Ep. #974 - The Engineering Entrepreneur
In today’s episode of Startup Hustle, we’re looking into the mind of an entrepreneur with an engineering background. Matt Watson talks to Scott Tarcy, president of CAD Design Help, about his business and the industry in general. And how the latter transitioned from being a mechanical engineer to a business owner.
Covered In This Episode
You’re one step closer to success when you understand how the world works. That is the idea that Scott highlights in his conversation with Matt.
He also talks about 3D printing and what the future holds for the industry. Moreover, the duo examines the traits of engineers and how advantageous it is for business owners. Be sure not to miss Scott’s recommendation on the 3D printer you should buy if you’re in the market for one.
If you want to learn more about the 3D printing business, this Startup Hustle episode is for you.
- What does a mechanical engineer do? (01:32)
- Scott’s background (03:21)
- On selling stuff online (08:08)
- The coolest commissioned designs by Scott (10:55)
- The Engineering Entrepreneur podcast (13:30)
- Why are engineering traits good to have for entrepreneurs? (15:00)
- Scott’s greatest motivator (16:25)
- Differences in work styles for different people in corporate (19:08)
- Learning new stuff off the resources you have on the internet (22:11)
- Problems that engineers might have as entrepreneurs (25:37)
- How Scott manages his time inventing and making sales for the business (28:45)
- Matt’s thoughts on having a co-founder (31:51)
- On 3D printing and how it is growing through the years (35:16)
- Working with clients who design themselves and outsource the printing (40:00)
I learned that, as an entrepreneur, you’re going to have your ups and downs. And when things were slow, I realized I had these machines. I could make physical products I could sell online as a secondary revenue source.– Scott Tarcy
Being super realistic with things maybe helps a lot. You know you don’t try things that are too crazy, I suppose, versus somebody that maybe doesn’t have that kind of background. They might try to create things that are just impossible. And so, you know, wasted time creating impossible things.– Scott Tarcy
I feel like, especially in early-stage startups, there are always many problems, many unknowns, and many things to figure out. You need people that have that in their DNA. They’re just good problem solvers, and they’re willing to jump and build things.– Matt Watson
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Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Matt Watson 00:00
And we’re back for another episode of the Startup Hustle podcast. This is Matt Watson, your host today. I’m excited to be joined by Scott Tarcy from CADdesignhelp.com. If you’re looking to do some design work, he’ll be the guy. I’m excited to talk to him about what he does today and how engineers are good entrepreneurs. You know, I’m an engineer, so it’s easy, and it’s gonna be a fun conversation today. Before we get started, I do want to remind everybody that today’s episode of the Startup Hustle is powered by FullScale.io. Hiring software developers is difficult. Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably. And has the platform to help you manage your team. Visit FullScale.io to learn more. Scott, how are you doing, man?
Scott Tarcy 00:45
I’m good, man. How are you?
Matt Watson 00:47
So I’m an engineer. But I think you’re a totally different kind of engineer to me. What kind of engineer are you?
Scott Tarcy 00:53
Yeah, before we started the recording, you said you were a computer engineer, a computer science engineer. I’m a mechanical engineer. So I went to school at Virginia Tech for that. That’s my degree. And basically, what we do is we design like physical items. Like any physical product you see up in the market, it could be a golf ball, golf club, or it could be laundry basket. I was looking around my house and stuff, you know, it could be nail clippers, coffee cups, like all these kinds of stuff falls under what engineers mean. Cars are obviously a big one. People tend to think of, you know, but when you get a car, there are hundreds of engineers. Each engineer does one little piece. I used to work at a big company that made dishwashers. And I just worked on one little part of it. Just a little control panel on top. That’s literally the only thing I did. So, anyway, that’s kind of what mechanical engineers do.
Matt Watson 01:41
So most people would probably assume that Silicon Valley probably has more software engineers than any other part of the United States. But actually, and I’ve been told this, I don’t know if it’s true. Kansas City has more engineers per capita than any other place in the United States in all forms of engineering, not just software engineers. There are a lot of things designed here in Kansas City. It’s kind of interesting. Like we design a lot of stadiums around the world. All the gas power plants, nuclear power plants; there are some big companies here, engineering firms in Kansas City.
Scott Tarcy 02:17
I have to say I did not know that. Yeah, no, I mean, I could totally believe it. I mean, there’s a lot of demand for others.
Matt Watson 02:25
So I’m excited to talk today about how engineers make good entrepreneurs, but I’d first love to learn a little more about your background. And you know, how you have, you know, your career.
