Mitch Free is a serial entrepreneur and manufacturing industry maverick. He currently serves as the founder and CEO of ZYCI. Mitch also founded MFG.com in 2000 and served as CEO and Chairman until 2013. Prior to MFG.com, Mitch founded a 3D CAD company that grew exponentially and successfully sold.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”, a track record of innovation, a 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 led him to found ZYCI and in 2013. Mitch enjoys getting his hands dirty in the details and is intimately involved in the day-to-day operations and leadership.
Mitch writes for Forbes about manufacturing as it related to aerospace and defense. He is a dynamic and sought-after presenter, Mitch Free has spoken at Northwestern University, Georgia Tech, Harvard Business School, Wharton, Fudan University in China, numerous industry conferences and appears regularly on various media outlets including CNBC and Fox Business.
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 co-authored THE GREAT DISRUPTION: COMPETING AND SURVIVING IN THE SECOND WAVE OF THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION 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.
Shirene Free is originally from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and has lived in Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai before settling down in the United States.
Shirene began her career in Singapore as a production planner in the injection molding industry for one of the largest plastic molders in Asia. She advanced to positions of increasing responsibility giving her significant first-hand experience with machining, tool development, molding and the global manufacturing industry. Subsequently, Shirene was recruited to lead procurement and logistics by a leading supplier of polyethylene products for the food and beverage industry and relocated to Hong Kong. Shirene is a member of Women in Manufacturing
Prior to moving the United States, Shirene lived in Shanghai, China and ran sales, marketing and customer service for MFG.com for southeast Asia. Shirene has a tremendous reputation for her work ethic, manufacturing expertise, attention to detail and obsession with exceeding customer expectations.
Shirene enjoys staying fit, spending time with her family and co-piloting small airplanes with her husband. She cares deeply about social causes and helping the less fortunate. She was featured in the book Belly Art Project by Sara Blakely to support the Every Mother Counts Foundation.
Ryan leads ZYCI's day-to-day operations. He graduated from Georgia Southern University with a degree in Fine Arts and an emphasis on graphic design. Like many people, Ryan's career path diverged quickly from the field of his degree. His passion for precision execution and technical details led him to become a network engineer, cybersecurity expert and project manager over complex projects with lots of moving parts. Ryan joined ZYCI as a project manager and quickly earned a role as a leader in the ZYCI's business.
On a personal note, Ryan is an avid music fan, enjoying Phish and Grateful Dead. On the weekends he can be found coaching sports for his 2 sons.