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Meet Robert Culpi of Maverick PDM in Costa Mesa

Today we’d like to introduce you to Robert Culpi.

Robert, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I realized I wanted to be an entrepreneur in High School. I designed some shirts for myself and started selling them to my classmates. I sold paintings, shoes, and other crafts I’d work on. It was mostly just an excuse for me to make stuff and try to be creative but I found it to be super fun. When I went to college at UC Santa Cruz, I studied in the Entrepreneurship program working on a bike generator for rural medicine, an ultrasonic guitar effects controller, and autonomous drones for monitoring plant health and growth on farms. My work with drones for agriculture was especially interesting to me and I had a great team to work with. I also learned a lot about precision agriculture and the industry that would be extremely relevant to me later on.

When I graduated I worked at a social media technology company in Mountain View called Gigya. I had great coworkers and it was an exciting high growth company to be with. The number of employees almost tripled in the two years I worked there from about 50 to almost 180. I had a great work environment at a great company but I started to realized how much I missed working on real physical products and hardware. Around the same time, I found out my stepdad had liver cancer and I decided to move to move back to Orange County to help with the medical care.

Soon after I moved to Orange County I met my future co-founder, Erik Durr, at a maker space. We developed and built equipment for powdery mildew detection for research institutions and vineyards. We also started to develop multiple consumer electronics products mostly focusing on mobile power generation. As we developed more products we decided we’d want to focus just on developing and launching new products so we founded Maverick PDM. Erik has been a fantastic co-founder who developed over 10 products before I even met him with a huge knowledge of production techniques and design thinking.

Has it been a smooth road?
Starting a business can be extremely time consuming and emotionally taxing. I lost plenty of sleep and had my fair share of stress but I honestly can’t complain at all. I work with extremely talented people and I’m extremely passionate and interested in the work I get to do. The main struggle, in the beginning, was finding the right focus. It can be tempting to try to do everything. After completing more and more projects we’ve really honed in on expertise and get to focus on that.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Maverick PDM – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
We do product development and manufacturing which is where the PDM in Maverick PDM comes from. We take ideas, develop the design, prototype, and then manufacture products. Our clients will often come to us with a rough idea or concept and we’ll help them develop their IP and take care of everything it takes for them to get their first inventory.

I’m most proud of the variety of products we’ve helped create and the patents we’ve helped develop. Many design firms will just put a new skin on an existing product where we go into more technical detail to make a better product with a strong competitive advantage.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
There is so much to love about Costa Mesa and Orange County. There is, of course, amazing beaches, nature, venues and everything else Orange County is known for. What really surprised me about Costa Mesa and Orange County is how big of a manufacturing industry we have here. We have some world-class manufacturers and all the industry services we’d need like anodizing, water/laser cutting, packaging, and fulfillment.

What I like least is how spread out all the fun places seem to be. It does make for a good excuse to see the whole city though.

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