"The rules aren't written yet in this industry- it's awesome!" -Brian Harris, GreenRush Talent Network
March 9, 2020
"Help who you can, where you can, when you can." -Lindsey Holthaus, Plain Jane
March 9, 2020

How to Develop Grit with Blade Taylor, 3DXtremes

Blade Taylor, a 22-year-old entrepreneur in Virginia, has helped hundreds of inventors and companies develop and test new product concepts with his company 3DXtremes. With the help of his partner Bryce Cahoon and the 3DXtremes team, Blade has been able to build an extremely efficient and systematic process for helping creators turn their napkin-sketch concepts into real products that are ready to go to market. Blade has focused on ensuring that 3DXtremes remains a one-stop-shop for inventors and organizations that have a new product concept in mind and are looking for help in developing and testing their idea. His focus on using new technology to drive their digital and physical product development process has resulted in their customers saving more time and money. Blade’s entrepreneurial mindset has painted a large picture for what 3DXtremes can become over the next few years and the impact they can have in the market by helping individuals successfully bring their innovative product ideas to life. If you or someone you know has a new product idea and would like to learn more about how Blade and his team can help you bring that idea to life, feel free to visit the 3DXtremes website at www.3dxtremes.com.  
 
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I was introduced to the world of product development and prototyping when I was in high-school and I had an idea for a new product that I wanted to bring to life. While performing hours and hours of research on how to bring my product idea to life, I realized that there were, and still are, an overwhelming amount of complex steps involved with developing something new, especially when it was a physical product. 
I realized that I needed to find either a company or someone who could help me navigate those complex preliminary steps. During this time, I found that there were a lot of obvious issues with breaking into the product development industry, many of which revolved around trust, cost, and overall risk to anyone looking to invent or develop a product. 
When I started reaching out to the product development companies that I found online, I immediately realized why many inventors were “afraid” to attempt to build something new. A majority of the companies that I reached out to never returned my calls or emails. The ones that did respond said that they could not help me with both the designing and building of my product, without explanation to why, and of the few that expressed interest, they were unable to share an official price quote or pricing options. 
Due to the fact that the industry that I wanted to step into was not providing me with the support that I was hoping for, I decided to become involved with additive manufacturing, better known as 3D printing, when it was just coming to the consumer market.
This was my official first step in understanding the process and necessary steps required in prototyping a product, along with further understanding how to navigate the world of product development. 
After I discovered my original product idea was already patent protected and I came to the realization that there was little chance that I would have success with the product, I decided to pivot to a new direction and put what I had learned throughout the process of product development to task. I wanted to find a way to simplify the process and offer services to others who were also working on new product concepts. 
That was when 3DXtremes was born.
 
Can you share your story of Grit and Success? First can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
Starting my company was easy in some ways and seemingly impossible in others. For starters, being young when I began made me sometimes feel as if I would be laughed at or not taken seriously when doing business with those older than me (which was 99% of the time). Little did I know, being young in this industry ended up being a major advantage for me, because I looked at processes and products from a completely different point of view. My youth also allowed me to understand and implement emerging technology and automation into our process at 3DXtremes, which allows for us to have a higher margin on our offered services.
 
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
When things get rough, I try and take a step back and give myself a few moments to assess what I am going through and remember that almost every successful person has gone through hard times and questioned themselves, but it’s just part of the process. I try and wrap my head around the idea that failure is a stepping stool rather than a road block. Failing fast, and sometimes hard, in the short-run is actually a very helpful exercise, as it helps us understand where to better focus our efforts and to what degree. We operate in an industry that is all about attempting to build something new and because of this, we have the opportunity to learn from the “mistakes” of our peers and how those mistakes have led to new innovation.
 
So, how are things going today? How did Grit lead to your eventual success? 
Business today is going very well and we are continuing to grow every day. From acquiring a new and larger physical space to winning bigger contracts, our hard work is continuing to pay off. Without grit, tenacity and our willingness to view risk as a reward itself, we would not be where we are today and would never reach our true potential.
 
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
One of the funniest mistakes I made when starting out was thinking that I could do it all by myself. What you don’t realize at first, and what you MUST learn along the way, is that even if you are good at performing various tasks for your business in the beginning, your efforts later on are better focused when they themselves are dedicated to one specific area. Finding my business partner, or should I say him finding me, was without a doubt, the BEST thing that has happened to my company. Without Bryce, I most likely would have overcommitted myself and run out of steam throughout the development and eventual management of 3DXtremes. The ultimate lesson from that, for me at least, was that you need to not only have a strong product or service offering, but you need a strong and supportive team behind it in order to grow efficiently.
 
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
The thing that makes our company stand out, is the fact that we don’t try and keep the industry secrets, secret. In fact, we are trying to do the complete opposite! By exposing the secrets of the product development industry, educating the customers throughout the journey in going from a napkin-sketch concept to a real product, we have been able to create a relationship with our customers that is based on trust and respect. Those two points are key factors that are missing in our industry and they are the driving factors in every decision we have made and will continue to make going forward.
 
