Designing a Path to the Future of Manufacturing

Tyler Benster

Between studying at Brown University, participating in athletics, and working at internships and summer jobs, Tyler Benster somehow found the time to create his company Azavy with cofounder, Lucas Eggers. The company is quickly growing, and recently won the Student Track at the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition!

Before building Azavy, Tyler gained some valuable business and technological experience that helped him develop his business plan. For two summers, Tyler did software development for a tech start-up in Seattle before moving on to an internship with an investment bank his junior year of college. A great amount of his business knowledge comes from being a co-founder of an education start-up called Classdeck, where he learned how to develop a business from the ground up.

Azavy was created when Tyler and Lucas had a 3D design that they wanted to get printed, and had trouble finding a 3D printer for a good price. They were disappointed with the online services, which were expensive and took too long to deliver. Finally, after posting in a forum, they discovered a local printer that was faster and less expensive than the online companies. After this experience, the duo realized that local printing businesses needed some help getting their names out there, so they created Azavy.

Azavy is an online store for 3D printed goods where designers can post their images for sale, 3D printing services can print images posted in Azavy’s catalog, and consumers can purchase images in the catalog or order printing from the listed printing services. Through this online store, printing services can monetize their 3D printers, and consumers receive fair prices and quick delivery from local printers. The founders compare Azavy to Etsy, with the only difference being that the designer and manufacturer can be different parties.

Tyler got Azavy up and running after eight months of strategizing with Lucas. The two determined that people need to understand the benefits of 3D printing, and the first step was to connect the world with underutilized 3D printers and talented designers who could create the product they were looking for. Each of the printers listed on Azavy have unique qualities and technologies, offering Azavy consumers a customized experience with the best print and price for their needs.

Currently, Tyler is enjoying being the winner of the Student Track at the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition.
“It was thrilling to win! Our team has been working hard on Azavy throughout the school year. We’re honored to have received such a distinction at this early stage,” said Tyler. In the future, Azavy hopes to increase the number of industrial 3D printers in their network and look into business-to-business sales opportunities. Tyler and Lucas are passionate about bringing manufacturing back to Rhode Island, so they are collaborating with Governor Chafee, the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation and Senator Whitehouse’s office to bring a Manufacturing Innovation Institute to Rhode Island.

Azavy was fortunate to have the support and guidance of Brown Venture Labs, Stanford E-Bootcamp, and the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition while starting up. Tyler learned how important it is to have support from others, and he recommends that people starting their own business have a strong network of individuals willing to help.
“Don’t go at it alone! We have been blessed with fabulous partners, mentors, friends, and parents. Identify people that you think could be helpful down the line, and start by asking for their advice.

Build relationships with people that want to see you succeed and make sure to recognize and acknowledge their support,” Tyler said. Most importantly, Tyler believes, “For each success, there were countless other opportunities that did not work out. Persevere through the missteps and use your passion to fuel the victories.”

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