Scott Tarcy 02:41
Yeah, as I said, I went to school for college for mechanical engineering and took a typical design job right out of college. I was working for a company called United pet group. So this company made basically any kind of pet product. Specifically, they meant they had dogs and cats, everything. But the division that I worked in, I was living in Virginia at the time. Did pet, sorry, fish stuff. So I did like aquariums, like designing aquariums, designing pumps, the pump the water, little like fountain accessory pieces, like all kinds of random stuff for fish, indoor and outdoor, actually did a lot more outdoor stuff like an outdoor koi pond. Then I did indoors for the first couple of years. And then I would do both, I think, later on. And so that’s a pretty typical start of a career for somebody that got my degree because it pays pretty well. It’s pretty easy to find a job. After that, I worked for a company in North Carolina called a well, vertical part of Bosch. Bosch has many divisions like Bosch automotive. This was Bosch home appliances. So I specifically worked on dishwasher design. So we’re talking earlier about how there could be hundreds of engineers. There were like 100 engineers just to make this dishwasher of all kinds of different electrical and electronics, mechanical engineers like me for like the physical parts. And all I pretty much did was design the control panels, like where the buttons are. And like I visited factories that made me learn quite a bit. But what I found over time was that I don’t have the right personality. So I just don’t fit into a corporate environment very well. I’m too much like a free thinker that I just knew I needed to be my own boss of some type. And it made sense. I liked what I did. For the most part, I didn’t like what I didn’t like about the corporate world, like, you know, the politics and all the meetings and stuff like this, like the actual design work, is what I’d like to do, like sitting down the computer and drawing it up and making it work. And so basically, I started doing that on the side, at the same time. What I had done was I left that job and I started working in sales because I knew that I also had to be able to sell, and this was something I had never learned and never done before. So I took a big pay cut in 2014 and took a sales job, and literally made 60 cold calls a day that people would never hear of selling. Like there’s like these smart screens, touchscreen things like offices. And that was interesting, to say the least. I wouldn’t recommend people try to get work that way by cold calling because it’s super inefficient. But I learned how to do it and learned how to talk to people and try to persuade them. I guess you could say to, you know, if there was even a slight demand for what we were providing, I could at least try to get a meeting set up. So I learned a lot about it. But at the same time, I was starting this CAD design thing on the side. And it really started to pick up in 2015. And it got to the point where I was able to quit that sales job and go full-time with this. And so basically, my company’s CADdesignhelp.com. And I started out just doing the 3D designs for typically inventors or small bits. So if you’re like an individual inventor, and you have a product you want to bring to the market, you would hire me to design it right. And at the beginning, I just did the design work. And what I realized is they all want to get physical prototyping. That’s typically the next step. And I was outsourcing it to this guy. And I said I should bring this up internally for a couple reasons. One is I can verify the design better and faster. And two, this is like another revenue source. I would make a little bit off the top of whatever that guy was charging. But it wasn’t the same as being able to do it internally myself and have a much better margin.
Matt Watson 06:24
So that’s what, yep, so good. I’m gonna guess you have a house full of 3D printers.
Scott Tarcy 06:29
You’re exactly right. So when I started out, I had one really crappy, a cheap one, because I didn’t really know what I was doing. I didn’t want to invest a bunch of money. And honestly, some of the cheap ones I have now are better than that one. But like I had to learn a lot. So I bought the one that was marketed really well. Let’s put it that way. It wasn’t very good. But it was marketed really well. And it caught my eye, and I bought it, and it sucked. And it took me like six months before I could make anything. But now I have gotten rid of that machine. I’ve got seven pretty good machines. Now I’m pretty set. That pretty much covers everything I need to make. So that’s kind of how I got started. I just want you to know at. First, I did the design work, then I outsourced the 3D printing, then I brought it internally. And since then, you know, I’ve expanded in a few ways. One is I learned that as an entrepreneur, you’re going to have your ups and downs. And when things were slow, I realized I had these machines, and I could make physical products I could sell online as a secondary revenue source. So that’s what I did. I started designing all kinds of stuff.
Matt Watson 07:30
You know, I see people on TikTok that do all sorts of weird stuff. And they must have an online e-commerce store.
Scott Tarcy 07:40
Exactly. I have a really cool, yeah, I have an Amazon. I have an eBay, and I have an Etsy store. And you know, I tried to find things that are in demand. Some of these things are just ornamental things. Some of these things are things that actually serve a utility, but either way, I’m trying to think about what somebody would buy if one of my better inventions was I had a Yeti cup. And I’m a big golfer. I was on the golf course. I have my Yeti cup in my bag. I was walking the course that day, and it was splashing everywhere. There’s a little hole on the top. And I’m like, why is there not a plug for this? And I Googled it. I was like, “I can solve this problem in no time. So I did it. You know, it always takes a couple, Sal. Every inventor is like, you’re not going to nail it the first time. I got pretty close measure the whole design. The thing 3D printed was a little bit too big. Didn’t fit that little smaller. Okay, it fits pretty well. And I’ve made other versions since then. Now I have a silicone version, which is perfect because it’s like a switchable material. Yeah, it forms a perfect seal. But in any case, I made this solve my own problem. I said You know what, I could bet other people would buy this, and it still sells today. This was five years ago. I mean, this is an extra 50-100 bucks a month.
Matt Watson 08:49
I mean, it’s very cheap, $2 a piece, but you know, it costs me pennies to make that new print at home, or you know, I just make everything myself.
Scott Tarcy 08:52
Would you say, even if it’s silicone? Yeah, what I do is I have a 3D print mold, and then I pour, pour that. Okay, okay, got it. I have to hold it if I charge more for that because there’s a lot more labor, but it’s a better product.
Matt Watson 09:08
And then, or if you have any kids, you put them to work.
Scott Tarcy 09:12
I actually hired a kid in the neighborhood myself, but there’s a kid in the neighborhood who wants to make some money, and I pay him like, you know, a decent rate of cash that’s on the table, and he comes over, and you know, for some molds for silicone.
