Christina Perla and Manny Mota are designers at heart. After studying industrial design at Pratt Institute, where they met, they moved right into the field, taking on freelance clients and hoping to fulfill their career dreams.
But they soon discovered dreams can change. The owner of the 3D printing service that Perla and Mota used for their freelance business had a proposal: He wanted them to take over his company. He was moving to China and thought they could best carry on the business. Perla, who always had an “entrepreneurial bug,” and Mota warmed to the idea.
“We initially thought it was going to be a cash-cow business that would support our freelancing design work,” Perla said. “And we thought that by bringing it in-house we could reduce our 3D printing costs.”
That’s how Makelab started, but it’s not how it evolved. After a year of juggling industrial design and 3D printing work, they chose to focus on Makelab full-time.
“Makelab took most of our time, and we enjoyed the process of building a business,” Perla said. “It was something that was working organically and relatively easily. We felt like the universe was pushing us toward Makelab.”