You never know who you will meet at a networking event. A handshake and business card exchange might lead to a deal of some kind some day. Or you might meet someone from the same college, a sharing of experience and brand loyalty that also might lead to a deal. Such is the case of Scot Wingo’s increasing involvement in a 3D startup.
Wingo not only runs Morrisville-based ChannelAdvisor, which he took public in 2013, but also actively invests in startups. He hopes to help other entrepreneurs succeed as he has.
But his latest move means offering even more formal advice .
Earlier this week, Columbia, S.C.-based ZVerse announced that Wingo had joined its board of directors. A reference was made to the fact that Wingo had invested earlier in the firm. ZVerse describes itself this way: “ZVerse creates software applications to make any 2D content 3D printable. The applications can be run on any website and their solutions serve industries including: promotional products, collegiate and professional licensing, and the broader consumer products industry.”
3D printing is certainly a hot space these days, and if Wingo is involved … well.
Intrigued, The Skinny fired off an email to ZVerse co-founder and chief marketing office Kevin Maloney asking about the deal. Malone responded with an interesting backstory.
“Scot invested in October of 2013 after meeting our CEO, John Carrington, at an event in Raleigh,” Maloney wrote back.
“John and Scot graduated from University of South Carolina, so there was a Gamecock connection.
“After Scot learned about the company, he wanted to invest.
“We didn’t solicit an investment from Scot, so it was exciting that he offered to invest.”
Note Wingo “wanted” to invest.
More than money
Startups in the Triangle are well aware that Wingo isn’t reluctant to part with cash in exchange for a bet on an idea. (A recent deal involves an app for mobile car washes.)
But the ZVerse crew is smart enough to realize that Wingo has much more to offer than money.
He has built a global enterprise that provides ecommerce-related services to some of the world’s top retailers as well as a brood of smaller firms. ChannelAdvisor also has invested heavily in China – and what smart business person today wouldn’t want to glean some advice from Wingo about how to do business successfully in that economy?
“Of course, we saw the value that Scot could bring with his experience growing software companies, so we asked if he would be open to a board seat,” Maloney explains.
“Scot joins an already strong board that includes Walter Alessandrini who has led several multi-billion dollar companies including Pirelli North America and Avanex. Walter was our first outside investor.” (Alessandrini is former CEO of Pirelli N.A., former CEO of Avanex which executed an IPO in 2000, and former CEO of Ometric.)
As ZVerse continues to grow, Wingo can also offer insight to ZVerse’s leaders about how to raise more capital. ChannelAdvisor raised a lot from high-profile investors such as eBay in its rise to an IPO.
“ZVerse, Inc. has raised $1.5 million seed funding from accredited investors in the southeast. Now that we have proven there is a consumer market for products created using our technology, the company will be raising a Series A round this year to accelerate growth,” Maloney points out.
“An incredible year”
CEO Carrington announced Wingo’s board acceptance as part of a press release summing up the past year for the company.
“2014 was an incredible year for our young company. We are excited to report that we have grown our consumer 3D print business 30% month over month in our first 12 months of commercialization,” Carrington said.
“This is important because it shows 3D printing can reach the broader consumer market and it demonstrates that content is king in any dimension.”
(Note: Now THAT is a nice turn of a phrase.)
In the announcement, Wingo explained his own enthusiasm for ZVerse:
“ZVerse is solving the content problem facing the 3D printing industry. Their technology, customer acquisition success and portfolio of licensing partners has allowed them to bring 3D printing to consumers clamoring for content that they can relate to. They have a great vision for the company and they’ve shown the ability to execute quickly.”
ZVerse can cite some credible achievements:
- 62% of purchases in 2014 were made by females
- 90% of surveyed purchasers had no understanding of 3D printing, demonstrating ZVerse penetration of a broader consumer market
- Invented a patent pending, 3D print, color post processing technology for enhanced durability, color, and improved aesthetics
- Featured designer in Amazon 3D Print store for Q4 2014
- Obtained license for the College Football Playoff and College Football Playoff National Championship game in addition to an existing portfolio of 35 collegiate licenses
ZVerse is young, having just launched in April of 2013. With Wingo involved as an investor and now as a board member – and with two execs who have pulled off IPOs – the bet here is that ZVerse won’t have too much difficulty raising that next round.