A trained architect and Pittsburgh entrepreneur, Brian Peters, founder of Building Bytes, is taking the design world by storm with his inventive use of 3D printing. Building Bytes has garnered worldwide praise for its original concept and the brand is continuing to grow. I recently sat down with Brian to discuss how his training and previous work led him down an innovative path.
What is your business?
We use 3D printing technology to print blocks and tiles that form large scale installations. I work with individuals, designers, architects and developers who are looking for one-of-a-kind installations for their interior spaces.
How did you come up with your idea?
I am an architect by training and I worked in Chicago for several years before deciding to get a second Masters from a university in Barcelona, Spain, where I specialized in digital design and fabrication. I then moved to Amsterdam and worked with an architecture firm to build a large 3D printer with the capability to print large scale components for buildings. While living in Amsterdam, I also attended a ceramic’s residency, where I developed the idea for Building Bytes and had the opportunity to launch it at Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. After receiving positive press worldwide, I spent the next couple of years prototyping and building a business model. Currently, I live and work in Pittsburgh, building 3D printers, as well as designing and fabricating my installations. Very few people have the capability to 3D print ceramics and even fewer are pursuing it at the scale of architecture. I like to create work that is innovative, while still tied to traditional craftsmanship and building techniques.
What is your goal or vision?
Building Bytes, both the design and fabrication of one-of-a-kind installations, is what I love to do, so my goal is to make the business successful so I can spend my time doing what I love.
Our products are one-of-a-kind works of art that customers can commission to stand out. In addition to our larger products, we also make home decor pieces so people can purchase items at varying price points. I envision the scope of what we do continuing to expand into larger and larger scales, such as architectural, exterior rain screens.
Did you picture yourself doing what you are doing now?
I always imagined myself pursuing my passion projects (even while working as an architect in Chicago I had a studio where I made furniture), but I never imagined myself owning a business. It’s exciting to think this was just a daydream a few years ago, and now we have customers and are working on amazing projects.
Why did you choose Ascender?
I moved to Pittsburgh a couple of years ago and decided to dedicate my time and energy to taking Building Bytes from a side project to a successful business. I quickly realized that while I have expertise in design and digital fabrication, I have no experience in business fundamentals. I was fortunate to take an Ascender Bootcamp workshop January 2019 and then be accepted into the Incubator program. Everyone I’ve worked with at Ascender is very generous with their time and has expertise that has already made a huge impact on how I think about Building Bytes.
Do you have any detractors?
For what I am doing, there are mostly questions about scalability from the business community. However, since we’re building our own printers, we can scale up or down as needed. I also operate as an artist, so there is the archetype of the starving artist. The ability to do what you want as an artist is a hard trajectory, but you just have to define yourself and find people who want to buy into your brand.
What advice would you give to people starting out?
My advice is to not shy away from any opportunities to learn, especially from those with experience. Even if you don’t act on every piece of advice, you always have something to learn.
What are your lessons learned?
One of the best things I’ve learned through working with Ascender is actually rather simple: to be confident in saying that I am an entrepreneur working on an innovative idea. I also learned how to more clearly define what Building Bytes is and why someone would want to work with us and invest in us. On the practical side, I’ve learned a lot about developing a sound financial strategy with both short term and long-term goals.