find expanded
coverage of the best industries
for starting a business at