Why We Invested - Fast Radius
I do not believe it’s too bold a statement to say the future of the global supply chain is moving toward a hyper-local, hyper-custom, and hyper-now (thanks Amazon!) reality. And make no mistake that industrial-grade additive and broader advanced manufacturing methods are now here to stay given the improved unit economics that are closely tracked to the well-tread “Cost per unit vs. Units produced” cost curve. Combine all of this with a world-class team with a vision to build a scalable, end-to-end software, manufacturing, and fulfillment platform to seamlessly orchestrate that future state of the entire supply chain value chain (design, build, distribute and operate), and we’re proud to announce our participation in Fast Radius’s $56M Series B round that closed in February 2020. This capital helps accelerate Fast Radius’s “Cloud Manufacturing Platform” development efforts plus scale-up its production-grade additive manufacturing capacity, and we were thrilled to team up with a top tier investment syndicate including Drive Capital, Energize Ventures, UPS, Jump Capital, Hyde Park Venture Partners and Skydeck (Michael Polsky Family Office).
From a fortuitous 2015 flight together down to one of Fast Radius’s production facilities at UPS Worldport in Louisville, KY, Fast Radius CEO, Lou Rassey, stood out to me as one of the most passionate, genuine, and domain-experienced Industry4.0 founders I’d ever interacted with. We kept the dialog going as he went on to open their HQ and advanced production facility in Chicago in 2018, and step-by-step, milestone-by-milestone Lou and team continued to execute flawlessly toward their massive vision that has now become a reality of building a software-orchestrated, global network of advanced manufacturing production capabilities for their customers. Alongside his world-class co-founders Pat McCusker, John Nanry, and Bill King, Lou’s leadership also continues to draw in world-class talent from the likes of Amazon, GE, Magic Leap, Rubicon Global, IDEO, McKinsey, and many other premier talent pools. As an investor, you just know it when you see it sometimes and Fast Radius was not a hard decision for Ironspring Ventures to get behind as we watched their rapid trajectory.
Whether looking at the company’s production method capabilities including additive, CNC, injection molding, or cast urethane, to segmenting across a range of both industrial grade and consumer products served on the platform, Fast Radius has proven the ability to provide a very diverse range of services to a very diverse customer base across market verticals including Satair (aerospace), Colgate Palmolive (CPG), Husqvarna (automotive), and even ramping up efforts to support critical PPE medical face masks and ventilators during the COVID pandemic. The possibilities are limitless for Fast Radius as they continue to educate and consult with customers on identifying the solid technical and economic business case applications now available to the market via advanced manuf. methods that those customers never imagined were even possible. And to take one step further into the future, Fast Radius’s strategically placed fulfillment facilities located all across the globe in major distribution hubs (Chicago, Singapore, Atlanta, Louisville; often coordinated with support from strategic investor, UPS) allow for a future where product manufacturers can now store digital part file information in the cloud to be printed or manufactured-on-demand via a “Virtual Warehouse” approach. Trains, planes, automobiles, and warehouses will always have major roles to play in the global supply chain, but the efficiencies, productivity, and sustainability gains to be accrued from more localized, custom and on-demand production methods will become a complete game-changer for the way our world’s GDP flows.
Within the advanced manuf. ecosystem, a lot of attention is understandably given to next-generation materials development, OEM hardware innovation, and even the novel end-products created from these new capabilities. That said, the associated profit pool and TAM supporting tech-enabled production services (design, scalable production runs, supply chain & logistics) that occur behind the scenes will ultimately dwarf any of those individual categories in isolation over the next decade. Fast Radius’s strategy to focus on this tech-enabled production services gap has now been proven itself out in the market, and the company continues to expand its capabilities with fellow advanced manuf. partners rapidly. With this strategic approach and pioneering innovation, it was no surprise why the World Economic Forum (WEF) recognized Fast Radius in 2018 as one of the initial nine companies globally best implementing technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry4.0) - the only company at the time that was based in North America – and awarded the company the designation of a “Global Manufacturing Lighthouse” Network Member that WEF and McKinsey expand annually with premier innovators in the manufacturing sector who are bridging physical and digital excellence across their operations.
The future is enormous for Fast Radius to truly “Make New Things Possible”, and we think the company’s potential is only in the early innings of adoption towards creating the future of a more connected, sustainable global supply chain. It’s a privilege to be a supporter alongside these pioneers.
Fast Radius Website: https://www.fastradius.com/
Fast Radius Hiring: https://jobs.lever.co/fastradius
Fast Radius WEF/McKinsey “Global Manufacturing Lighthouse” Network