Matt Watson 09:26
Have you ever seen the guy on Tiktok? I’m pretty sure it’s called unnecessary inventions.
Scott Tarcy 09:32
Yes, I need to look at this more. I don’t use TikTok a lot. But I have a friend that uses it, and he’ll send me some of those videos, and I’ve seen it, and it’s pretty interesting.
Matt Watson 09:41
I mean, it’s like the best channel ever, and you would absolutely love it because it’s all stuff he likes from three brands. And it’s like the weirdest, goofiest invention you would ever imagine.
Scott Tarcy 09:52
Like, why would somebody like, yes, it can be done, but should you have done that? Oh, yeah, it’s incredible. So I’m doing it for fun, obviously, because, Yeah, it’s like, don’t waste your time if you’re trying to try to turn a profit here. You don’t waste your time with stuff like that. But no, he probably monetizes his channel because it gets tons of views.
Matt Watson 10:08
Oh, yeah, millions. So I’m curious what is the coolest thing somebody’s ever come to you and asked you to design?
Scott Tarcy 10:15
Man, that’s a good question because I’ve done so many things. Some of the weirdest one of the weirdest things were this like, they called it the Doggy Dog. Like this dog toy shaped like a dildo. It was really weird. And I’m like, I don’t know why you’d want this thing sitting on the floor in your house. If somebody comes over for dinner, they don’t even know what this is. I mean. It looks so just wrong in so many ways.
Matt Watson 10:37
I was gonna ask you if you’ve ever been asked to, like, great design, like weird sex toys, I guess.
Scott Tarcy 10:42
I mean, at least once a month, I get at least as somebody asked me, and I put in a bid. Yeah, people have like really weird sex toy ideas. Like, don’t ask me questions. You know, I mean, I’m not turned on for work. But it’s just like, sometimes I forget this stuff. And I’m thinking, You’re crazy. Like, this is so bizarre. But some of the cooler things I did this one thing with this paintbrush, this guy was like, really good, like paint it like artists and some kind of bowl like so apparently use mineral spirits to clean paint brushes, yes, in like, evaporate. So he found a way to like and it’s expensive the mineral spirits. So he found a way to create this bowl that would seal, and like you could keep it in there for like a couple of weeks, it would save you a lot of money in the long run. And that was like, That was a long time ago, I did that. But that was a really complicated product because it had all these crazy ridges on it and stuff. It was really hard to mold. But you know, we figured it out. You know, I’ve learned a lot about like, like, what you learned doing this is, like, a lot of the best inventions are from people that work in very specific industries. So it’s not necessarily going to be something that’s going to apply to everybody in the world. Yeah, it’s something that, like, like, I had this one guy’s electrician, and like when he goes into these buildings, like for like commercial buildings, and they put in the electrical wire, like, there was some issue of like it getting cut, and this little plastic tube thing we made would like to prevent that. And like every single electrician would buy it because it would save them so much money. That’s the kind of best intervention that you have if you work in a very specific industry or have a hobby. Like if you’re a golfer or a golf pro, I’ve done tons of golf things like if you know a certain drill that you want people to do, or like a certain thing you want them to, like if you can create, like if you know a lot about it. That’s where the money is, like could because it’s like really simple things like, oh, I want an iPhone case like, okay, dude, like, there’s a bazillion iPhone cases, like yours isn’t probably gonna be that different. But if you’re in a specific industry, there’s a certain segment of people that everyone’s gonna want, it’s a big problem. That’s where you want to try to create a product.
Matt Watson 12:41
So I do want to make sure the mentioned survey knows that you also have your own podcast called The engineering entrepreneur. You want to tell us a little bit about that real fast.
Scott Tarcy 12:53
I started that for a couple of reasons. I mean, one, obviously, like credibility out there, you know, getting your name out there, SEO, marketing, all that stuff. But also because I wanted to listen to a podcast about somebody doing something like I was doing, and there nothing existed, at least in 2016 When I started it. So that’s why I started the podcast. And so I’ve interviewed tons of different engineers and entrepreneurs and a lot of stuff related to inventors, like patent agents that work in the patent office. So if you want to know how stuff gets patented, I’ve learned a ton. I’ve done at least three episodes like a Patent Agent or a patent attorney. There’s a slight difference there. But tons of people invented something. And it’s really cool. It’s a lot like Shark Tank, but like verbally, right? Like the inventor episodes, yeah. Oh, how did I come up with this idea? How did I create the product, like how to do the marketing, like all the stuff you need as an inventor. I’ve talked with people about it, and it’s just like Shark Tank, but it’s way more detailed because Shark Tank, they’ll show like a little five-minute segment of like what they did, but it doesn’t really go into the details of everything. And that’s really where my show came in for those kinds of episodes. I mean, we’ve had other types where it’s just like engineers working at companies, or it could be engineers having their own company like me. And so I’ve done, like, 120 episodes so far.
