By Andreas Helbig
We have just invested in Laserhub, the digital B2B marketplace for the sheet metal industry, with an initial focus on laser cutting, bending, deburring and coating (Yes, I can finally make use of my industrial engineering degree here!). Customers upload their CAD file to Laserhub, Laserhub processes the data and gives the customer a price for their desired parts, the customer accepts and the order is distributed to a network of suppliers who then fulfil the order.
We at Project A have a thing for B2B marketplaces (e.g. Sennder, Contorion, Helloprint) and for the manufacturing industry (e.g. micropsi). Therefore, it was obvious to us that manufacturing-as-a-service is a space to watch. This is a large and growing market — but hard to crack as the existing supplier-customer-relationships are strong. Only a superior digital offering and an impeccable product quality will convince customers to actually consider a digital solution for their manufacturing outsourcing needs.
With Laserhub, we have found the right startup to back.
- Amazing team: The team is highly complementary and combines industry expertise with digital skills — Adrian worked at Trumpf, Christoph in his family’s business and Jonas is a strong CTO with a deep product focus. These guys are highly convincing in their extremely humble but highly effective way to tackle the industry — the Swabian mentality shines through. 💛🖤
- Market focus: Focussing on sheet metal, an often overlooked and underestimated industry, makes a lot of sense: The market is huge, the digital offerings extremely limited and customers are ready to make the switch to an online offering and stay there. Furthermore, the team comes from the industry and therefore has a headstart towards choosing the right suppliers, materials and manufacturing mode offerings. For us, it was important to have a clear focus towards a specific mode of manufacturing — Laserhub is focussing on sheet metal cutting & bending first. Each manufacturing mode (laser cutting, CNC, injection molding, …) is a separate problem in terms of CAD extraction technology and go-to-market strategy. A (laser) focus in the beginning helps a lot to ensure a high quality standard. 🛠⚙️
- Customer loyalty / perfect timing: This is probably a combination of the favorable market characteristics and the amazing execution of the team — Laserhub’s customers are extremely loyal. Overall, the suppliers are doing very well overall as sheet metal parts are in high demand. This leads to capacity issues — the existing supplier network of a customer is often not able to fulfil all requests. This is the right moment for Laserhub to step in: Customers are looking for a new supplier and they find Laserhub. But Laserhub doesn’t stay the simple one-time quick fix to overcome a supply shortage: As the process and the product quality is highly convincing, customers are actually willing to move a large share of wallet to Laserhub. This can be seen quite impressively in the customer cohorts — Laserhub is becoming a part of the standard supplier network for their customers. 📈🌐
- B2B marketplace expertise: Through backing and operationally supporting companies with similar characteristics, we have grown fond of vertically integrated B2B marketplaces (which are acting as the sole creditor in the eyes of the customers). The company and market characteristics in Laserhub‘s case are highly favorable — and we‘re looking forward to leveraging our operational learnings to support Laserhub‘s journey even further. 👷♀️👷♂️