For software company 3DSIM, Park City is home
October 28, 2016
Brent Stucker, founder of 3DSIM, was facing a major problem when the 3-D printing software startup company was based in Louisville, Kentucky.
He had the money to hire new employees and begin expanding the business in an effort to stay ahead of his competitors. But the in-demand recruits Stucker was seeking did not see Louisville as a desirable destination.
"We would search and search and search for talent who would be willing to move there," he said. "In some cases, we had positions that we were trying to fill for over a year with no success."
That all changed when the company moved to Park City early in 2015. 3DSIM originally wanted to relocate to nearby Salt Lake City because of the area's business climate, the proximity to an international airport and the local talent pool. Then, it chose Park City — Kimball Junction, more accurately — because the lifestyle the town offered.
The move opened up a new world to Stucker. Instead of him fighting to get potential recruits to Louisville, job hunters were seeking him out in Park City. The company began hiring the top people on its list, even rebuffing job-seekers from places like New York City and Silicon Valley, and grew from six full-time employees to about 20.
"We've recruited people from around the country to come here," he said. "When they come out and see the location of the office and all the different living options, whether it's Salt Lake, Coalville, Kamas or right here in Park City, they're blown away. … Any time we need talent and we have funding to get more talent, we can find the talent."
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Being able to recruit top talent is critical for any startup. But 3DSIM, in particular, relies on that competitive edge. The company develops software that predicts the complicated physics that intersect when 3-D printing metals, which Stucker said can take scientists more than a year to understand on their own. The software allows businesses to begin successfully 3-D printing metals without that expertise.
3DSIM is not the only company vying to dominate that product space. Stucker said his company is competing against established businesses, some of which have tens of millions of dollars to spend on research and development. The only way 3DSIM can stay ahead of them is by coming up with more creative, innovative ideas — dreamed up by first-class talent.
"If they can catch up to us from an innovation standpoint, we don't stand a chance," Stucker said. "If we can out-innovate them, then we can win. Our success has to be based on continuing to innovate faster. … We can innovate because we're small and nimble. They have a hard time innovating because they're large and, depending on the company, bureaucratic or have a culture of sustaining and improving what already exists versus scrapping it and starting over with something that doesn't exist yet."
The move to Park City, though, has not come without one downside. It's harder for companies in Park City, Stucker said, to catch the attention of angel investors than it is for a tech startup in Silicon Valley. That's forced 3DSIM to rely mostly on investors the company already knows from the 3-D printing industry. Over the next year or two, the company plans to make a push to tap into investors outside the industry.
Despite that, Park City has proven to be exactly the place for 3DSIM to flourish. It recently launched a new product, and Stucker is optimistic for the future, when he expects to hire even more talented people who will take the company to the next level.
"Innovative people are attracted to certain lifestyles," he said. "What we find is the creative talent we need tends to really like this lifestyle, likes living in the mountains, with the chance to get a lot of exercise and fresh air and go skiing."
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