Start-up of the day: individual eyewear design by 3D-printing process
Glasses have been around since the early Middle Ages. While they were worn as an optical aid in the past, today they are increasingly used as a fashion accessory. And although every face, every head shape has its own individual characteristics, until now glasses have only ever been mass-produced. But if the glasses don’t match the face, they are rather unattractive and seem to be a disturbing factor. In order to create a harmonious entity here, four young experts developed an individual eyewear design and created it using state-of-the-art 3D printing techniques. We spoke with Daniel Miko and Sebastian Zenetti, two of the four founders, about the origins and visions of their start-up You Mawo.
left to right: Daniel Szabo, Founder & Finance; Sebastian Zenetti, Master optician, Founder & Managing Director;
Stephan Grotz, Founder & CTO; Daniel Miko, Master optician, Founder & Head of Design ©You Mawo
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA OF FOUNDING YOU MAWO?
Daniel Miko: The name already bares part of the story: You Mawo stands for your magic world. The idea for this came about during one of the many backpack trips that we undertook as a group of friends, more precisely: on a beach in Thailand. We generally questioned what drives us and were fascinated by how different the world, its cultures, and faces are. Due to our profession it was obvious to consider that this variety of facial forms suggests the necessity of individual eyeglass frames, but this has only played a small role in the eyeglass industry so far. Moving away from mass-produced goods towards individual glasses – that seemed to be a trend-setter to us.
WHERE DO YOU SEE SPECIALIZED APPLICATIONS OF PERSONALIZED GLASSES GOING?
Sebastian Zenetti: The field of application is very large. Glasses are a constant companion in everyday life. On average, spectacle wearers wear their glasses for at least 16 hours a day. It is therefore very important that they fit perfectly. Both with regard to the general size of the glasses and their temple length, as well as with regard to the fit of the ‘respective’ nose or its corresponding contact surface. The anatomy of each person is different. All the basic models in our ready-to-wear collection, on which custom-made eyewear are based, have already been optimized through the analysis of thousands of faces and thus offer the perfect starting point.
WHAT MAKES YOUR GLASSES SPECIAL COMPARED TO OTHER PRODUCTS?
Daniel Miko/Sebastian Zenetti: Our glasses are extremely light, anti-allergenic, very break-proof, made in Germany and, in addition, “fast forward”, so produced with the very latest manufacturing technology. The excess powder generated in the 3D printing process is also recycled so that there is hardly any waste material.
WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST HURDLE YOU HAD TO OVERCOME IN THE BEGINNING?
Sebastian Zenetti: At first we thought that it would be difficult to convince the opticians of the new material and the still unknown production method. But it worked really well. The optician market is usually a bit more conservative, yet the opticians immediately liked the concept. Our concept hit the ground running and what nobody expected happened: You Mawo was completely sold out right after our first appearance at a fair.
WAS THERE A MOMENT WHEN YOU WANTED TO GIVE UP?
Sebastian Zenetti: ‘No, that moment just hasn’t happened so far. Even though we’re always faced with obstacles, there’s never been any thought of giving up. We are very different types within the founding team. That’s probably an advantage, because we are able to motivate each other very well and drive each other to do the best we can.
AND VICE VERSA: WHAT WAS THE BEST MOMENT FOR YOU WITH REGARD TO THE FOUNDATION, WHAT MADE YOU PARTICULARLY PROUD?
Daniel Miko: There have been a few steps and milestones that we are really proud of. In the first year we won the German Design Award for our Denali model. In the show “Hidden Champions” hosted by NTV, we managed to take second place. Last year we won the “German Innovations Award” and two weeks ago, the team from Pro Sieben visited us to shoot an item for the show Galileo. That was really very interesting.
WHAT CAN WE LOOK FORWARD TO IN THE NEXT YEARS, IN OTHER WORDS: WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM YOU IN THE COMING YEARS?
Daniel Miko: We are constantly working in order to be innovative. I think we can already tell that we will be presenting some great new products at the trade fairs. Among them are some surprises that you haven’t seen from You Mawo before and that you probably will not be expecting.
WHAT DRIVES YOU EVERY MORNING?
Sebastian Zenetti/Daniel Miko: In one sentence: the joy of being part of You Mawo’s history and simply having fun with the work and development of the company.
WHAT IS YOUR VISION: WHERE DO YOU SEE YOUR COMPANY IN 5 YEARS AND WHAT IS YOUR ULTIMATE GOAL?
Both: It’s hard to filter out an ultimate goal. We want to go even further into our super technology, including decentralized production. To be able to produce perfect custom eyewear even faster and more location-independent is a challenge along with many other subject matters.