Matt Watson 14:06
Oh, wow. Well, good. Well, so I’d love to talk more today about being an engineer, and then how that’s actually kind of a good trait for us to be an entrepreneur. But maybe before we talk about that, I almost feel like being an engineer actually has some bad traits or being an entrepreneur. And maybe you and I, so we’re both different kinds of engineers. But it seems like you and I, for most engineers, most engineers, let’s be honest, don’t have very good communication skills, are not very good at talking to other people, and are usually not very good at sales. But interesting enough, you said like you forced yourself to do sales. And actually when I was in college, I worked in sales. I worked at Sears and I sold furniture. And I think it probably helped me a lot with getting better at talking to people.
Scott Tarcy 14:55
Yeah, you’re absolutely right. So I noticed a big difference between just how I am my person Now if he was at like, you know, the engineering jobs compared to other people, like I was much more of like, not go getters, not the right word, it’s more like, I would break the mold, right? So most people would just fall in line. And I would be like, no, like, this doesn’t make sense. Like, we should do it this way. And I got in a lot of trouble for that. Firstly, basically speaking my mind, and that’s kind of where I was like, I don’t really fit in here. Like, I don’t, I don’t follow the mold that they want us to do. And you know, I’m a fairly outgoing person. But like, it’s different. When you’re selling, you’re selling and marketing. So yeah, that’s something that just said, Okay, I need this skill. And the best way to do it is to take a job, but that’s what I do. So I just made that decision. I mean, I really wanted to work for myself, I really wanted to, you know, and the benefits are in yourself, mostly for me, is controlling my time, like, I don’t like being told I’m going to be sitting in a cubicle from eight to five, like, that was honestly the number one motivator for me to get out. I just, I don’t mind working, I don’t mind. Especially doing design work. I don’t like the meetings part, like all that stuff, like sitting. But in stupid paperwork, which I always had to do. But I’ve always liked it. I don’t mind working, but I want to be able to go and travel and do things during the day, and just whatever. And that was the biggest motivator. So I was just gonna do whatever it took. And I had a pretty good feeling. Taking a sales job and learning that was a big step towards it. So I just did what had to be done. But I think most engineers aren’t going to have that skill set right off the bat. Because there’s just zero training in college.
Matt Watson 16:38
And we don’t really, really, really do that many team projects, usually our personality type. It’s usually they were like loners that like to sit in front of the computer and like to grind it out.
Scott Tarcy 16:41
And I still do that because I like it. But you have to have the other signs of being an entrepreneur, like if you can’t pick up the phone and call somebody, and like, talk to them and like listen to the issue. So you can, you know, do the job and give him a quote, then you just never gonna make it like that’s one thing, too is like, anytime I get a, I have a couple websites, or the people come to me directly, like I try to call them anytime I can over email, like, I’ll email first. But as soon as I have a minute, like five minutes free, I’m going to call them because there’s just something about talking to somebody on the phone versus email that’s just going to help you land that job so much higher.
Matt Watson 17:17
So why do you think that engineers make good entrepreneurs?
Scott Tarcy 17:22
Yeah, so basically, on the flip side of that, I think it’s the creativity, because an entrepreneur, like it’s not, you know, it’s not like you just show up at work and get paid. And that’s all you have to do. Like, sometimes things aren’t gonna go. Your well, like, for example, like I talked about earlier was like multiple revenue streams, right? Like, like, design worked out real slow a couple of times over the years. And I’d like to get creative. And I said, Okay, well, what can I do as another revenue source to take up this gap? And that’s where I said, I use 3D printers to make products. And I just feel like, like, engineers think that way, right? We’re problem solvers. Yeah, that’s all the problem, and I was able to figure out a solution to it.
Matt Watson 18:05
Well, and I feel like especially in early stage startups, there’s always a lot of problems, a lot of unknowns, a lot of things to figure out. And you need people that have that in their DNA, they’re just good problem solvers. And they’re willing to, you know, jump in and build wings, right? Like, that’s, you just have to figure it out as you go. But some people can not handle that scenario, right? They need to know where they’re going, when they’re going. They need to organize all that.
Scott Tarcy 18:29
My wife is exactly like that, like she couldn’t ever do what I’m doing, like she needs someone to tell her this is what you’re doing. Now. This is the task. This is where you’re going to be like, it could not be more 180 from me, yes. Which is, again, why I’d never fit into the corporate world . If I saw a better way of doing something, I would want to do it that way. And I would be told by a lot of the bosses that it was like, No, you have to do it our way. Even I have no reason behind it other than we’ve always done it that way. And that drove me crazy. I said no well and proficiently and you don’t listen to me. You know?
Matt Watson 19:02
Well, and then it’s companies scale, they need that opposite, right? They need people to just like to fall in line and do what they’re told and carry.
Scott Tarcy 19:09
Yeah, there are people out there like that. Yeah. And if you’re hiring for that position, like that’s something that’s super important to pay attention to. If you get a guy like me, if you have a job like that, where it’s somebody who just needs to follow the directions and not do anything creative, I guess you would say, yeah, you need a person who wants to do that, or whatever, because otherwise they’re gonna be getting happy and they’re gonna they’re gonna leave. And then you got to rehire somebody else right for that position. So yeah, I think personality wise is a big part of like, what job you’re going to do or not do, right.
