Over 50,000 customers worldwide and a Kickstarter project for a new product that doubled its €10,000 target in 11 hours. It’s been a busy year for Pen Tips/Nuwa Innovation founder Marc Tuinier, with more awesome things and ambitious plans on the horizon for the spatial computing and product design startup.
Officially founded in October 2020, Pen Tips embarked on a journey to improve the way users interact with their stylus. Conceptualized earlier that year, the primary solution was a simple silicon cone that slides over the Apple Pencil. In the short span of a year, the startup now has a worldwide customer base of more than 50,000 and has also launched a new product through kickstarter called the PenPad, an intuitive shortcut panel for Procreate users.
Rapid growth and a happy accident
Their first product, a simple, silicone tip actually started out as a happy accident. “I dropped my Apple Pencil and it broke”, Marc says. “It happens to a lot of people, so I was trying to come up with ways to give it a little extra protection and designed a little tip for it. But using that same tip also gave me more control and grip and it got rid of the typical clacking noises when you touch the screen. So I thought this would be a great idea for a business. I started working with an industrial designer to tweak the design, found a manufacturer in China and started scaling up a little over a year ago.”
“And things just exploded from there”, Marc continues. “We suddenly sold our product in 118 different countries, which is just insane when you think about it. I think part of the success is really listening to the community of digital artists, figuring out what really helps them. We also feature their work on our website and socials, so that also helped building a community and spread the word.”
A little over a year ago, Marc was still working out of his studio apartment. “And now we have our own office and a team of 14 people. It’s been a pretty hectic year! But it’s also tough growing a business that fast. I’ve had a lot of help from Robert van den Berg, the owner of LinQhost, who has acts as a mentor and also helped with some early funding. He has taught me so much about building a healthy, scalable business.”
On November 30, Pen Tips launched a Kickstarter campaign for their latest product, the PenPad. It’s a shortcut panel that provides 23 intuitive shortcuts when using Procreate (the leading digital art app on iPad), to remove the burden of manually switching functions with your Apple Pencil, and consequently losing touch with your artwork.
The goal was raising €10,000. In 24 hours, they raised €20.000. “On the first day we sold 342 PenPads, which is a phenomenal outcome that really shows our product solves a shortcoming of Procreate on the iPad,” Marc explains. “We’ve seen a lot of pledges from the United States, but also great dispersal globally including the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Germany, Australia, Canada, Belgium, Sweden, France, and Austria. It’s incredibly rewarding to receive such genuine interest from digital artists who recognize the innovation we are delivering with our products.”
Go big or go home
Pen Tips is actually part of a bigger plan and much bigger ambitions, Marc explains. “I always wanted to be an entrepreneur and I’ve lived in Texas until I was 15, so I guess the go big or go home mindset sort of stuck with me, haha. We’re using the revenue from Pen Tips to develop other products in spatial computing hardware, with Nuwa Innovation. I can’t say too much about it yet, because we’re currently working on the prototype, but we want to combine spatial computing and AR to make your screen obsolete and turn the world into your canvas. It’s really exciting to work on and we’ll hopefully be able to launch it in 2023.”
PHOTO CREDITS: Sanne van Renesse