From Childhood Planes to Investing in 3D Printing: My Journey


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My fascination with aerospace started young, and I started studying planes–identifying them in the sky and learning everything I could about how they work.  Fast forward to my first week at USC, where I was pursuing an aerospace engineering degree, and I was introduced to the USC Rocket Propulsion Lab. That fateful moment is when my career took a left turn into rocket science. I immediately joined the group and eventually went on to lead it my junior and senior years. It was exhilarating. We were given the freedom to design and fly rockets. To build, learn, iterate, sometimes fail, but always keep trying. Eventually, through a lot of persistence, I became the youngest person in the world to get an FAA clearance to fly a rocket to space.

After USC, I found myself at SpaceX working on the Dragon cargo and crew spacecraft. I was a young twenty-something working on highly complicated space missions and working to solve real needs. I joined the organization as it was scaling and was exposed to entrepreneurialism and ambition. That really stuck with me.

The idea for Relativity Space came out of conversations that co-founder Tim Ellis and I had by phone during my long commute from South Pasadena to the SpaceX office in Hawthrone. We both started to see benefits in 3D printing in our roles at SpaceX and Blue Origin. As we talked more and started to put pen to paper we realized we wanted to take metal 3D printing to the next level by solving for scale. We wanted to figure out how to print an entire rocket, so we got to work. As Founding Chief Technology Officer, I led the team that developed the technology to create a 3D printed rocket before stepping away from the organization. As you can imagine, I was incredibly proud to witness the successful launch of Terran 1 this past spring.

Being a VC now, conducting a Google search for funding may seem laughable, but that’s exactly what we did when we started Relativity. This looks back as yet another defining moment for me. I’m frequently asked why I chose to leave Relativity after only five years. What I discovered during these years is my passion for problem-solving and creating something new from nothing. When I left Relativity, it had experienced significant growth and was on the right path to achieve our initial goals. I desired a new challenge and the continual excitement of creating new things.

My transition to a VC wasn’t particularly planned, but an irresistible offer came along. A colleague within the industry, Jenna Bryant, wanted my advice on the initiation of a deep-tech VC firm. After conversations and some convincing by Jenna to become a partner in the firm, I realised the uniqueness of the opportunity presented to me. I had the capacity to assist other founders in realising their dreams, not only with monetary support but also beneficial guidance and advice from my own experiences as a founder.

As an investor, I’m privileged to work with founders who are problem solvers, continually aiming to fill a void and constantly creating something new. Given the background I have in the development of Relativity’s printers, I’ve seen the majority of early-stage 3D printing companies; many tend to underwhelm. Nevertheless, one of the initial investments we made as a VC fund was in Chromatic 3D Materials. They are a 3D printing technology company that utilises chemical reactions to improve flexibility from manufacturing, cut costs, and promote sustainability. What caught our attention about Chromatic was its concentration on reactive printing, which allows for material properties that are far superior to traditional non-metallic printing. By controlling a chemical reaction within their print head, they bypass the melting/fusion cycle that degrades high-quality polymers. Instead, these high-quality materials are formed in-situ.

I’m eagerly looking forward to the growth and evolution of the 3D printing industry, assisting the next generation of startups in shaping the future.

Jordan Noone, Co-Founder and General Partner of Embedded Ventures, will be participating at the upcoming Additive Manufacturing Strategies business summit in New York, February 6 to 8, 2024. Noone will be speaking on a panel on “Venture Capital”.

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“Why did the 3D printer go to therapy? Because it had too many layers of unresolved issues!”


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GCode-Guru

Meet the mastermind behind NozzleNerds.com: GCode-Guru, a 3D printing wizard whose filament collection rivals their sock drawer. Here to demystify 3D tech with a mix of expert advice, epic fails, and espresso-fueled rants. If you've ever wondered how to print your way out of a paper bag (or into a new coffee cup), you're in the right place. Dive into the world of 3D printing with us—where the only thing more abundant than our prints is our sarcasm.

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