Matt Watson 19:41
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Scott Tarcy 20:07
Good question. I mean, trying to expand upon that, you know, maybe just the training, and just the world, right? So like, if you’re an engineer, you do a lot of science, right? You don’t understand how the world works. So just being super realistic with things maybe helps a lot. You know, you don’t try things that are too crazy, I suppose, versus somebody that maybe doesn’t have that kind of background. They might try to create things that are just impossible. And so you know, wasted waste time creating impossible things versus somebody who’s like, Okay, well, I know that Newton’s first law is, you know, whatever, whatever it is, I should know, it’s like you don’t you know, you have a good place to start from, it’s a little easier to get your product design develops, starting from that standpoint, because you got a good background in it?
Matt Watson 20:58
Well, I think one of the keys there is you’re an investor, right? Like, for a lot of things, it takes an inventor to come up with some crazy idea, whatever it is, solve a problem that nobody’s ever solved before, look at it in a different way. And then be able to build a business around it. And maybe some engineers are great at figuring out things like the patent or the thing or the design, maybe maybe they’re maybe some of them aren’t as great as building the business around it. But they, you know, they can be the wizard behind the curtain that, you know, is coming up with crazy ideas.
Scott Tarcy 21:31
Yeah, and so that is kind of a difference. It’s like you can have, you can be an inventor, you could be an engineer, could be both. You could be a business owner, but not being an engineer, like there’s different things. And it kind of comes down to what you want to do. Like some people go on Shark Tank, they just want to license it. And I wouldn’t mind that personally, like, the part I really like is the design part. Now, I don’t have those kinds of connections. So sometimes I just got to do the marketing myself. And I started to learn to appreciate it more the last few years. I’ve learned a lot more about the marketing side, like SEO, how important that is. And I’ve just taught myself a lot. I mean, everything in the world is a great quote. I heard from a guy that everything in the world is explained on YouTube, like if you need to learn it, you go to YouTube. I learned everything about SEO, because my website wasn’t doing well. It wasn’t ranking, it wasn’t getting a lot of leads, and actually hired a guy marketing company, and they screwed up the whole thing. Like everything they did was wrong. I was like, I should have just done this myself a year ago. And I went and fixed everything in the last two weeks.
Matt Watson 22:30
And why don’t we pay $25,000 a year for college now?
Scott Tarcy 22:35
Right? I mean, I’ll be honest, like, I don’t understand, at this point, like, it is what it is, at this point. I don’t regret going to college, like I paid off my loans. It’s all done. But knowing what I know now, leaving high school, I probably would have done like a trade school man, I would have had money being an electrician, and just started a business like that. And like once you get established, hire other electricians to do all the work. And just, I mean, just automate as much as you can. And like, yeah, if you got to fill in for a job one day, it’s fine. But like, there’s so much demand for that kind of stuff, because so few people are doing it. But as you know, hindsight is 2020. I didn’t know that when I was 18 years old. Everyone said my dad said go to college, or once I go to college said okay, I’ll go to college. But knowing what I know now, yeah, I mean, incurring all that debt and everything. Yes, I learned a lot in school, but I use 10% of it at this point. I mean, all the calculus, I did all this other stuff, like I don’t use it anymore at all. And so while I appreciate, you know, going through it and or other people that have it’s very few jobs, like unless you go be a professor, or you’re doing like, you know, some kind of weird, like R&D, it’s like NASA, or something like a lot of this kind of math that I went through wasn’t really necessary.
Matt Watson 23:49
Yeah, you know, some of it is academic. And so the same thing on the software side, you have a lot of people that will go to college for computer science. And like 90% of software developers don’t need to learn a lot of the shit that they teach would teach you in computer science, because a lot of its low level programming stuff or theory and things like that. But actually on the job these days, the tools that we have available to write software make it so easy that like 90% of all those problems are abstracted away, like I don’t need how to I don’t need to know how to write a bubble sort algorithm. I just like one line of code dot sort. I’m done. Like, there are frameworks for this. Like I don’t really need to know how it works under the covers.
Scott Tarcy 24:27
Right exactly. Like I’ve done. I’ve learned a little bit of coding myself just like I control an Arduino using a little bit of coding. And it’s like, it’s all online. Like you just Google I need this little thing. And it’s just like, it’s more about knowing what you need. And then you just Google it and you just copy paste. Like there are CAD files on websites where it’s like, I don’t necessarily need to go design this thing. I can download a model and just modify it. Same with what you’re doing like with the code like you don’t necessary. Now I will say that. Even if you can do that you still have to have the skill set to know how to modify it and know what you needed in the first place. Which means you almost need to start at the very beginning at least once building all those things so that you can appreciate slash and understand how it was done at least a little bit. Then after that, yeah, just download it every time. But I think knowing I think having that little bit of background makes a big difference, it makes you a lot more dangerous. Like as a designer, no matter if it’s software or mechanical stuff.
Matt Watson 25:26
I think one of the other problems that engineers have in regards to being an entrepreneur, is we tend to be tinkerers, and we tinker with the product a lot. And it’s easy, especially on the software side, to spend forever optimizing the software. We’re tinkering with something that you never get it to market like you never sell it.
