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The 3D printing industry is comprised of more than just the companies that make 3D printers. Opportunities for substantial revenue growth as industry participants are emerging for companies that are tapping in to the industry’s 5 year projected CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 25-30%. But not all of those who try to capitalize on the industry’s growth will succeed. Making a successful business turn towards the 3D printing industry requires the right management, vision, and business model.
One company that meets each of these requirements for success is Mediabistro Inc. (MBIS). Mediabistro entered the lucrative business-to-business (B2B) conference and exposition slice of the 3D printing industry 6 months ago, and has already emerged as the dominant player in that segment.
Based in New York, NY, Mediabistro has a 14 year history as a successful Internet media company that provides content, education, and career services to social media, traditional media, and creative professionals through a portfolio of online properties, communities, and trade shows.
Early in 2013 the company made a strategic move to enter the B2B trade show segment of the 3D printing industry. With the right management, vision, and business model, Mediabistro leveraged their extensive online marketing and social networking expertise to quickly develop the largest, most publicized, most recognized, and most successful B2B conference and trade show brand in the 3D printing industry.
The early financial impact from Mediabistro’s success within the 3D printing industry appears to be reflected in their most recent financial results. Revenues in the second quarter of 2013 increased by $1.4 million or 57% on a sequential basis and EBITDA net loss was only $108,000 compared to an EBITDA loss of $596,000 during the first quarter of 2013. These improvements were attributed primarily to advertising and trade shows.
CEO Alan Meckler told me: “We believe there is a good chance that the Inside 3D Printing series of trade shows will bring significant top line and bottom line growth for Mediabistro”.
Inside 3D Printing Conference and Expo
The first “Inside 3D Printing Conference and Expo” was held in the Javits Convention Center in New York City in April and was a resounding success. Keynote speakers read like a “Whose Who” in additive manufacturing: Avi Reichental (President and CEO of 3D Systems), Peter Weijmarshausen (CEO and Co-Founder of Shapeways), and Terry Wohlers (Principal Consultant and President of Wohlers Associated Inc).
Some 40 corporate sponsors, exhibitors and media partners including industry leaders 3D Systems, Stratasys, MakerBot and Autodesk paid as much as $22,500 each to make their presentations. It’s important to also understand these expos aren’t free “walk-in” events either. Over 3,000 attendees were at the New York event, some paying as much as $850/person for full access. These are definitely conferences “Where 3D Printing Means Business”.
This 2 minute video highlights the first NYC “Inside 3D Printing Conference and Expo” and the energy and excitement generated by the conference are palpable.
Bre Pettis, co-founder and CEO of MakerBot Industries, summed up the conference, declaring: “This is where the action is”.
Mediabistro is now seizing an early mover advantage in the 3D printing B2B space, holding other successful conferences in Chicago, San Jose, and just last week in Singapore. Upcoming expos are scheduled for Berlin, with a return to NYC, and then Sao Paulo, Brazil. Additional expo dates for Sydney, Australia, Hong Kong, Seoul, Korea and Tokyo, Japan are pending.
Management and Corporate Vision
Companies with the greatest potential to expand into the 3D printing industry in a meaningful way will be led by management that has both the vision to recognize the opportunity and the expertise required for success.
Mediabistro’s CEO Alan Meckler has a history of successfully positioning companies ahead of the curve. In the early and mid 1990s the publicly traded Mecklermedia Corporation he was leading began advertising-supported publishing on the Internet. This was at a time when the business model was just becoming viable. Five years after this Internet launch Mecklermedia Corporation sold for $274 million cash.
I asked Alan Meckler “Why is Mediabistro entering the 3D printing space now?” and he replied:
“Over my career I have launched many successful trade shows covering topics in which a technology is causing a paradigm shift. 3D printing is in fact a paradigm shift in manufacturing and this powerful shift will be the catalyst of huge changes in manufacturing and bring about great business opportunities. While there are several association orientated Additive Manufacturing events, Mediabistro has the only significant series of independent business to business 3D printing trade shows. The brand has caught on and during 2014 we will be running these events in 6 different countries and twice yearly in the USA. We believe there is a good chance that the Inside 3D Printing series of trade shows will bring significant top line and bottom line growth for Mediabistro”.
In my opinion Mediabistro is being led by a CEO that not only recognizes the opportunity ahead, but also has the expertise and experience to continue their early dominance in the 3D printing B2B exposition space.
B2B Trade Show Growth Maximized by 3D Printing Industry Growth
According to a recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) The global B2B trade show market is projected to grow by over 21% to be worth in excess of US$36 billion in 2017, up from US$29.4 billion in 2012. The US, Germany, France, the UK and Japan will be the key growth markets.
Now add Mediabistro’s targeted high growth 3D printing industry (projected CAGR of 25-30% over the next 5 years) trade shows into the model and you have the potential for strong forward growth.
Simple Equation: B2B Trade Show Market Growth + 3D Printing High Growth Niche = Investment Opportunity.
Invest Like Wayne Gretzky Skated
I’m a big hockey fan. The legendary hockey player Wayne Gretzky once said: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been”, and I like to invest like Wayne skated. Some of the best opportunities in 3D printing stocks right now are with companies that are making a significant and verifiable move into the space, are recognized by industry leaders as being a player, but yet aren’t known by investors as even being a part of the action.
I believe Mediabistro is a “Wayne Gretzky” stock in the 3D printing space. This is a company that has an early mover advantage in their supportive role for the industry and management that has the vision and past experience necessary to seize the opportunity ahead.
Disclosure: I am long shares of Mediabistro Inc. (MBIS) and received a professional services fee of $10,000 from Mediabistro's management for this article.
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Gary Anderson........Follow me on Twitter: @3DPrintingStock