Mike Demarais is an entrepreneur in the Kansas City Startup Village. His company, Handprint, aims to make 3-D printing more consumer friendly through software. Demarais recently relocated his company from Boston to Kansas City.
Who is Mike Demarais?
“I’m a 21-year-old startup founder/Twitter addict/news junkie, extremely excited about the future of the internet, democracy and the next ways software will eat our world. Sometimes I play video games, sometimes I spend hours Google Maps Streetview/Wikipedia-holing in places like rural Brazil or Thailand. You can catch me and my team at Town Topic around 3:30 a.m. like three days a week.
Originally from Boston, I moved to Kansas City a little over a year ago to become the Homes for Hackers’ first hacker. For the last year, my team and I at Handprint have had the unbelievable opportunity of living in the Brad Feld Fiberhouse in the Kansas City Startup Village.”
What does the Handprint do, and what is your role in the organization?
“Handprint is building a web interface for customizing the coolest 3-D printable toys. With Handprint, your kids can design their own toys on their computer and print them out for pennies worth of plastic on your home 3-D printer. Handprint makes kids happy by letting them stay constantly in love with their toys, while saving parents money on trips to the toy store.”
What brought you to work in this field?
“I think I’ve always been a startup kid. Having been a programmer since age 12, I always followed startups instead of sports. After dropping out of school, I got some experience in the business world by starting my own web design firm/IT consulting company, then interning for a growth stage startup in Boston.”
What is the biggest obstacle that you have dealt with while working on Handprint?
“Access to funding. Early stage startups in Kansas City have it rough. To be fair, the ecosystem has gotten significantly better in the last year, but it’s difficult to find angel investors actively investing in early stage tech startups in emerging sectors.”
What is the most exciting part of your work?
“Building really cool stuff with really cool people. A lot of the stuff we are developing is pushing the limits of what is possible with today’s web tech — getting to play around with all the new stuff is really enjoyable. My team and I have all been living/working out of the same house for over a year and are pretty much best friends now. It’s really rewarding working with close peeps.”
What should we expect to see from Handprint in the near future?
“Handprint is going to launch a preview soon! Anybody interested can apply for early access to our Toy Customizer at gethandprint.com. Follow @gethandprint to stay up to date with the latest status of our deployment. We plan on expanding the Handprint Preview’s feature-set weekly, then launch with a more feature-filled app in a few months.”
What do you think the future has in store for the local entrepreneur community?
“Kansas City is blowing up right now. The city is undergoing a cultural renaissance, in which the art, food, music, tech, political and entrepreneurship communities are all feverishly focused on innovation. I think Kansas City is full of opportunities for startups. I’d say Kansas City’s startup community makes the city an unbeatable choice for entrepreneurs looking for a place to start building. I’m a believer in the ‘If you build it, they will come’ philosophy; with further investment in the city’s startup infrastructure, I think KC will rise above the rest become a vital national innovation hub.
I can only imagine what would happen in KC if Ben Barreth opened 20 more Hacker Houses.”