CEO of Marin County’s Scansite wins North Bay Women in Business award

Lisa Federici



1595 Francisco Blvd. E., Suite D, San Rafael 94901


Lisa Federici, CEO of the Marin County technology firm Scansite, is a winner of North Bay Business Journal’s 2021 Women in Business Awards.

Professional background: I come from a long line of entrepreneurs and have often worked in roles not traditionally filled by women.

After earning a business degree at Ohio University, I went to graduate school in Italy and came home with a love for antiquities and a master’s in art history. It was my experience in Italy that inspired my first business venture, which was an art and antique shop. It was so much fun hunting for beautiful and unusual treasures!

The shop was located in a college town where people tended to move in and out frequently and people were always asking me to move things.

One thing led to another, and I closed the antique shop and started a household moving business. Over time, the business grew to several large trucks and soon we were relocating people all over the country!

It was during this timeframe that I met my husband, David, and eventually moved to the West Coast.

He’s an architect who, at the time, was working for a designer furniture company. They were looking for someone to run the operational side of the business and I signed on. It was through my work at this company, that I was first introduced to 3D scanning.

Even though the technology was still in its infancy, it was mind blowing to see. I realized immediately the potential the technology had and knew I wanted to get involved. Although I didn’t quit the furniture business for some time, I started Scansite in 1994 and have been pushing the technology forward ever since.

Education:Bachelor of Science, business, Ohio University; Masters, art history/Ohio, University

Tell us about yourself and your company: Scansite is fortunate to work with a wonderfully diverse client base on a wide variety of projects. As one of the first 3D technology companies in the country, we have been providing services since 1994.

Since then, as the technology has evolved, Scansite has evolved right along with it, continuing to pave the way by applying cutting-edge technology and methods as soon as they are available.

This dedication to the industry has allowed Scansite to forge many long term and successful working relationships with companies like Boeing, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NASA, Tesla, NIKE, Hyundai, Warner Bros, 2K and the Smithsonian Institution.

Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share?

The stakes were high when the Smithsonian Institution’s Air and Space Museum contacted Scansite to create 15 replicas of Neil Armstrong’s iconic spacesuit.

Not only did the Museum want the replicas to be truly faithful to the original, but they also wanted them to be so exact that viewers today could experience the same magic of that fateful day 50 years ago when Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon.

The life size, interactive “Apollo at the Park” replicas were being made in conjunction with the Museum’s 50th anniversary celebration of the event.

Making such faithful replicas meant a considerable amount of creative thinking was needed and is exactly the kind of project Scansite is known for.

The first question I always ask clients is where do they want to be at the end of the day? Then we work backwards from there to come up with a reasonable solution within a budget. Often, with projects like this, there’s going to a sweet spot between technology and craftsmanship.

The project began in Washington D.C. where high resolution 3D scanning was conducted on the original spacesuit. The scanning presented significant challenges as the suit was made from several different types of material and included detail such as hand stitching, insignia patches, see-through gauges, metal ports, gloves, boots, and Velcro! The suit also needed to be scanned upright and could not be moved during the process.

This meant the material folded onto itself which created numerous undercuts and hidden surfaces that could not be ‘seen’ by the 3D scanner.

Data editing such a project is complicated and can take months to complete, especially as our number one priority is to make sure that we are creating a 3D file that is completely faithful to the original with no artistic interpretation.

Once the scan data was complete, we used it to build a full-scale, 3D print of the entire spacesuit that was used to make a mold to pour 15 roto-cast resin sculptures.

The next step, and where the craftsmanship part of the process comes in, was to accurately hand-paint all fifteen copies.

In 1969, NASA had developed custom paints to protect the metal ports, and particularly the visor, from the effects of the sun. There are no paints available today that are the same colors; therefore, research had to be conducted to create paints that matched exactly.

Our artists also had to take care to make sure that each replica was the same as every other replica, including the hand stitching, see-through gauges, metal ports, gloves, boots, Velcro, and moon dust!

Once the replicas were complete, the museum asked for one last thing to create even more magic for the project!

An augmented reality app was developed that allowed visitors to hold their phone over the spacesuit’s insignia patches and facts about the Apollo 11 moon mission appear on the screen!

The fifteen, interactive “Apollo at the Park” replicas went on display at fifteen MLB ballparks around the country for the entire season and were a home run hit with the fans.

What is the achievement you are most proud of?

Many of the world’s greatest treasures are under continual threat to pollution, extreme weather, conflict, and age. I am very proud of the work that Scansite does to help monitor, conserve and restore these cultural and heritage objects. Such pieces are invaluable, and I believe strongly that effort should be made to conserve them for future generations.

It’s also amazing just how much can be revealed in the scan data, and we often see more than when looking at the object with the naked eye.

For example, we can see how a carver approached his work and tell whether he was right or left-handed. We can digitally assemble fragments until they line up and make sense. On dinosaur bones, we can see how muscles and tendons attached.

I also love hearing the back stories and hanging out behind the scenes of these incredible institutions. My dream is to create on online 3D library of these treasures, not only so they can be preserved, but also so they can be made accessible, digitally, to anyone on the planet.

What is your biggest challenge today?

Covid threw the entire business landscape into a tailspin and one of the most immediate effects for Scansite was redefining what it means to “go to work.”

There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to people’s comfort levels concerning the virus, and I feel strongly about giving our employees the leeway and support they need.

