When Eugene Suyu, a 26-year-old entrepreneur from Vancouver, first came across a 3D printer at university, he was immediately fascinated by its possibilities. He decided to manufacture them and founded his own 3D printer company. Because of his success as an entrepreneur, Suyu will be one of this year’s recipients of B.C. Business Magazine’s Top 30 under 30 award, a prize honoring B.C.’s most outstanding young business leaders.
A designer at heart, Suyu was thrilled by the 3D printer from the moment he first used one at Simon Fraser University.
“I wanted to own a 3D printer because it can create everything I want – everything the mind can imagine,” says Suyu.
The university’s printers, however, were too expensive, so Suyu came up with the idea of creating his own affordable 3D printers, and launched Tinkerine.
A family of entrepreneurs
Tinkerine is not the first company of the Taiwan-born entrepreneur, who came to Vancouver at the age of nine. In Grade 12, Suyu founded his first company, and in his second year at university, another one.
“My family is a family of entrepreneurs, so I grew up in this environment,” explains Suyu.
He quit both companies eventually and launched Tinkerine in 2012. His greatest challenge back then was finding the right people to start the business with. Suyu chose three friends, and together they launched the new company in his living room in Langley. Now, he employs 22 professionals, and Tinkerine has expanded into larger premises in Vancouver.
“The journey was fun, and still is,” says Suyu.
Finding an apt name took the founders quite a while. In the end, it was Suyu who came up with Tinkerine.
“It derives from the verb to tinker and defines where the industry comes from, ” he explains. “We are people who like to tinker with things.”
The entrepreneur points out that the company hopes more and more people will use this technology. He considers educational institutions one of the business’s target groups.
“We hope that eventually teachers will be able to educate students on how to use a 3D printer and use the technology in their classrooms,” he says.
3D printers work like regular printers, except that they release melted plastic instead of ink; objects are then built up layer by layer. In order to print items with a 3D printer, consumers must design objects on a computer first. According to Suyu, that is the tricky part.
“People can use a 3D scanner to design an object, but then they can only duplicate already existing items. Or they work with professional designers, which would be pricy. Alternatively, they can educate themselves on how to design objects,” says the entrepreneur.
In order to train people, and provide them with the necessary skills, the company has launched an educational online platform that enables individuals to teach themselves the basics of 3D printing and develop their own projects.
“It’s like learning how to type: at first you are slow, but over time you improve,” says Suyu.
Vancouver has the people Tinkerine needs
Tinkerine originated in Vancouver, and Eugene Suyu never considered relocating his business.
“Vancouver is my backyard,” he says.
He believes this city is the perfect place for a company like Tinkerine.
“Vancouver offers what the 3D printing industry needs most: young, passionate individuals with fresh ideas, who are fast at learning and challenge conventions,” Suyu says.
At the end of April, Suyu will be honored for his success as an entrepreneur. For him, the award ceremony offers a great way to meet and connect with other entrepreneurs. While he is happy to receive the award, what’s most important to him is helping others achieve the same.
“I am glad if I can guide aspiring entrepreneurs, and explain how I proceeded and what worked for me,” he says.
For more information, check out www.tinkerine.com and www.sfu.ca/sfunews/stories/2015/sfu-alumni-garner-2015-top-30-under-30-awards.html