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“In order to thrive you need to understand what you can’t do” With Filemon Schöffer, CMO of 3D Hubs

When people start their career, especially when coming from University, they’ve been educated to be the ‘smartest in the room’ (as a…


When people start their career, especially when coming from University, they’ve been educated to be the ‘smartest in the room’ (as a mentality). Many young employees, including myself at the time, have this competitive mindset where they tend to compete with the people around them. My advice to everyone would be to be focus on what you can, and therefore understand what you can’t do. Work with the people around you, leveraging their strengths (in a good way), to achieve the best possible results. This will allow you to put a lot more leverage on your own ideas and vision while building fruitful relations. Once I realized this I also took myself less seriously and — from there on — I learned how to help others work with their strengths. It also is, what I like to believe, what makes a good ‘manager’.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Filemon Schöffer, CMO of 3D Hubs, “the world’s largest network of manufacturing facilities”, co-author of The 3D Printing Handbook, a bestseller on 3D printing.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’ve always been interested in understanding what makes a great product or brand. I came to realize that for a company to be successful, besides having a good product, it’s distribution (e.g. marketing, sales, branding, communication) that is just as — if not more — important. From there on I’ve been hacking my way through the latest developments of the internet and use it to the advantage of marketing and sales teams I worked with.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this career?

Building the world’s largest 3D printing network — to over 20,000 print services — from scratch probably tops the list. A funny experience I once had in the early days was at customs when entering the US. After the officer has asked me a few questions he concluded that I was from 3D Hubs and he was an actual supplier, with his machines on our network! 🙂

Also, writing a book on 3D printing introduced me to some very inspiring people in our industry. For example, Tony Fadell, designer of the iPod and founder of Nest, agreed to write our foreword and endorse the book — I’m a big fan of his work so this was a fantastic experience!

Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting?

Oh man, where do I start 🙂

My most stupid mistakes have been done through email marketing, mostly sending to the wrong people.

Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Use systems, like a ‘2nd pair of eyes’ and a checklist, before you press the red button on things like mass email

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

We’re the first company bringing cloud manufacturing to the industry. It’s a cliché I know, but it’s best compared to what Uber has done for private transport.

Previously, companies have allowed manufacturing to be done through online portals, but these companies would still own the facilities/factories and the online access point would come as an afterthought.

We’re now using machine learning algorithms to link supply to demand and give pricing for manufacturing, based on a global network of facilities, in real-time. This has never been done before.

Parts are manufactured and delivered to over 50 countries in as fast as 48 hours. Since 2013 over 2 Million parts have been delivered to companies globally and we’re currently producing over 100,000 parts a month without owning a single machine.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes! We’re currently developing an AI for “Design for Manufacturing” feedback. This means that parts can be optimized and adjusted before going into production. This has the potential to completely de-risk manufacturing and helps engineers and designers get to market a lot faster. In the future this AI could even suggest design improvements to make even better parts, before producing them


Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Is there a takeaway or lessons that others can learn from that?

One thing stands out for me. When people start their career, especially when coming from University, they’ve been educated to be the ‘smartest in the room’ (as a mentality). Many young employees, including myself at the time, have this competitive mindset where they tend to compete with the people around them.

My advice to everyone would be to be focus on what you can, and therefore understand what you can’t do. Work with the people around you, leveraging their strengths (in a good way), to achieve the best possible results. This will allow you to put a lot more leverage on your own ideas and vision while building fruitful relations.

Once I realized this I also took myself less seriously and — from there on — I learned how to help others work with their strengths. It also is, what I like to believe, what makes a good ‘manager’.

What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?

Let me start by saying I’m not a burn-out expert, but I can share my personal experiences.

Focus. Focus on your strengths and the deliverables connected to it. Make a planning each day / week on a few key deliverables (shouldn’t plan for more than 4 hours I believe). Determine for yourself that these deliverables are a good result for the day / week.

I’ve experienced this:

1. Makes you think more strategic, in terms of deliverables (and not just keeps you busy)

2. Gives you an end-point of when work is ‘done’ (so you can go and do other things, while feeling fulfilled)

I’ve had points in my career when work just kept piling up. If then, you don’t have a clear end-point of where you want to be at the end of day / week, you just go on forever. This can be a recipe for burn-out

How do you define “Marketing”? Can you explain what you mean?

Marketing is about getting the right product, to the right people, at the right time. In an online environment, this means attracting the right people (traffic, lead scoring, SEO, SEM, qualification, etc) to your product, and getting them what they need at the right time (outbound sales, email marketing, lifecycle nurturing, etc).

When compared to sales activities, I use to say that a marketing team’s focus is on “high volume (lot of users), generally low value” (the nets), and sales is about “low volume, high value” (the spears)

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 about that?

For me, it’s the teams I work with. Continuing on what I said earlier, if you’re truly open to insights from others, you can grow a lot by surrounding yourself with capable people. That’s also key when building a strong team — each team member feels they can learn and benefit from the others.

In terms of famous people, I’m a big fan of Tim Ferris and his teachings on how to approach work (and life for that matter)

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire 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. 🙂

Definitely something connected to sustainable energy.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” ― Confucius

This inspires me to get started with daunting tasks and gives me confidence in trying big things

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Twitter: @filemonschoffer

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

Originally published at medium.com

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