Elihuu, a site that matches designers and manufacturers, is expanding this year as many tech companies move from being purely digital to being more product-oriented.
After its June 2013 launch, Elihuu joined TechStars Boulder in August and was advised here by the president of 3D printing company Makerbot. The company now is relocating to Oakland to cater to San Francisco, a burgeoning manufacturing community. The team is also seeking to add on two more members and expand its operations, CEO Dorian Ferlauto said.
Prior to its big move, Elihuu was backed last month with $30,000 in venture funding from University of Colorado-Boulder Deming Center Venture Fund to facilitate an uptick in operations.
Because Ferlauto said “design and manufacturing is hopping up along the coast,” Elihuu is hiking up its New York operations and forming partnerships in Chicago and Detroit communities. The team is also announcing a partnership with the Urban Manufacturing Association this January.
These nationwide expansions show the progress that Elihuu has made just in 2013 - when Ferlauto, who has a manufacturing background, teamed up with co-founder Alex Henry, who has UX design experience, to match up manufacturers and designers.
“We started because there were so many people saying, ‘I don't know how to find the right people based on the right capability and the right needs,’” Ferlauto said. “There is a marketplace of people making things and people designing things, but these people aren't communicating.”
The team feeds the maker movement fueled by services like Kickstarter and Etsy. Elihuu is “sort of like a dating site,” she said. “There was a big void in consumer demand in actually getting products made at scale and delivered in time.”
For designers, the company creates an outlet for both prototyping and mass production of creative ideas. It helps bring to life innovative ideas. Elihuu can match people to 3D printing capabilities to build products such as new beer bottle openers or jewelry designs. It also helps designers configure needs to build a product such as materials to use and the proper costs.
One example of success includes a San Francisco bike designer who looked for a year and a half to find a manufacturer, before turning to Elihuu; the company found him a manufacturer based in Vermont within in five days of account creation.
For manufacturers, it helps solve the problem of operating below peak efficiency. It also helps manufacturers without a ton of marketing or tech-capability reach a far greater audience.
Ferlauto said Elihuu’s future will encompass a greater density of designers and makers. It will connect a larger number of people including engineers, industrial designers, research and development, and digital design specialists to get assets ready for production.
Sonali Basak contributed writing to this story.