The fairy tale of 3D Printing start-up Kwambio turns into a nightmare

As fantastic and promising 3D printing can be, sometimes, things don’t always go as planned for companies. Remember when Gil Lavi told us that early-stage founders “have to keep [their] feet on the ground”? Because, sometimes they develop an interesting technology, promise a lot through marketing actions and in the end, deliver little. Well, Ukrainian company Kwambio is kind of being in that phase right now.

Quick reminder

Kwambio started its 3D printing journey by providing 3D printing services of ceramic and metal products. Over time, the company has developed its own series of ceramic 3D printers that it has enhanced as it strengthens its business model.

Last year, when we last heard the company, the team at Kwambio partnered with WeFund to create the A.D.A.M company (meant for Advanced Development of Additive Manufacturing); a company that aims at developing 3D Bioprinting of Organic Bones’ Structures. While they have been receiving positive feedback from the US FDA service, 2021 saw the cancellation of this project due to enormous financial issues.

The startup CEO, Denys Gurak, explained in a press release :

The management of the company and the A.D.A.M. startup failed to implement the tasks and reach the goals, which were set by themselves, and which they promised to fulfill. After almost two years, we don’t even have a ready-made prototype of the products. We were also hindered by the situation that has developed with the appearance of COVID-19 in the world, debts, and numerous lawsuits from former employees and investors in Ukraine and the USA. In recent months, A.D.A.M. management has been looking for additional sources of investment and wanted to attract new investors. The company moved to the Technology Incubation Program (TIP) facilities at the University of Connecticut (Farmington, CT), but it couldn’t solve all the problems in the field of funding. We had several meetings with potential investors, but we were unable to convince them to invest in our development at the initial stage. Therefore, we decided to close our startup.”

To date

 According to AIN.UA., a Ukrainian news site, the company has not been operating since March due to financial issues that result in late paychecks to its employees for most of 2020.

Staff told the Ukrainian news site that it did not receive any paycheck since September 2020 and management would currently be looking for raising a new round of investment, relaunching the production, and paying off debts.

A number of testimonies from anonymous employees confirms that the financial situation was really harsh. Those who could not handle the situation left the company while others were hired, repeating the same cycle. Things got worse when one of them decided to take legal action.

I respected the company management, namely Volodymyr Usov, and so, was getting by with just promises to pay me for several months, but then, to my deepest regret, I saw that taking legal action was the only way out,” an unhappy former employee told AIN.UA. “Following which, I received threats saying that if I filed a suit, they would drag the trial out and make my life a misery.”

Another staff member told our Ukrainian colleagues that, on top of that, there was a matter involving shell companies:

Several months after the delay, I wrote quite an extensive discontented message to the general chat room, after which Rozov offered to talk on the phone and explain the situation first-hand,” he explained AIN.UA. “On the call, I was told that the money had been coming in not straight from the investors, but through some cash-out shell companies, and the cash-outers had allegedly stolen the money.” AIN.UA says that it maintains a record of this call.

With all these struggles, the Kwambio 3D printer has never been released. Nevertheless, it has pre-orders for printers that were secured with 10% deposits.

Today, ongoing negotiations between the company and investors might hopefully help the company get back on track, pay back its debts, including back wages to employees.

The AIN.UA has shared a much deeper story about Kwambio and the nightmare it is trying to wake up from.

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