Scott Tarcy 25:47
You have to be careful. Absolutely, you have to be careful that I have a client, and I appreciate him hiring me every month. But he has been working on this exercise wheel for forever. He started with somebody before me, I mean, I must have changed something on this exercise, we’ll, let’s say that we added like a grip on it. And like it’s one of those ads, we’ll kind of like a spin on that. And we’ll add some grip texture to it, then literally, the next iteration will remove it. And then two iterations later, we’ll put it back on like, he’s just going in circles with this thing. And he’s been and he’s been working on it for I mean, it’s, it’s never going to be 100%. That doesn’t even matter. It doesn’t even really matter that much. That’s even matter. Yeah, who cares? Who knows if the customer even wants it. Like, I read a book about this The Lean Startup. This is really important for people to listen, like if you’re an investor, or you want to create something, get your minimum viable product, just get the lowest level thing that even somewhat works, and get it out there. Because then you’re going to learn really quickly, like what people want, what they don’t want, you can make a few more changes, and then you’re done. And you start making money versus spending money forever. And that’s what people do, like some people are just so perfectionist. And that is a downside of being an engineer, is that too many engineers want to be perfectionists, like the math has to be perfect. This file has to be perfect. It’s like no, it doesn’t. It’s the 8020 rule. Like you live in the real world long enough. And you learned that 80% is good enough. Right?
Matt Watson 27:13
Well, and the last 20% takes 80% of the time also to build, the 80-20 rule applies all the time, just saw the 80-20 rule, right?
Scott Tarcy 27:17
When you’re 80% there, you’re done. And you move on to the next slide. Because that extra 20% is not worth chasing. Yeah. But yeah, a lot of inventors and engineers make this mistake, because they just want to be perfectionists. And if it’s for a personal hobby, or whatever, I mean, that’s fine. It’s whatever you want to do. But if you want to create a sustainable business, that is not the way to go about it, because you’re just gonna, you’re gonna spend so much time down in the weeds. And you could have moved on to other bigger, better things at that point.
Matt Watson 27:49
So when starting a business, if you’re an engineer, how important do you think it is for an engineering personality type to have other founders, that how balance balances sound like somebody who’s really good at sales or operations, because those aren’t necessarily our personality?
Scott Tarcy 28:05
Yeah, I’ve never really thought too much. I mean, for me personally, I like being just a single person. I’m incorporated as a single member LLC, right. So I’m the only employee. Now yes, I have contractors, I’ve got five guys that do CAD for me, you know, many implementations, guys, five people around the world that do CAD for me, because the only way to scale is to have other people like when I land too many jobs that I can do myself or that I want to do. I have them do it, right, I have a virtual assistant who helps me out. But at the end of the day, I’m the single owner, right, so all the top level decisions I get to make. And I definitely don’t micromanage, because that’s again, almost like the perfectionist thing. If you micromanage these people working for you every nitpick every little thing, you would have faster just to do it yourself. So I give them basic blueprints, and give them pretty good leeway on how to do the design work. And I would check it over. But once they’ve done a few projects for me, they get pretty good at it. So the five people that I have now doing CAD work, you know, I’ve had to hire and fire a few. We’ve got a, like a perfectly efficient system working where I can set up the Dropbox folder and say, here’s what we’re making, you know, here’s generally how I want it done. And boom, they knock it out. And so, you know, from that standpoint, I’ve been able to free up enough of my time so I can personally do the sales, I can manage a lot of things, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing. If you want to partner with somebody, and then you only focus on your thing but then any time you partner with somebody you’re going to have some, some has its own probable arguments, you know, I’ve got a friend who does. Woodworking he does is small, something small batch carpentry. I live in Charlotte, a small batch country, carpentry Charlotte or something. And he just split up with his partner because basically this guy Preston, he wants to he loves it so much that he wants to work 80 hours a week. All right. And the Other Guy, they both were physically building, they had a couple helpers, but they were the business owners. And they both were working on building the furniture. I mean, the number one task was getting it actually made. I think they both did a little bit of sales, but they got so many referrals, they don’t need to do much sales like it’s word of mouth, giving them constant work. But the other guy had two kids and couldn’t, would not work weekends. And so then it got into a big argument over how the money should be split, because Presto is putting in more hours and the other guy just can’t do it, like his wife is not gonna let them go away all weekend to work on the woods. So they actually split up because this is just too much of a deal for them, or like how they were because they were splitting everything 50. But Preston was getting mad, that he wasn’t getting more when he was doing a lot more work. You know, who knows how they discussed it upfront about the hours and how they would do it. But at the end of the day, they know this was a fundamental problem for them. And so this is kind of the downside of being, having business partners is always a problem.
Matt Watson 30:51
I’ve had a lot of business partners, and they’ve almost always been a big problem for one reason or another.
Scott Tarcy 30:58
Yeah, so I feel like a hard model to make work unless you and the guy are like, super on page. But even then I would want everything in writing. Yeah, whatever these are going to be because it once you add one person beyond yourself.
Matt Watson 31:13
Then I feel like on the the software side, if you’re trying to create a SaaS business, if you’re a first time entrepreneur, and you’re more of a software engineering type person, I feel like you almost have to have a co founder, and definitely not another co-founder, that’s also a software engineer like that’s it’s even worse idea. I feel like you gotta have somebody that can help with the sales, sales and operational side of it, because most software engineers are just terrible at all of it. And they need somebody else to help balance them out from an executive perspective. And, you know, being able to run the business and figure things out. And even though I didn’t have the greatest business partners in the past, I’m sure what I was doing would not have been successful without them.