Yet, businesses cannot stand still, or they become irrelevant. Although we do go on-site, our projects typically involve receiving physical objects from our clients that are 3D scanned using equipment only accessible at our shop.

Additionally, resulting data sets can be gigabytes of information and not capable of being transmitted over ordinary internet connections.

Creating a rotating schedule for people to work in the shop no longer only takes into consideration your employee. Rather, it’s your employee, their partner, their children’s schedule and any other family obligation they may now have due to the pandemic. It’s quite a balancing act.

Words that best describe you: I’m a life-long learner that believes in the power of creativity. Some people think it has all been done before, but I think it’s just the opposite.

I’m upbeat by nature and failures are simply successes that haven’t been discovered yet. I like to push the technology envelope and feel very strongly that it has the power to help make the world a better and safer place to live.

I also value what others bring to the table and know that there are many paths to get to the same goal. I try to motivate people and give them the support they need to suggest things that might make our work better or more efficient.

The pandemic placed an extraordinary burden on women. They’ve had to deal with remote learning for school-aged children, plus juggling their own remote working circumstances. Personally, which of the adjustments you’ve had to make in your home life and career have been most challenging?

Covid has been stressful for so many people and, particularly, for women.

Initially, there was the fear about the virus itself and the fact that we couldn’t get much real information. It was difficult to figure out how best to proceed safely while maintaining some semblance of normalcy.

Currently, Covid continues to wreak havoc and people have had to make extremely hard choices. Safety verses money, homeschool verses pods, who stays home verses who goes out to work.

It has divided people and divided families. There is no one right answer, and people need to do what is best for themselves and their families.

I have employees with school-age children, and they are really stuck between a rock and a hard place. My own kids are grown, but they are in professions that required them to continue to go to work and I was very worried about them. We talked as a family and made the decision to isolate from each other, just as we were already doing from our friends.

The reality of what could happen was very scary and I didn’t like not being able to do something to fix it. It’s an unsettling feeling.

How about the women your work with, or know outside the workplace? What adjustments have they had to make?

Several women I know, especially if they have children, have chosen to put their careers on hold, or became part-time, to take on childcare or home/school duties. They did not do this lightly and feel it may be held against them down the road.

The truth is, income inequality between the sexes is still quite prevalent, and men are making significantly more money than women. Often, it’s simply a matter of budget as to who puts their career on hold and who stays in the workforce.

Lastly on COVID, which changes in routine or approach to your job you’ve made as the result of the pandemic will remain in place, either at work or in your outlook on your home life?

If there is a positive side to the past year, it’s the realization that we don’t have to be ‘pedal to the metal’ all the time. Life should have balance. Some people will prefer to go back to an office setting, while others can be just as productive from home.

The thing that I would like to see continue, is the choice to do either and have that choice be okay. There are many ways to “go to work” and I hope that we continue to offer options that better accommodate change as we move through our lives.

As a successful female professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?

I was young when I began my first entrepreneurial venture and I got quite a bit of direct questioning about my abilities, especially when I started the moving company. Now I work in tech, and it was a bit like jumping from the roasting pan into the fire!

But I had a good foundation and a family that always supported anything I wanted to do. I wasn’t aware that the way I was raised was any different, until I got out in the workplace and bumped into the negativity that can be directed at women.

It’s really important to do your homework, be prepared, and then professionally, but firmly, stand your ground.

How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?

Computing power and high-end graphic cards continue to get better every year. That means it will get easier for 3D data to be incorporated on the web and in many different types of devices and software.

High resolution, 3D technology brings realism to digital and creates experiences like nothing else. It’s the subtle imperfections and differences that breathes life into something and that’s what 3D scanning can do.

I see a future that will continue to incorporate more and more 3D into the workflow. It makes better engineered products and more lifelike digital experiences.

Who was your most important mentor? And tell us a little bit about that person: My most important mentor was my dad. He was smart and funny and always believed in my abilities. He never made any distinction between the paths I chose or the ones my brothers did. He also loved to tell stories interlaced with wisdom that taught us about life.

What advice would you give to a young woman entering your profession or the work world today?

Achieving your dreams is not so much the school you attend, or the connections you have, as it is sheer perseverance!

You will come up against those that question your experience, your commitment, and your thought process. Always be prepared and learn to speak up on your own behalf.

Most admired businessperson outside your organization: Brian Cornell

Typical day at the office: Begins early and runs late. Multiple projects happening at the same time means switching gears frequently!

Best place to work outside of your office: My garden.

Current reading: A wonderful story by Moshin Hamid called “Exit West” and a fascinating non-fiction called “A World on the Wing: The Global Odyssey of Migratory Birds” by Scott Weidensaul.

Most want to meet: Greta Thunberg. She has shown such tenacity and poise for someone so young. I want her to know that I believe in her and that she absolutely has the power to change the world into a better place!

Social media you most use: I’d rather be reading!

Stress relievers: Hiking, sitting by the water.

Favorite hobbies: Gardening. It’s also where I do a lot of my thinking.

If asked to brag, what would parents or significant others say about you?

My husband, David Bassett, and I have worked together since the day we met 34 years ago! He is an incredible ally and partner and, although we are different people, we work very well together. We trust each other.

Lisa Federici



1595 Francisco Blvd. E., Suite D, San Rafael 94901


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