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I would suggest that my colleagues in the industry ask themselves what they can learn from working and being part of the development of a new product, rather than what monetary benefits will the product yield for them. The skills that you develop as you work on a new product idea will certainly carry over into your future ideas and projects, so learn everything you can while you work on something fun and unique.
 
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My partner Bryce Cahoon is the one that first comes to mind when I think about someone who has truly helped me grow 3DXtremes to where it is today. Bryce joined 3DXtremes when I was just a college kid with a brain full of ideas and a 3D printer. He has continued to stick out the bad moments with me and has become a great leader for the rest of our team at 3DXtremes. Bryce is amazing at staying levelheaded in all situations, which helps us stay on course even in the midst of a storm (which certainly happens from time-to-time).  
 
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?  
The quality and quantity of innovation is what can make or break a community in the long-run. I have focused heavily on doing my best to build a business that puts an emphasis on educating our market and industry all while building trust with our customers. My hope is that our customers can take what they have learned from working with us and provide the world with a new and innovative product that can increase the quality of life for many individuals. Our success at 3DXtremes is measured through our customers success, and therefore I must do all I can to optimize our process to minimize the risk of inventing for all individuals who have a product idea.  
 
Based on your experience, can you share 5 pieces of advice about how one can develop Grit? (Please share a story or example for each)
 

  1. Focus on developing solid time management skills. Running a business requires you to be good at time-management. Learning to say “no” to things can be difficult early on, especially if you don’t have a lot of grit yet. By setting a goal for yourself to become a great manager of your calendar, you will be forced to say “no” to the things you don’t want to waste your time with. In high school, I used to say “yesto every opportunity that came my way and it resulted in me becoming very overwhelmed at times. The stress of saying “yes” to every opportunity taught me a valuable lesson and helped me understand just how important no really was, which has helped me focus my time and energy more efficiently.
  2. Don’t raise capital or accept monetary handouts when starting your business. It’s certainly ok to accept help from people, but when starting your business, you should be focused on understanding your customers’ true needs rather than trying to scale dramatically or turn profit. Starting small forces you to stay connected with your customers and address their problems, which can keep you determined as you attempt to grow. Bootstrapping a startup is certainly a way to develop grit, as you will have to continuously fight through the moments when you are asking yourself “how will I keep my business alive” or “how will we grow when our competitors are already dominating the market”. 
  3. One way to develop grit is to take on challenges that you don’t quite know how to solve just yet. By putting yourself in a position where you have to figure things out or you will lose, you usually end up coming up with a creative solution. Forcing yourself to take risks will help you be more confident and courageous as you grow your company. In the beginning of my career, I would take on projects that I knew would be tremendously hard to work but that I couldn’t fail at, just so I could develop new skills, be more confident and adapt to new situations to better help our customers.
  4. Try and put yourself out of business. One good idea for new startups is to try and put yourself out of business by developing new processes and/or products that make your previous offerings obsolete. No matter what, the industry is rapidly changing, and as new competitors enter, you are better off being the one who came up with that new innovative process or product rather than letting your competition be the one to put you out of business. For example, we have started creating content for our customers that teaches them on how to do a lot of prototype and product design work by themselves, rather than paying us to do the work. While many would think this is crazy, it has actually resulted in those individuals being more educated and understanding of the process and potential issues that arise when building a new product.
  5. Fall in love with failure. I truly believe that the faster you fail, the faster you succeed. To me, failure is nothing but the result of trying something that won’t work quite the way you thought it would. Experiencing a lot of small failures in the beginning can not only help you develop grit but it can also help you find your true path to success. When starting 3DXtremes, I would always worry about fine-tuning all the tiny details before I made a decision on something, which lead to stress and overthinking 99% of the time. I quickly learned that this was a complete waste of time and that if I simply did what I had on my mind, I would quickly realize if things were going to work or not.

 
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I think I would focus on starting a movement to eliminate going to college as the social norm. Education is extremely important but going to a traditional four-year college is not the only option in today’s world. The crippling amount of student debt that many families and students find themselves in is a major issue for many families nowadays. 
There are so many web-based platforms, trade schools and also transfer programs that help you learn a specific skill for a fraction of the cost. I think it’s time that people take a second look at our education system and ask themselves, “is this the best way for me to spend my time and money in an attempt to become more educated on a particular subject?” For many, college will still be a great choice, but for those that don’t want to or can’t choose that path, they shouldn’t feel ridiculed for not going to college.
 
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can follow my personal Instagram here @bladetaylor22. You can follow 3DXtremes on Instagram at @3dxtremes or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/3dxtremes. Feel free to visit our website as well at www.3dxtremes.com to learn more about our company and services.
 
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!