Scott Tarcy 31:54
So if your current company is your current company, are you just you or do you have a business because you know, you’re the engineering side, you’re doing it all yourself now that you because this is.
Matt Watson 32:05
So our company Full Scale me and another gentleman, I own it, and he runs the business. He’s the CEO, I’m actually not part of the day-to -day part of it. So he runs it. But his background is more in sales. Yeah, sales marketing. But when my first business side started, the other guy was more of a salesperson. And so you know, he’ll bring the first customers and I built the product and whatever. And you know, we had some differences down the road. As you mentioned earlier, he just gave some other examples. But yeah, I mean, it’s it, but I would not, especially at that time, I was like, say 2122 years old, when I started that company, like, it would have been hard for me to like, go around to random car dealerships and try and sell software to them or whatever. And he had the relationships and you know, yeah, so that made a lot of sense.
Scott Tarcy 32:55
I mean, I wasn’t. I was like 33. I was maybe 32 when I started this, so I had a lot of, let’s say, real world experience, right, working with people of all different types, like working for big companies. You know, like I said, I hadn’t done sales, but when I started working that sales job, that kind of really made me a lot more comfortable with the whole selling side of things. And so maybe just because of where I wasn’t like it worked out, and but I’m also the type of person where I’m pretty open minded. Like I think a lot of engineers are stubborn, and they don’t want to listen to other people to take advice. And that’s just not me. And I think just because having that attitude enables me to like expanding a different skill set, and just being able to do everything I need to do.
Matt Watson 33:45
I would say on the software side, I definitely run into software engineers where they think it’s more art, like some of the worst software engineers I’ve ever worked with are some of the actual absolute smartest, they just were so hung up about writing, like the world’s perfect code. And it being like some art form to them, where it’s not like a customer doesn’t give a shit what programming languages are and how it works. Like they don’t care how the sausage is made, right? They don’t care about any of it. And some people just are terrible perfectionists and to their own downfall.
Scott Tarcy 34:17
Yeah, and if that’s you, you’ve got to.
Matt Watson 34:21
You can’t run a business.
Scott Tarcy 34:22
Yeah, you got to be an entrepreneur, you’re gonna have to find somebody who’s willing to go with it with you, and they’re gonna handle that. I agree with you there if you can’t, if you can’t, if you’re that way, and you gotta be this perfectionist type, you’re not going to have somebody else there.
Matt Watson 34:39
So I want to ask you about so obviously, 3D printers have been all the rage over the last few years. How would you say that in 2022? Are they still not as popular as they were? The first wave of it is kind of over, and you know, obviously there’s still a lot of uses for them. But like, you know, just kind of curious what your take on the 3D market?
Scott Tarcy 35:01
Actually, 3D printing has been around since the 80s. What made all the news and like 2012 ish, I think it was, it was the patent ran out. So really, that’s all that happened. You couldn’t, you couldn’t really buy a 3D printer unless you bought it from Stratasys, which was out of the rat range of everybody because it was like $50,000 in machine for rapidly expiring, changing everything. And oh, she made a lot of what I do now possible. I mean, between the internet and the patent expiring, I don’t know if I could do what I do right now, I could not do what I’m doing right now, this type of career would not be possible prior to those two things. The Internet’s obviously a little older than the patent expiring, but you know, being able to get work from wherever in the world I need to get it from and being able to have a portable 3D printer. So really, that was what changed it. So yeah, there was a lot of rage about that. Because yeah, now all this competition came up, and you could buy a printer for under $1,000. And that was a big deal. All that being said, I think it’s still very prevalent and tons of people do it. There’s always new machines, new technology, I mean, the technology of FDM 3D printing, which is what most people know about what plastic wire gets pulled through and melted, that can only be improved so much further. Like there’s new sensors that detect if something came off the bed, like there’s certain things like that, that will keep getting better. But like the basic technology, and the speed of it, is basically going to stay the same, there’s really no way you can print faster, at least from the science and everything I understand much more than you do now. So it’s like, that’s why I have seven printers. Because if things get really in demand, and some of the products are selling like crazy, like one of my products is like Ludham inches tall, it takes seven hours to print, I’ve optimized everything to get it to that fast, it’s never gonna be faster than that without the quality dropping. So I need an extra two or three machines to get a couple done a day, depending on how many are selling. And that’s just the side of it. That’s not going to change. But there’s other types of technology like the SLA with a laser. And there are other types that are becoming much more affordable all the time. And I have an SLA machine, the forum too, but there are even cheaper ones. And that now fills up like over in China.
Matt Watson 37:08
So if I wanted to buy a 3D printer, what for I don’t know just to print like goofy things for my kids or whatever, just like jacking around with what kind of 3D printer would you recommend?
