Mitch Free is a serial entrepreneur and manufacturing industry maverick. He currently serves as the founder, chairman, and CEO of two high technology manufacturing companies; CloudDDM and ZYCI. Mitch also founded MFG.com in 2000 and served as CEO and Chairman until 2013.
Mitch began his career as a CNC machinist and worked in the aerospace and automotive tooling sectors producing some of the most complex parts and assemblies. After working in job shops for 7 years, Northwest Airlines recruited him to develop methods to rapidly reverse engineer and produce aircraft parts when they could not be quickly obtained from the OEM or surplus market. While at the airline, he was awarded multiple patents (5,167,720 and 5,162,659) for technologies he created for inspection and repair of jet engine components. Mitch Free’s “owner mentality”, track record of innovation, penchant for results and leadership quickly led to senior management positions where he oversaw aircraft acquisition, refurbishment and fleet modernization projects worldwide.
Mitch left the airline business to pursue his entrepreneurial dreams and founded a 3Datum, a company focused on providing product designers and manufacturers with 3-D CAD, CAM and 3-D printing systems. 3Datum was acquired after 3 years and Mitch subsequently founded MFG.com. Mitch built MFG.com into the largest global marketplace for the manufacturing industry serving customers in 50 countries and 11 languages with regional offices in Atlanta, Georgia, Paris, France and Shanghai, China. MFG.com’s success attracted high profile investors including Jeff Bezos and Fidelity Ventures. Mitch ran MFG.com as Chairman and CEO for 13 years.
In 2013, Mitch’s passion for manufacturing and building companies that delight customers let him to found ZYCI and in 2014 he also founded CloudDDM in partnership with UPS. Mitch enjoys getting his hands dirty in the details and is intimately involved in the day-to-day operations and leadership of both companies.
A dynamic and sought-after presenter, Mitch Free has spoken at Northwestern University, Harvard Business School, Wharton, Fudan University in China, numerous industry conferences and appears regularly on various media outlets including CNBC and Fox Business. Because of his hands on expertise and passion for American manufacturing and global trade Mitch Free was selected by the Clinton Global Initiative to help develop strategies to revive American manufacturing.
Mitch is a previous winner of the prestigious Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award and has been featured in Start Up Playbook and Makers, the New Industrial Revolution. Mitch is currently co-authoring a book about the supply disruption that lies ahead as a result of direct digital manufacturing.
Mitch serves on several boards of directors, is a member of YPO, an aviation enthusiast and private pilot.