Ms. Hatsopoulos was honored with Mass. High Tech’s 2001 All-Star Award for Hardware. She has been profiled in Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company, Boston Business Journal, the Boston Globe and Technology Review. She speaks at technology conferences and at the nation’s top business schools, and was on Boston Magazine’s 2008 Extended Power List of the most powerful people in town. She has published articles in Design News and Time Compression Technologies.
Even as a kid, Marina Hatsopoulos dreamed of running her own business. She studied her passions—math and music—at Brown University and then landed an ideal first job at Chase Manhattan on Wall Street. But soon she felt something was missing. “I felt like I wasn’t creating anything,” she says. To get closer to operations, she went to work in 1990 for her dad, George Hatsopoulos, at his technology company Thermo Electron. Working in mergers and acquisitions, she found that she needed more knowledge herself, so she came to MIT for a master’s in mechanical engineering.
While she worked on that degree, Hatsopoulos and her husband, Walter Bornhorst, bought and rehabbed some decrepit buildings in the Back Bay. Hatsopoulos did the CAD design work and fabricated three-dimensional models. In 1994 when she was researching potential business opportunities in MIT’s Technology Licensing Office, a 3-D printing technology jumped out. The machines could quickly produce inexpensive prototypes for everything from bleach bottles to motorcycle engine blocks. “I understood the value of a physical model for the architectural application, and I could imagine the same to be true for the design market,” she says. She licensed the technology and started Z Corporation with her husband and Jim Bredt.
The company grew rapidly, and they sold it to a Danish conglomerate in 2005. “In retrospect, we were incredibly lucky with the technology,” she says. “It proved out much better than we had hoped. The whole thing was a fantastic experience.”
But what makes a good investor?
“You want an investor who’s patient, who has been through the lifecycle of a startup and really understands it. There are always bumps to the road, but a strong investor will remain lawyal to the company and will stick with it through those bumps in the road, and will give you more money to get through a tough period. Of course industry expertise, so that they can provide useful contacts, customers contacts, advisors”, says Marina at a past interview.