news & events

Catching up with StartUp Lehigh Valley winner: Verde Mantis

Lehigh Valley LaunchBox (LVLB) partnered with Factory, LLC on StartUp Lehigh Valley in November where ten entrepreneurs, selected to participate through an application process, presented a virtual, two-minute live pitch with their business ideas to the panel of judges and virtual audience in a lively shark-tank style event. Participants had a chance to win an award that was part of the $10,000 in prize money from event sponsor Penn State Lehigh Valley LaunchBox. JPMorgan Chase & Co. also served as an event sponsor. 

Now LVLB checks in with event winners on their progress, their advice for other entrepreneurs and how they are benefitting from being part of LVLB. 

 Wesley Hart, Verde Mantis, LP received the third-place prize of $1,500 for “the world’s easiest-to-use 3D printer.”  

Q: What inspired you to start your business? 

Hart: I’m the marketing director for Verde Mantis. Joe Sinclair is the founder of Verde Mantis. Joe founded the company after spending a decade in the 3D printing industry working on dozens of different 3D Printers and recognizing that no one had built a printer that was truly easy to use. 

 He decided to build a better 3D printer that addressed all the pain points associated with learning how to 3D Print… one that was affordable, offered tremendous value, yet was simple to start using and keep running. 

 He started with a blank sheet of paper, and from the ground up began designing a 3D printer that would have the absolute best firmware, software and hardware… designed to work in perfect harmony and provide a sublime and easy user experience. 

Flash forward three years, and we are building and shipping the Mantis 3D Printer from our facilities in Reading and East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. 

Initial Feedback from users has been stellar, sales are gaining momentum, and we’re excited to watch things grow! 

 Q: What was your biggest challenge before receiving this prize money from LVLB through StartUP Lehigh Valley? Has it helped you overcome your challenge – if so, in what way? 

 Hart: Our biggest challenge was educating potential customers about the benefits that make the Mantis 3D Printer so special. It may look like a traditional 3D Printer, but under the hood it offers so, so, so much more. 

 Learning how to best articulate all these special benefits was a learning process, but we’ve been able to progress through steadfast experimentation and testing and refining our strategy accordingly. 

 This prize money came at the perfect time. Now that we’ve refined our messaging a bit, we are ready to begin stepping up our online advertising. This $1,500 is going to directly fund this important new initiative and will directly help Verde Mantis grow and reach a larger audience than ever before. 

 Q: What LVLB services have you taken advantage of/plan to take advantage of? 

 Hart: We plan to work with LVLB as much as possible. We have only scratched the tip of the iceberg in terms of the help LVLB offers small businesses, and we’re excited to learn more. Legal advice, strategy coaching, and networking opportunities floated to the top of our minds… but we’re excited to talk more and learn about the other amazing services LVLB offers to small businesses! 

 Q: What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs as they start their businesses? 

 Hart: The best businesses provide a solution to a very painful (and therefore very valuable) pain point… but that doesn’t mean to ignore your heart. Follow your passion first, apply solid business practices second. The mind is here to serve the desires of the heart… not the other way around.