Founder and head designer, Terraform Design
During his entrepreneurship program at Florida State University, Nick ODonnell started looking into 3D printing.
His first 3D printing business idea? Have people record a message and make bracelets out of the resulting sound waves. Then, at a symposium, he saw furniture made from a printer. “I thought it was the coolest thing,” he says. “I thought, ‘I need to learn how to do it.’” So he did.
Up next? In his senior year of college, ODonnell taught himself how to make furniture using 3D printing technology, designing a chair as a conceptual piece just to see if he could do it. “The way I like to look at it is I was the first customer,” he says. “I made it because it was the design I myself would like to have.”
He had his design made and two weeks later, it was featured in the newspaper in Tallahassee. Then USA Today picked up the story. That’s when ODonnell thought, “This would be a cool business.”
He founded that business, Terraform Design in 2015, when he was still in school. Now he makes lamps, benches and other pieces of furniture for individual buyers as well as commercial clients.
In 2016, he won the Governor’s Young Entrepreneur Award from Florida Gov. Rick Scott. The award generated a lot of media coverage and helped raise Terraform Design’s profile.
ODonnell makes the majority of his sales through online platform Etsy and says his solid Pinterest presence helps drive those sales. Now he’s transitioning to Amazon and starting advertising campaigns on Facebook to increase sales.
Big clients have started to take notice. Retailer Abercrombie & Fitch bought ODonnell’s lamps for its Hollister stores across the country, for example. He says his designs are big in high design areas, especially the Middle East.
Within the next year, ODonnell expects to have at least two full time employees working with him at Terraform Design. “I’m really starting to get more into a growth phase,” he says. “I’m starting to generate more sales and a lot more interest.”