3D-Printed Entrepreneurial Passion: The Early-Stage Story of Mike Acerra and His Toys

Our 22nd and final guest speaker of the soon-to-end semester brought many things to the Midwest Entreprenurs class that students had not seen or expereinced throughout the semester. These “new things” included an operational 3D-printer, prototypes of innovative new toys, a fascinating and at times chaotic early-stage (i.e., still in fluid development) entrepreneurial story, and fervent, unbridled entrepreneurial passion.

Five to ten years from now, we may be looking back on this as a brief glimpse into the early thoughts of a very wealthy and influential toy magnate. It would not surprise me if the students in the class will be buying the toys we saw in prototype form for their own children!

I turn the blog over to class member Chase Bair to tell this captivating early-stage entrepreneurial tale.

Prof. Gabel


Mike Acerra (of Acerra Studios), a graduate of Knox College with a BA in Studio Art, is in the process of starting up a new business in nearby Galesburg, Illinois. Acerra Studios will be printing 3D toys with the launch of his business in the summer of 2015.

Growing up every kid plays with Legos and other “building block” toys. But these toys can’t be manipulated into spheres and other shapes. As a child, this upset Mike Acerra.

In college Mike taught himself what he enjoyed to do. He started out as an engineering student. Although pursuit of the engineering degree was eventually abandoned, we saw in class how this strong techniccal background today plays an important role in Mike’s ongoing entrepreneurial story. He designs his toys on the computer and prints them on a 3D-printer, which he brought to class and actually used to produce a small part for one of his toys.

The current business idea got formally started around 30 years ago while at Knox College when Mike got into studio and performance art. And since that day this idea has been building into what it is soon to become; a line of science-based toys that can be moved into shapes and do many things that no other toys on the market today can.

Mike spoke extensively about his inspirations. While in college Mike became fascinated with R. Buckminster Fuller. Fuller was an American architect, systems theorist, author, designer, inventor, and futurist. Mike was especially interested in the numerous inventions, mainly architectural designs, and the widely known geodesic dome that Fuller produced. These shapes and designs are what lead Mr. Acerra to make this new and improved toys.

Currently Mike has one employee and is hoping to get an intern from Monmouth College. In the future Mike wants to expand his business and grow into the northern cities. He also wants to eventually make his toys motorized.

Coming to Galesburg in the summer of 2015! Acerra Studios producing 3D toys; something that Mike Acerra hopes that every kid comes to need!

Chase Bair