Mar 05, 2015

Austin Design Firm Bought by Mu/Dai of Chicago

By Kritika Kulshrestha
For Reporting Texas and Austin Business Journal

Austin design firm Deft Strategy LLC has been acquired by Chicago-based Mu/Dai LLC, a digital design startup with offices in Chicago and Los Angeles.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Mu/Dai CEO P.J. Bickett said Deft’s offices will be moved downtown under the purchaser’s banner. The 10 employees at Deft will stay on. Deft co-founder Christian Barnard will also stay on as an adviser.

Mu/Dai uses a rapid prototyping platform to quickly validate prospective digital products for clients. Rapid prototyping is a process enabling quick fabrication of physical models using 3D computer aided design data. It is also known as 3D printing, according to Minnesota-based 3D printer manufacturer Stratasys Ltd.

Bickett said Dwayne Stoltz, a veteran of Sapient Corp. and Frog Design Inc., will become general manager of Mu/Dai in Austin. The firm intends to increase its local headcount from 12 to 16 over the next few months.

“We were evaluating different scenarios, from acquiring a larger company to acquiring talent and dealing with the process organically,” Bickett said. “Dwayne’s strong ties to the Texas market and Deft’s client roster made this a winning combination.”

Mu/Dai, which Bickett said refers to a focus on “artwork and not the artist,” is backed by between $1 million and $5 million from Chicago-based venture capital firm Treehouse Adventures LLC. Mu/Dai was founded in October 2014.

Bickett wouldn’t disclose the Mu/Dai client list, but said customers range from startups to Fortune 500 companies.