- Evan Lehr and Marcos Rivera were ready to grow their 3D printing business. Keystone Merge helped them take the next step.
Evan Lehr and Marcos Rivera are the first to admit that they’re not marketers. In founding Lehr Labs, the engineers dreamed of building a thriving 3D printing business that offers prototyping services for manufacturers, but they were struggling to connect with the right customers.
In November 2022, the duo turned to Keystone Merge for expertise on how to get their skills in front of their ideal market.
Evan, a ’21 Mechanical Engineering graduate of York College of Pennsylvania, started 3D printing as a hobby, designing drones and remote-control vehicle parts. He could create for pennies what many paid big bucks to obtain.
During an internship with Harley-Davidson, Evan saw a gap that he knew he could fill. Manufacturers needed 3D-printed prototype parts that normally would take weeks to machine. Evan joined forces with Marcos, a ‘20 York College Mechanical Engineering graduate, and they formed a company, Lehr Labs.
“Give an engineer calipers, a CAD machine, and a 3D printer and they’re pretty much invincible,” Evan says.
The duo quickly learned that they were much better at engineering than building a brand and marketing it. When they heard about an opportunity to make a presentation at Keystone Merge, they knew it would be a good move.
Keystone Merge is an entrepreneur-focused monthly networking event where business owners and entrepreneurs present a problem they’re struggling with and get feedback from fellow entrepreneurs. In November, Evan and Marcos stood before a crowd of local entrepreneurs, creatives, and leaders at York College’s J.D. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship.
For just over eight minutes, Evan and Marcos walked the crowd through their business model and their struggles, handing out samples of their 3D-printed prototypes and telling their story. For the next 10 minutes, they took questions from their counterparts.
Could they manufacture products from rubberized material?
Could they re-create hard-to-find camera or phone parts?
Do customers know what they’re looking for when they come to Lehr Labs?
When their presentation and the question-and-answer session wrapped up, Evan and Marcos found themselves engaged in numerous conversations with attendees. Within just a few months, several of those conversations had blossomed into business opportunities for Lehr Labs.
A connection with a retro parts re-maker.
A photographer who needs a remanufactured lens cap, a product Evan and Marcos began selling on e-commerce platforms.
A connection at Crescent Industries Inc., a company struggling with a shortage of toolmakers and apprentices, a situation that Lehr Labs could alleviate through 3D printing.
The contacts the duo made at Keystone Merge have proved invaluable. The experience also motivated them to begin reaching out to companies, sending cold emails, setting up meetings, and getting their capabilities in front of manufacturers.
Sharing at Keystone Merge helped Evan and Marcos hone their pitch and make their product messaging clear and concise so they can connect with any customer.
“We can talk engineer all day,” Evan says, “but for Keystone Merge, we had to generalize our message for everyone.”
“I think the best part of this experience isn’t just having the solution to things,” Marcos says. “It’s: How can you present it to people to create that need and generate that call to action? What’s the problem? What are the benefits that customer needs? Understanding that process better and changing our pitch to, ‘Here’s how we can help solve your need.’”
Learn more: Wondering if you should attend a Keystone Merge event or how you could present? Visit keystonemerge.com for answers to those questions and more.