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An Interview with Lynette Kucsma, CMO and Co-founder, Natural Machines

3-D printing just keeps getting more and more interesting and diverse it seems. We recently discovered another very interesting innovation in 3-D food printing, a growing genre, if you will, in the industry, the Foodini printer. It also intersects with another growing trend in the food community towards less processed, more natural foods. The Foodini was invented and developed by Natural Machines, it adds a new layer of creativity to the kitchen, without adding too much complexity. More information about where they are with the Foodini can be found via their Kickstarter Campaign. We were able to reach out to the company, and connect with Lynette Kucsma, CMO and co-founder of Natural Machines. The transcript of our email interview is below:

1) Can you provide a brief history and overview of Natural Machines(how/when they were formed, etc.)? Who are the people involved in the company and what are their backgrounds?

Two of the 4 founders are shareholders with no exec role in the company, meaning they do not have day-to-day involvement in running the company. Emilio and I are involved are our backgrounds, in brief:

Emilio Sepulveda: CEO & Co-Founder at Natural Machines
Emilio Sepulveda has 20+ years experience in the technology space. Most recently, he was in charge of strategy and Innovation in a big multinational, leading multiple global scope start-up projects with successful launches, including raising seed capital and configuring teams, and patenting high tech business models to ensure competitiveness and sustainability.

Lynette Kucsma: CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) & Co-Founder at Natural Machines
Lynette is a senior marketing professional with international experience and a proven track record of full marketing responsibilities in companies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 organizations. She has 10+ years experience of marketing in a technology environment; 5+ years experience in marketing consumer goods, and MBA & BS degrees in Marketing. Prior to Natural Machines, Lynette was a Senior Marketing/PR Manager for Microsoft. Personally, she's passionate about healthy eating, technology and marketing. Weave that together with her tech and consumer professional background, and it all comes together at Natural Machines.

2)Is the Foodini the first 3D printer the company has brought to market? Who is the intended audience for a product like this? What prompted you to bring something revolutionary like the Foodini to market?

Yes, Foodini is the first 3D food printer Natural Machines is bringing to market.

The product is targeted to kitchen users, both home kitchen users and professional kitchen users. Home kitchen users are particularly interested in Foodini to make fresh versions of pre-processed foods they have become accustom to, while chefs and restaurants are specifically interested in the designer food presentation elements.

Foodini is a new generation kitchen appliance promoting cooking with fresh ingredients. Whether it's in a home kitchen or a restaurant. It's getting people to eat less pre-processed food.

Foodini's main purpose is to take on the difficult and/or time-consuming parts of food preparation that often discourage people from creating homemade food. Whether its simple handmade meals or snacks, or intricately presented crafted food.

We hope that Foodini will encourage more people to eat healthier, fresher foods...whether it's in their homes, or in a restaurant. There are too many processed and “convenience” foods in the market, many with ingredients that are unidentifiable to the common consumer. Foodini can help replicate these convenience foods that people have become accustom to, but making them with fresh ingredients. And taking it a step further, Foodini can help craft/present food into shapes that would be difficult by hand.

3)What prior knowledge, if any, would be required to use a product like the Foodini?

At the end of the day, Foodini is a kitchen appliance, that happens to be based on 3D printing technology. :-) So the user experience/prior knowledge should be similar to knowledge needed for other kitchen appliances, such as blenders, microwaves, ovens, etc. We're making it easy for people to print food straight out of the box (Foodini is plug and play, no assembly required), and we're also building in advanced applications so that those with knowledge of 3D printing can do advanced custom designs.

4)What can you tell us about the printing process with this machine? What ingredients can be used to make meals with it? How long does it take? Is "cooking" part of the process too?
Foodini is a connected device, meaning it's connected to the Internet. It has a built in touch screen on the front that provides the user interface for printing food. Once the user chooses the recipe they want to print (from the onboard touchscreen, or from a user's tablet, laptop, etc.), Foodini will instruct what food to put in each capsule, and then printing can begin.

We are using an open capsule model, meaning the consumer prepares and places ingredients in Foodini. Consumers are not forced to buy pre-packaged food capsules specifically for Foodini. That means the user can print a wide variety of ingredients.

As an added ease of use for consumers, we are looking into working with retailers that can prepare pre-packaged food capsules made freshly in-store as an alternative option for consumers. Imagine going to a store, picking up a 5 capsule pack of ravioli ingredients pre-made in the store using fresh ingredients, going home and popping them into Foodini to print.

How long does it take? It depends on the ingredients, the recipe, and quantity you are printing.Some things print very fast in a matter of minutes (e.g., flatter type foods like crackers, simple plate decorations), while other things take longer times (e.g., intricate chocolate sculptures can take 20 minutes to print). Quantities also have to be taken into consideration. For example, a small, single serving of ravioli will print faster than quantity to feed a family of 4.

Foodini does not cook the food. We are, however, researching and developing a model that does cook food.

5)Without revealing too much (if possible) what is the short range (3-5 year) plan for your company? What do you see happening in the industry during this time as well?

It's going to keep getting better and better. We envision that 3D printing technology will continually evolve, so we will always be investing in research and development. With food printing, for example, we believe additional textures of food will be suitable for printing, finer-tuned movements to shape food on a plate will be developed, and printing can become faster without losing quality of presentation.

Since Foodini is a connected device—meaning it's connected to the Internet—we will provide software updates so our customers have the latest technology on their machines.

2014 is our product launch year, and Foodini will start appearing in kitchens in homes, restaurants and elsewhere. People can print with fresh foods using published recipes, or make and share their own food creations.

We look forward to introducing a fun way to help people create fresh foods.

About William Elward

Founder of Castle Ink, William Elward has 20 years experience in the printer industry. He's been featured on CNN Money, Yahoo, PC World, Computer World, and other top publications and frequently blogs about printers and ink cartridges. He's an expert at diagnosing printer issues and has published guides to fixing common printer issues across the internet. A graduate of Bryant University and Columbia's Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program, he's held various leadership positions at The College Board, Bankrate, Zocdoc, and Everyday Health. Follow him on Twitter at William Elward's Twitter Profile