Daniel Cowen (Class of 1999) CEO & Co-Founder, 3Doodler
CEO & Co-Founder, 3Doodler
How did CLS get you ready for the world of work?
There’s something magical about going to school in the heart of the City. For me, one of the side effects of that was an eagerness to actually be a part of the hubbub that we saw around us every day. Being so proximate to the working world also meant the transition out of education didn’t seem that alien. Beyond location, CLS was always focussed on nurturing well-rounded, street-smart students. The emphasis wasn’t on grades or a cookie-cutter output - it was about the experience itself, the people around you, and being adaptable. I cannot think of three traits more important to the world of work than those.
What was your first job?
Other than a short stint selling pots and pans at a store on Marylebone High Street, my first job was as a Trainee Solicitor at Slaughter and May.
Your biggest professional achievement?
In 2012, after leaving the law, my business partner and I set about planning the launch of 3Doodler, the world’s first 3D printing pen. We launched in February 2013, becoming one of the best-funded Kickstarter projects at the time. Seven years later we have built an entire product category from scratch, shipped over two million pens, and have won a tender to supply New York's school system with 3D pens. If I had to choose one moment from my time at 3Doodler, it would be our work with RNIB in 2017, which resulted in us adapting our pens for use by the blind, and seeing a blind student write and then feel their name for the first time.
Your most challenging professional moment?
In mid-2018 a combination of events (not all in our control) left our company in a tough spot. We’d ridden an incredible wave until then, but changes were needed in terms of our focus and team to make sure we would continue to flourish. We had to lay off 25% of our team, and as CEO it was on me to make difficult decisions about the future of colleagues who I had worked with for years. Equally challenging was making sure the remaining team stayed intact and motivated after the shock of a mass layoff, and that they felt confident in the vision we had mapped out while we worked to achieve it.
What inspires and motivates you at work?
Beyond the buzz of creating new products, I get a kick from the less visible side of running a business. It’s these areas where I can have the most influence, and see seedlings of ideas come to life. This can include anything from developing individual team members, rethinking large parts of our supply chain, through to the planning and research we engage in before releasing new products to market.
One piece of advice for pupils and other Old Citizens about getting into your profession?”
Career change and entrepreneurship can be terrifying. When I left law to start my own business there was a real sense of trepidation and a lot of pressure. But as the company moved from milestone to milestone I soon learned that it’s in those moments where growth and learning happens. My advice to anyone taking the entrepreneurial path is to make sure you don’t lose sight of your achievements, particularly the knowledge gained day to day. That can be hard to do when you’re knee-deep in it. You’ve also got to find good mentors and surround yourself with team members who believe in your vision and can inspire you, even at the hardest moments.
My wife is in the process of starting her own entrepreneurial venture right now, and it’s exciting to see her facing some of the same challenges I did when I started out, knowing exactly how gratifying her journey is going to be.
For more information about 3Doodler visit https://intl.the3doodler.com/
If I had to choose one moment from my time at 3Doodler, it would be our work with RNIB in 2017, which resulted in us adapting our pens for use by the blind, and seeing a blind student write and then feel their name for the first time.