Scott Tarcy 37:19
So of all the ones I have, the Ultimaker two is the best. Now it wasn’t the cheapest, it was about 2000. And that’s an old model. I don’t know if you can find a name that’s expensive. Yeah, but it was built with really good parts. So all these 3D printers that are built with 3D printed parts, it sounds good in theory, but 3D printed parts just aren’t that strong. The Ultimaker two was built with injection molded parts. And so they’re very durable. And it’s just worth it to not have to go in and replace all these pieces that break on the cheaper printers like that’s what’s really annoying to me, like I bought a couple of printers, the CReality CR printers, the CR or the CR, Cr 10, s four and S five, like, they were only like six or $700. But man, I mean, like usually what I do, like when I get these is like I joined the Facebook group, because that’s where everybody’s talking about. And if you have a problem, there’s somebody who’s had it before you and they can answer it. And like the number of parts that people are like when you buy a quality printer or replace all these things. It’s like half the printer, you got to replace it the day you buy it. I’m like, I don’t have time for this, like, machines to create revenue, not waste my time.
Matt Watson 38:29
Yeah, so I mean, what about the guy with me, like me, though? I mean, I’m not trying to start my own Etsy store. I’m just trying to print some goofy crap with my kids.
Scott Tarcy 38:36
So alright, so the question is, how much time do you want to spend fixing the machine? If you do that, and you want to spend tons of time, buy the cheapest machine and save a buck, but you will have to spend tons of time fixing it. If you don’t want to do that, then you got I mean, I can give you plenty of advice about it. Because there are tons of more machines I’ve never used, but from the ones I have used, the most expensive are not necessarily the most reliable. I have a res Pro two plus and that thing hasn’t worked in six months. Now. I probably could if I spend the next five hours figuring it out. But I don’t. I have other machines that get stuff done. So I haven’t bothered with it. But it was a $6,000 machine. And it has not been as reliable as I had hoped.
Matt Watson 39:22
So I’m curious about your CAD design business. So a lot of your clients try and do this stuff themselves and try and print stuff themselves and then figure out like, it’s just way too complicated. Yeah, that happens a lot.
Scott Tarcy 39:34
Oh, you’d have people go and get like crappy online CAD programs that aren’t very good. And they’ll make stuff, but then they’ll be like a manufacturer can’t use this file. And I’m like, yeah, that program can’t export the file it needs. Yeah, unfortunately. Or it wasn’t designed correctly for manufacturing. Like I mean, people I mean, people like that are generally easier for me to work for because at least they’ve already put some thought into it and they’ve created something. And they’re more motivated. Just the fact that you were willing to at least try shows that you’re pretty serious about it. So I get some of those, but there are plenty of people that just give me napkin sketches, which is fine too. The only thing I can’t do is I can’t design something if they don’t give me any kind of visual, like, if you just write like, unless it’s like literally a rectangle or a block. But outside of stuff like that, like when people write like a paragraph, describe it, I’m like, it’s really hard for me to know what this thing is doing, you know, go to Google Images and send me a couple things, you know, no matter what you’re making, there’s always something kind of close, it will say, hey, it’s like this thing except for that. And that, like, helps the most.
Matt Watson 40:41
And it’s no different in software, right? Like, I have no problem with like, beg, borrow and steal from other people’s designs and their inspirations and improve on them or whatever, right. Like that’s just human nature.
Scott Tarcy 40:53
That’s just how it’s the easiest way to do it. Like why? Why make it harder than it has to be? Yeah, absolutely. You know, I had this guy that he wanted, like, a coffee maker, and it’s like, he did it exactly how I would have done it. He’s like, he’s like, here’s an existing coffee maker. But I don’t like these things about it. Here’s what we’re changing. Yeah, we’ll change the look a little bit. So it doesn’t seem like it could have a complete rip-off. But, like, that explained it perfectly to me and said, Okay, you want to be, you want the little coffee filter area to be a little deeper and not as wide, okay, like, like, like super straightforward stuff. And like those, the projects are the easiest because, like, I don’t have to go back and forth as I know exactly what to do.
Matt Watson 41:33
Well, I think this has been a great episode talking about engineers and engineers, how our personality types can be good or bad entrepreneurs at times. But if you need to hire software engineers, let Full Scale help. We have the people and the platform to help you build and manage a team of experts. When you visit FullScale.io, all you need to do is answer a few questions and let our platform match you up with our fully vetted, highly experienced engineering team. At Full Scale, we specialize in building long-term teams that work only for you to learn more when you visit FullScale.io. So I think this has been a fun episode for those who are thinking about doing some sort of 3D design and need this kind of help. Tell us a little more about how they can reach out to you.
Scott Tarcy 42:14
Yeah, absolutely. My website is CADdesignhelp.com. My email is info@CADdesignhelp.com. And, you know, before we sign off, I want to tell everybody. I’ve been asked by a lot of other engineers how I created this business? Like literally what we talked about. And I actually created an online course, going step-by-step of the details of what I’ve done that I think can apply to other mechanical engineers, or any type of engineer that wants to start a business. And really get them going and skip a lot of mistakes I made along the way. And so this course is under engineering printerschool.thinkific.com, which is the dot thinkific. Part of the main reason is the platform I used to create the course. Okay, now I’ll send you the link, so people don’t have to try to remember all that. They can just click on it.
Matt Watson 43:03
I will try to put it in the show notes. Yeah, awesome. Well, thank you so much for being on the show today.
Scott Tarcy 43:09
Absolutely. Matt, thanks for having me, and catch you later.
Matt Watson 43:12
All right. Take care.