By Rick Weinberg, California Business Journal
Email: Rick@CalBizJournal.com / Mobile: 949-648-3815
WHEN JEFF ITO WAS A FRESHMAN AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, he chose Mechanical Engineering as his major. After he took his first Physics course, he quickly realized that perhaps Mechanical Engineering was not the ideal career path.
So he switched to Computer Science and Computer Engineering. Soon, he realized he didn’t see himself in programming as a career, so he changed majors again, this time to Industrial & Systems Engineering.
“I loved it,” he says. “It emphasized the business aspects of engineering. Of course, most courses deal with complex systems, statistics and processes, but others teach vital business concepts like accounting, design and human factors on top of engineering. It was the perfect combination for me.”
Industrial Engineering deals in part with the optimization of systems and processes, materials and costs, people and organization, supply chains – “things that make a business run better,” Ito says. “I was really inspired by operations research and optimization methods. I saw how numbers could impact everyday systems.”
The next question was, what was Ito going to do in Industrial Engineering?
He had no idea.
Soon thereafter, he was in a Manufacturing Process class with renowned USC Professor Yong Chen, who instructed his students to attend the WESTEC Conference at the LA Convention Center.
It was there where Ito saw his future: 3D Printing.
At the time, 3D printing was in its infant stages – actually, it still is today, but it has also emerged as the newest, hottest and coolest craze in the world of modern technology.
3D Printing was the absolute superstar of WESTEC – and Ito instantly fell in love with it.
“This is the future,” he recalls thinking to himself. “This is going to change the world.”
It already has — dramatically.
So once Ito decided his career path, exactly what was he going to do with 3D printing? Start a Modern Maker Movement company – one of those Build-It-Yourself work spaces — that includes 3D printing?
He chose jewelry.
“Because it’s projected to be a $200-$325 billion online industry by 2020,” he points out.
Ito was never really a jewelry freak yet he has always enjoyed art and design — and he really enjoys a challenge as well. So while he was doing his due diligence, he saw an opportunity with the jewelry market and seized it.
“When I looked at 3D printing, the advantages were customization and ease of design and I wondered what industry this could effect, impact and disrupt,” he says. “Jewelry spoke out to me. It is the ideal industry for disruption with 3D printing.”
After graduating from SC, Ito met his parents in Europe and informed them of his future plans. They loved the idea.
Ito branded the company “Mocci,” a name that was inspired, in part, by the popular Japanese ice cream, Mochi – a frozen treat wrapped in a ball that melts in your mouth as you crew it.
“I was brainstorming about names when I saw the Japanese ice cream at a grocery store,” he says. “The name just felt right.”
When Ito returned from Europe, he officially launched Mocci in Los Angeles as a 3D printed jewelry brand that focuses on customization, quality and “the internet of everything,” as Ito likes to say.
“I believe people will one day prefer to design and make their own custom 3D-printed engagement ring, pearl pendant, or diamond necklace – or really any piece of jewelry you can imagine from the convenience of home or anywhere – rather than go out to a store and buy from pre-designed and chosen pieces from within a store.”
Part of the mission at Mocci is to educate people on how they can use tools already at their disposal to make their own custom contemporary jewelry, Ito says.
“Our future goal,” he says, “is to make this easier for people with our own apps.”
Mocci faces quite a bit of competition but what makes this company different is that “we excel in all areas of the process,” Ito says. “Most companies are either designers or sellers. We’re both. Not many companies have that unique combination.”
So how does it all work? Well, anyone in the world, at any time, can go to Mocci’s website or iPad app and build their own custom piece of jewelry using Mocci’s “personalized” jewelry software.
Consumers can completely customize their own design and have the finished product delivered in potentially three or four days.
Through meticulous design and engineering, Mocci also efficiently utilizes resources to reduce waste and strive for a greener environment.
“No waste,” Ito says. “That’s part of our motto. This generation is eco-friendly – we care immensely about the environment and the ocean, and we want to do our part to make a big difference in protecting it.”
Copyright © 2014 California Business Journal. All Rights Reserved
To view Mocci’s Kickstarter video and site, Click Here.
Jeff Ito, President, Mocci Jewelry Designs