My MIX Lab Journey
I first discovered the MIX Lab, a 3D Printing innovative hub situated in the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship, when I was a graduate student at Montclair State University working towards my MBA degree. As an aspiring entrepreneur and tech enthusiast, I immediately became immersed and found myself spending more of my free time absorbing as much knowledge as I could from all the helpful 3D Printing techs and directors.
Thanks to their guidance, it wasn’t long before I started becoming adept at designing and 3D printing on my own. Shortly after, I took on a leadership position at the newly formed 3D Printing Club and helped teach the 3D Printing CAD design programs to its members. Around the same time, I was frequently visiting a family member at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NYC. It was heartbreaking to see all of the young cancer patients when I would walk past the pediatric oncology section of MSK and so I decided to combine my passion for 3D Printing with my desire to help cheer up these pediatric patients by 3D printing various motivational toys for them. I recruited some members from the club to help out and we successfully designed, printed, and delivered the items to the hospital. It was very well received.
I continued these initiatives on my own and after a few more well-received volunteer initiatives at major hospitals, I decided to add my business expertise and my psychology background into the mix. In addition to motivational toys, I started designing and 3D Printing desensitization toys for kids stuck in hospitals to help alleviate their medical phobias to their feared objects. I would then teach the staff how to use habituation with these friendly custom-designed versions of MRI Machines, CT Scan machine, Operating Rooms, X-Ray machines, etc. to ease the kids into the procedures they needed to undergo but were too afraid to do so. These initiatives caught on in multiple states and after a very rewarding experience at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital I decided it was time to make it official and thus HEAL3D Benefit Corporation was born.
HEAL3D was the first corporation I had created on my own and since I’ve always been an aspiring entrepreneur it was extremely exciting, but at the same time stressful. Both of the directors at the MIX Lab, Jason Frasca and Iain Kerr, were super helpful from both a motivational standpoint and an educational assistance standpoint. I would love absorbing wisdom and gaining inspiration from the other innovators working on their projects there as well as the very knowledgeable 3D Printing techs like Josh Miller and Altarik Banks among others whom I’m proud to call my friends today.
What I especially appreciate about the MIX Lab is that regardless who walks through their doors, whether it be a seasoned business professional or a student discovering the concept of 3D Printing for the first time, everyone is treated with the same level of importance and respect.
Most entrepreneurship / tech centers I’ve previously visited focus mainly on the planning and the brainstorming, but the MIX Lab promotes ‘doing’ as well. I’ve seen many entrepreneurs suffer from paralysis by analysis and although it’s important to do your due diligence and have a great business plan laid out, you need to be flexible because what you have on paper does not always translate into how it works in the “real world”. I learned to combine my ‘planning’ with ‘doing’ and periodically reassess and reflect on how to better my approach.
These many takeaways combined with a newly found confidence I had gained as an entrepreneur led me to start PromoAmbitions LLC, an innovative online marketing firm specializing in web design and SEO. HEAL3D initiatives are still occurring today under the PromoAmbitions umbrella. I have also started to host educational 3D Printing workshops for kids and it feels very rewarding to be able to inspire more 3D Printing tech enthusiasts.
The MIX Lab has not only inspired my initiatives, but also gave me direction as far as what I would love to do when I am in the position to give back. Inspiring young entrepreneurial minds and helping them turn their vision into reality is very fulfilling for all parties involved, and I aspire to one day be in a similar position with a similar setup to give back to my community.
Thank you Jason, Iain, Josh, Altarik, Sana, Alex, Matt and everyone else I have met at Montclair State’s MIX Lab who have helped fuel my entrepreneurial drive.