Having started Meka 3D Printing Pte Ltd (mēkā) in May 2013, Shafiq has grown from a new entrant into an entrenched part of the 3D printing ecosystem in Singapore. With no experience whatsoever (he graduated with a degree in Biological Sciences), Shafiq had to learn everything from mechanical and electrical engineering to materials sciences from Google (and youtube).
1. What made you join mēkā?
Well I did not really join mēkā, you could say mēkā joined me. It was in early 2013 where the 3D printing scene was slowly heating up with many patents having expired or expiring soon. I happened to chance upon a video of an early Makerbot cupcake cnc 3D printer and it was mesmerising. So I went out and did some research (by this I mean, Google), and bought a Reprappro Tricolor Mendel. This was one of the craziest things, it was just nuts and bolts, threaded and smooth rods, PCBs and wires. Here I was, coming from a land of pipettes and agar jelly and dropping myself into engineering. But I relished the challenge. I would be in the workspace at 6am and won't leave till midnight or later. It was fun times. Young, energetic and with a devil may care attitude.
(Our first workspace was in Toa Payoh, one of my friends father had a spare room that he loaned to us. My friends started Grain a video production company while I started mēkā.)
And we grew from there. There was a gap with 3D Printing Materials, we filled it with the 3D Printing Materials Store. There was a lack of trustworthy local suppliers of 3D printers, we filled it first with a partnership and then by taking over the distributorship in Singapore for Flashforge 3D Printers. Then we saw the opportunity in the education market and we filled that too. Now we are 3 very clear units catering to 3 very different industries. But our values are the same - Quality, Simplicity and Exploration.
2. What is your favourite part of your job here at mēkā?
Two things I love about starting my own business and about mēkā in particular - freedom and challenge (sometimes, it's the freedom to challenge).
There is an immense amount of freedom around the office. We are comfortable with each other and we know that we have each others backs. We have a very professional yet easy-going understanding with each other. Also there is the freedom that comes with having created a job for myself.
And challenge. Everyday we can come up with new ways to push our own personal boundaries and again because it is a job I created for myself, I can truly explore and push. Whether it is in our daily administration, products that we design or business units that we pursue, challenge is a big part of it. I can honestly say that if it was easy, I would be bored.
3. 3 fun facts about you that you want people to know.
1. I also have a business that builds grave monuments in Singapore. It is a business that I took over and re-named after my grandmother after she passed away. In some ways, I think of it as honouring her and what she has done for our family.
2. I always exceed my mobile data usage - not because of Facebook or Instagram but because of the Flipboard and Bloomberg apps on my phone. I enjoy constantly reading and learning and these two apps are my go-to.
3. I have a strong aversion to social media. But I am trying to engage more with family, friends and make new connections on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. In 2018, and hopefully beyond, I want to share a bit more and engage a lot more.
I am constantly exploring and thinking up new ideas, especially for new business. And I love speaking to different people about it. If you are the same, get in touch!