Joel Joseph, 20
Kaushal Saraf, 25
Business: 3D printing
Location: University Park
Financials: $150,000 in revenue, $100,000 in funding
What led you to start this business?
Joel Joseph: The two of us met in a graduate computer science course at USC where we were exposed to a really interesting problem the 3D printing industry was facing. After the course, the two of us thought we could solve it. So, we started a company, built a solution, and worked day and night to make it happen.
How did you fund it, and how are you funding it going forward?
Kaushal Saraf: We started this business as broke college students. With $200 and a lot of hard work, the two of us have been able to grow the company and bring in revenue from our customers. More recently, to help us grow faster, we got an investment from Charles River Ventures.
Are there advantages or disadvantages to starting a business in your 20s?
KS: Being in our 20s means there is still a lot that we don’t know, so there’s definitely a learning curve. But it also means we are constantly growing and questioning why things are done a certain way. That leads us to improve and innovate on things that many people might not even take a second look at because it’s just the way things have been done in the past.
How has the pandemic impacted your business, and how are you responding?
JJ: The pandemic has been a curveball. It’s definitely not something we or anyone else planned for. But it has given us an opportunity to really step up to the plate and lead the effort to help our community.
A great example of this was in the first couple days of the pandemic, when things were starting to shut down, our team was in the middle of the chaos helping the nation figure out if it was technically feasible to print 3D items in short supply, from ventilator parts to nasal swabs used in Covid-19 tests.
Our company was leading the charge by working with the government, top universities and the rest of the private sector. Within a week we were able to work with partners using our technology to get thousands of 3D-printed face shields produced locally and distributed to hospitals at no cost nationwide.
Where do you go for advice regarding your business?
KS: We have an amazing group of advisers who have been a great resource, including Paul Orlando, Michael Rivera and Clifford Neuman who are all professors at USC.
Where do you go for professional services (legal help, accounting, etc.)?
JJ: MiklosCPA is an amazing accounting firm. We highly recommend them.
Does social responsibility play a role in your business?
JJ: One hundred percent. The reason the two of us are really passionate about our work is because we get to see the tangible impact our technology has on people every day.
Not only are we the ones leading the development of the technology as engineers, but we are out in the field with our customers understanding the real-world impact it has, from reducing the environmental footprint of logistics to helping bring manufacturing jobs to local communities.
Do you feel that your business is particularly tailored to the Los Angeles market?
KS: We really think Los Angeles is the best place for us to be. Our customers in the aerospace, defense and maritime industries all have major footprints in the area allowing us to be close to the end-users of our product.
Add in the top-tier local universities and the year-round weather — we can’t imagine being anywhere else at this stage of our company
What do you do for fun?
JJ: I’m a triathlete and an Eagle Scout who loves being outdoors.
KS: I play cricket and enjoy learning new dance styles.
Keep reading the 2020 edition of the 20 in Their 20s special report.