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Fractory.co – the digital industrial revolution from Tartu

Martin Vares, the CEO and co-founder of Fractory.co, is a mechanical engineer by trade. In 2011, he went on to study mechanical engineering at Tallinn University of Technology. He started working in the industry after his second year of studies and worked for a few different companies where his main task was to develop products. This experience led him towards a problem we are solving today.

What is Fractory.co?

Fractory.co is an on-demand platform for engineers looking to manufacture their products. Customers can upload their sheet metal product drawings, get instant price quotations and lead times to order production. We have partnered with a number of manufacturers all over the Baltics and Nordic countries, so we know where to get the shortest lead times, best quality and suitable price.

How did your previous job experience lead you toward this?

One of my duties was also setting up manufacturing whenever we did not have the required machinery for the job. So I had to outsource it. This task was mind-numbing. It was long, involving back and forth e-mails and phone calls. All because I did not have the information about the manufacturers` availability and capabilities. The tube connecting companies was missing. So, I sat down with my co-founders Joosep and Rein and we discussed this problem. We decided to make a marketplace that connects the designers with the manufacturers to reduce the amount of wasted time. Now Fractory.co holds all the information about the manufacturers and we can do the outsourcing ourselves. Customers can see the value we add – they can get an order confirmed in less than a minute.

How many people have seen the value so far?

The number of unique clients is around 400. We have had orders from all over the world – Australia, the US, the UK etc. We have firmly established ourselves in the Baltics and Nordic regions. Now we are setting our sights towards markets farther away – the UK and Germany. We want orders from those countries to make up at least 50% of all orders in 6 months-time. After that, we are going for the world.

Why is your office in Tartu, not Tallinn?

To be fair, it is mostly because the founding team is from Tartu. You could say it is easier to focus on real work here. Tartu is also a very efficient city to live in, it has everything in a tiny footprint.

What about finding new employees? Are they willing to come and work in a small city?

We have put together an awesome team of 9 people. Half of them are engineers with manufacturing backgrounds and they really felt the problem. They didn’t need much convincing. Every one of them believes in what we do and really wants to be part of the impact. So that has been enough to convince them to move from the capital. In all honesty, I would say our location can also act as a filter. We can find people who actually understand what we are trying to achieve. There are no superficial incentives to work here. We have a Brazilian working for us as well. He loved the idea from the first look and it did not really matter that he would have to come to cold and small Tartu.

Any words of advice for future entrepreneurs?

Do not be afraid of failing. We have failed with so many things, it is hard to keep count. In the end, it does not matter, if you keep going and surround yourself with bright people. You just have to learn from these mistakes. In the beginning, we were close to bankruptcy a few times. Things like that must not lower your head but turn it a little, to see a new angle. We always managed to find a way out. This, of course, comes down to the team. Our people are not focused on the monetary side in startups. We are oriented towards offering a good service. Everything else will just follow.

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