Avi Reichental is the Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of XponentialWorks™, a venture investment, advisory and product development company focused on seeding and scaling high-tech companies that are creating and disrupting the connected world. Having spent a career foretelling the convergence of technological trends while highlighting the unlimited potential of exponential technologies. As such, his insights have been sought out by numerous organizations. Avi spent the previous 12 years guiding 3D Systems as President, Chief Executive Officer and Director. He’s also an active inventor, holding 25 patents.
How did you get into the industry?
In 2003, I was more than two decades into a very comfortable career with Sealed Air Corp. when a head-hunter called me about a CEO opening at 3D Systems. I did my due diligence into the company and realized that, at the time, it had a number of structural problems. I know that taking the position would likely leave me unemployed within a year, but I also saw the incredible potential in the company’s revolutionary 3D printing technology. I knew if I didn’t take the job, I couldn’t live with myself. I took the risk, and I’m glad I did.
Any emerging industry trends?
The commonplace use of 3D printing to construct homes and other buildings is underway. We will see near term traction in both affordable housing, next-gen cognitive connected smart habitats in urban areas and rapid deployment of durable shelter for large-scale disaster recovery.
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
At XponentialWorks, many of our early stage high-tech companies that we are seeding and scaling are disrupting their own industries. Take Nexa3D for example. Nexa3D has developed and patented 3D printing technology that has demonstrated printing speeds that are forty times faster, two times more accurate, at prices five times less than competitive 3D printing technologies. Nexa3D is standing on the precipice of additive manufacturing (AM) revolution and is ready to disrupt an already disruptive market.
Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?
Having spent a career foretelling the convergence of technological trends while highlighting the unlimited possibilities of exponential technologies, I wanted to use my knowledge and expertise in business, IoT, robotics, 3D printing, and deep learning to guide early-stage high-tech companies become tomorrow’s category leaders, and help large high-tech firms harvest exponential technologies. Since 2015, I have served as the Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of XponentialWorks, a venture investment, advisory and product development company focused on seeding and scaling high-tech companies that are creating and disrupting the connected world.
What's next for the Business in the near future?
The early stage high-tech portfolio companies at XponentialWorks encompass many industries and markets. One of these is Centaur Analytics, which is disrupting the Ag Tech industry by connecting crops with cognitive software for a safer and abundant food supply. In the day and age when the world discards nearly $1 trillion worth of food every year, with a whopping 17% of the world’s crops rendered inedible during storage and transit, the need for the technology that offers crop monitoring platforms to eliminate food waste, allowing total transparency from farm to shelf, is urgent. Centaur is developing proprietary sensors that can measure the concentration of fumigant, humidity and temperature levels in real time, transmitting data wirelessly to a cloud-based analytics platform. There, farmers and fumigators can access real-time dashboard data with predictive and prescriptive analytics that are critical to the success of a treatment. Compared to the impractical methods of the past, these systems are simple to install, provide remote access to data collected from inside storage areas, and intelligently guide the users with actionable advice flowing to their smartphone screens.
Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?
At Techniplas, one of the large high-tech companies we at XponentialWorks are helping through their digital transformation, over the past several years, we have piloted what we call the Techniplas Business System in one of our cognitive and connected facilities in Switzerland. It has a great deal of tried-and-proven deep learning, AI, and IoT elements that will deploy company-wide very rapidly. This won’t just enhance the agility and efficiency of our own factories, but give our customers eyes and ears into our operations. And this kind of brilliant factory is not just available for large companies, but big and small companies alike, achieving true democratization in manufacturing.
Another initiative is the more recent partnership between Techniplas and Sharebot, an early-stage industrial 3D-printing company that will change the way Techniplas factories design and create essential tools for additive-manufacturing processes. Techniplas is always looking for groundbreaking solutions at every stage of the workflow, and is constantly seeking out leading technologies and partners that can help realize the full potential of Industry 4.0. For Techniplas, the key to the partnership is Sharebot’s unique vision and the platform’s range of capabilities. And most importantly, this is a partnership that aligns perfectly with Techniplas’ mission of creating an increasingly connected world through innovation and collaboration.
Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)
Many years ago, 3D Systems was just a small start-up with a largely unheard of product, but we knew that 3D printing was a game-changing technology and that gave us confidence to approach major multinational firms and win their business and their trust. During my 12 years of leadership as President, Chief Executive Officer and Director, 3D Systems emerged as a formidable global 3D printing provider with revenue growth exceeding 6-fold and market valuation growing over 12-fold. Today, it is a globally recognized brand and leader in this space.
In the evolution of 3D Systems, and in my own career trajectory, I’ve made one critical observation: you get what you manifest. How we perceive ourselves translates exactly into how we are perceived.
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
At XponentialWorks, we envision a connected world that is powered by cognitive systems that are cyber safe, blockchain trusted, deep learning based and intelligent human to machine interface enabled. We invest early and work closely with our funding teams and network to help build the next generation of impactful technology companies. When we invest, our team commits its collective experience, network, and resources to help our startups prove, nail, and scale their businesses. Together, we are nurturing differentiated products, services, and platforms, creating new business model play-books, holding strategic workshops and hosting powerful networking events – led by our team of experienced, successful, serial entrepreneurs, advisors, subject matter experts and notable industry leaders – where our entrepreneurs learn how to soberly meet and successfully conquer these challenges. We are more than our money. Our hands-on approach with our startups means working with them, shoulder to shoulder from determining the business model, market analysis, customer acquisition and helping them lead their next round.
How do you motivate others?
Success in our industry boils down to our ability to attract and retain the brightest and most ambitious minds in the business. My job as a leader is to push these people to deliver more than they know they are capable of, and to give them the confidence and resources necessary to do so.
There are three critical components to this. First, you have to force people out of their comfort zone, to try to reframe challenges and look for solutions across departments and disciplines. Second, you have to create an environment that encourages healthy risk taking. I encourage my team to own their mistakes: there’s nothing wrong with failure, so long as the company and the individuals grow from it. Finally, all accomplishments, no matter how small, must be acknowledged and celebrated.
Career advice to those in your industry?
Many people early in their careers try to position themselves to capitalize on the high growth sectors of the future. There’s certain logic to this, of course, but I firmly believe that “the best way to predict the future is to create it.” The golden opportunities of the future don’t exist yet – they lie in the technologies that are still in their infancy, or new applications created from an entirely new combination of existing ideas.