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Get to Know the GIA Finalist: 3DuxDesign

Skandalaris Center
April 14, 2020

This month, six ventures will complete for up to $50,000 in the 2020 Global Impact Award. Over the next few weeks, we will introduce the scalable, sustainable, and quick-to-market ventures with proof of concept and a broad impact. Today we’re featuring 3DuxDesign and hearing from founder Ayana Klein.

About 3DuxDesign

3DuxDesign supplies children around the world with the educational materials and academic skills they need to succeed. We inspire kids to become active, engaged learners as they tackle real-world challenges, learn from international specialists from a broad range of fields, and connect with students from communities they never knew existed. Children are exposed to people with different customs and cultures, and with communities that face unique challenges, And they are inspired to blend their creativity, experience, and knowledge as they seek innovative solutions to real-world problems. We empower children through the 3Dux University Global Community, where they can share their ideas.

The 3DuxDesign modeling system consists of a series of six uniquely shaped connectors and a variety of paintable geometric cardboard forms that can be used in the home for hands-on, creative play and in the classroom for more formal cross-curricular learning. The connectors are engineered to work with discarded shipping boxes because, as a material, cardboard is open-ended, widely accessible, and free. With this, children will have endless design possibilities, and they will learn about creative repurposing as they build.

Industry: Education

Number of Employees: 4

Total Funding (as of March 2020): $10,000

What problem are you solving?

In the United States, school-based education has changed little since the Industrial Revolution. Students are separated by age, and subjects are taught in silos, with each subject seemingly unrelated and disconnected from others. This form of learning all too often feels like it has no real-world application and is uninspiring to students. Subject matter often focuses on memorizing facts, and students are judged by scores, percentiles, and standard deviations from the “norm.”

With modern technology, artificial intelligence, and computer learning, most jobs that require a pure knowledge base are being performed by computers and robots. Students today need to learn 21st-century human skills like creative problem solving, communication, and the art of collaboration. Even more important, students need to learn how to navigate and prosper in the broader world outside the classroom.

Both globally and in the U.S., children in many communities suffer from a lack of access to resources like affordable educational materials and qualified instruction. And in some more remote regions, students may feel disconnected from the world outside their community. Here too, students would benefit incredibly from a high quality, more global, and connected learning platform.

About the Founding Team

Ayana Klein: Ayana is Lead Product Developer, Graphic Designer, and Director of the Global Initiative as part of the 3DuxDesign team. She is a sophomore at Washington University in St. Louis and is heading towards a career in either business, architecture, and/or education. She wants a career where she can blend her love of the arts with her talents in math and science to create new products that will inspire the next generation to solve real-world problems.

Ethan Klein: Ethan is the Chief Engineer and Production Manager. He is a junior in high school and already proficient in CAD and complex modeling, 3D printing, and CNC routing. His other passions include music and woodworking. He hones all of these skills by making his own guitars and skateboards.

Marci Klein: Marci, Product Development Consultant, brings over 20 years of experience as an NYU Medical School-trained clinical and academic pediatrician. With a solid understanding of child development, safety, and health issues, she has helped gear the product design to be highly engaging, educational, and developmentally appropriate. Marci has also helped develop curriculum around 3Dux materials, teaches students in after school enrichment programs, and runs educator workshops on how human-centered project-based learning can be incorporated into school programs. She is also Chief Assistant to the Principals (the job was formally titled, Schleper).

What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned since starting your venture?

The biggest lesson I have learned so far since starting 3Dux Design is that failure is important. There have been multiple instances where my ideas did not work, and while this can be frustrating in that it seems like hours upon hours have been wasted, this is not the case. If a person is to be successful in everything they do, they are playing it way too safe. One other important lesson I have learned is that you should always listen to what others have to say and consider their ideas. This is important because it makes others feel needed and helpful, and they are more likely to be of help somewhere down the road. 

What do you love about being an entrepreneur?

What I love most about being an entrepreneur is that I have learned to open myself up and share my thoughts and ideas. Growing up, I was very shy and, although creative, rarely shared any ideas I had. But, since starting 3Dux, I have learned how to open myself up and take risks that I otherwise would have never done. I love being able to meet new people of all ages and backgrounds and learn about what they do and what they are interested in. I also love showcasing my products and programs at expos and working directly with kids. It is so inspiring to work with such a variety of individuals, and I have learned so much in the process.

What words of advice do you have for those interested in starting a business?

If you have an idea that you are truly passionate about, go for it! I would recommend taking some time to outline your idea and speak to others (such as friends, family, teachers, etc.) about it first to make sure it is feasible, and if it is not, don't take it as a failure but rather adapt the idea to make it work. Something important that I have learned along the way is that if you are passionate about something and others can see the joy it brings you; they will too be interested. That would be my main advice, but I think it is also incredibly helpful to use your contacts; talk to your professors and reach out to others in your community. I have found that others love to help, and will oftentimes be happy to meet or set up a time to talk. If you want to start a business, be ready for ups and downs, failures and successes, but in the end, if you believe in your venture, don't stop until you make it work!


Facebook: @3duxdesign

Instagram: @3duxdesign