Additive manufacturing is turned on its head with adaptive manufacturing in the case of 3D printed insoles by Wiivv Wearables. CEO and Co-founder, Shamil Hargovan, explains the mind blowing process that brings these custom fit orthotics to life through 3D printing with unique materials and marrying adaptive manufacturing techniques with traditional ones. We dive into how custom 3D printed products fit into the marketplace, where to put the price point at to stay and remain competitive, while also being profitable – even considering a hybrid 3D printed final product for a mass customization market.
We’ve got a great interview with you today from a company that is doing something really innovative with manufacturing their product using 3D printing. The company is called Wiivv. It’s very cool. Shamil Hargovan, who is CEO and one of the cofounders. It is a company that is really doing something really interesting, they call it adaptive manufacturing. I really like that terminology, and we’re going to talk to him about it. It’s transforming the way they’re making product, delivering product, the whole process of it.
Their initial product launch is in custom fit orthotics. Not the doctor’s version but the one where you really do it for yourself because you’ve got high arches so you have issues with that. It’s not necessarily the doctors version, but it does the same thing. These orthotics are a product that replaces the ones from doctors, and it’s also insoles in general that you might buy over the counter but are not custom. These would be more customized to your particular needs.
I personally have some experience with them because I tried, after my third daughter was born, to run, to lose the baby pounds. In the process of it, completely gave myself tendonitis in my ankle because of both the way that I run, the way that my arches are and the way that my heel slips up and down in the back of my shoes. I bought one of these heel inserts. Never could get it to fit right. The other shoe felt weird. It was just the strangest experience, trying to find something when I knew nothing about what I really needed. They do it all for you in the way that this process works. It’s super cool. They do it for you but you’re involved in the process the way it is set up, it’s very cool.
Let’s hear about it. Let’s hear straight from Shamil.
Listen to the podcast here:
Adaptive Manufacturing of 3D Print Wearables with Shamil Hargovan of Wiivv Wearables
Shamil, thank you so much for joining us today on WTFFF. We’re very excited to learn more about what you’re company is doing to disrupt design manufacturing and distribution as we know it.
Thanks for having me, Tracy and Tom.
I love that term, adaptive manufacturing. You use it multiple times on your website and in your blog and how you talk about what you guys are doing. That it’s adaptive manufacturing. Explain why adaptive manufacturing is so important to your business and to where you see the future of business going.
Absolutely. You’ve hit right on it for us. There’s a lot of people who talk about 3D printing and advanced manufacturing and additive. When you really put it in the context of how you use all this cool technology, it’s adaptive in that there’s three main points. The first is the marriage of traditional and 3D printing, traditional manufacturing and 3D printing in order to make a product. Our footwear always has a traditional manufactured part as well as a 3D printed part to go with it because that’s how you get it to scale. We’re just not there today where you can say fully 3D print parts.
The other part of adaptive is this notion of distributed in nature. Our current thesis is to get consumer grade product to people, we need to have essentially commercial grade technology and capability that’s within a certain radius of that center we’re trying to serve. For us, all our North American products get shipped out of San Diego, California where we have what we call Ocean’s 11 vault. We built it once and we can replicate it in any other continent in the world.
The third piece is really this notion of the software and design processes that make it adaptive in nature. In our particular case, we actually buy and mechanically enhance our insoles and allow it to run through a software processing flow before we’re able to actually make that final product and have it get ready to be made out there in San Diego. Adaptive manufacturing.
Let’s talk a little bit about that process. There will be obviously information and videos and links to your site on the blog post. I really talk about the flow because you guys start with an app that the consumer uses. You flow through a whole bunch of things that you guys do that are special. How does that output? Let’s explain the overall process.
For Wiivv, it’s pretty simple. You take a mobile application. You take five photographs of your feet, in which we guide you through that process. There’s a lot of experience design that goes into ensuring we get the right capture. Once we’ve done that, we actually take your images and turn that using computer vision technology into data. That data then gets checked but it also gets manipulated in other words to become ultimately an STL file that a printer can understand. From that, we’re able to use that to actually print in batches a whole bunch of insoles at once in our factory. Then we stop the assembly process.
Is the 3D printed the mold or is the 3rd printed actually the sole itself?
In our case, the 3D printed part in respect to the insole is the actual part. There are good examples, like Invisalign that does the 3D printing as a mold. Then they use a cheaper material to make the actual part. What we make with footwear today, we are using the actual part being 3D printed. That’s probably one of the most disruptive parts, is we were recently, earlier this year, named the most crowdfunded 3D printed product in crowdfunding history. A large part of that is we are actually making the final part out of 3D printing.
What materials? It’s SLS and it’s a flexible material to begin with, which is I think maybe where the disruption, the mind blowing side of it comes for most people. We think of that powder as developing into something stiff and hard and not soft.
That has everything to do with the design. Our product, in order to get to that version of the product we had, we had to go through about 72 different iterations. Ironically, we did use 3D printing through the prototyping process to be able to test those iterations quickly. Ultimately when we locked on a design, we were able to add stiffness where we needed it, flexibility elsewhere, a little bit of multi material property components to the actual one material design. A lot of the magic is in the design itself where that allows you to get the properties you want for a full 3D printed part.
And the color too?
We’re not at color yet. I’m excited to see where companies are going with full color in the 3D printing process. We actually have to add the paint separate for this part of our assembly process today.
Because I saw that on the app you can choose your colors. So that’s an added process?
But still cool.
Yeah, customers love it.
It really shocks me to learn that this is an end use 3D printed product. I guess in looking at your site and reading about it, I thought it was done a little differently. We actually have some experience designing PU molded insoles for other companies as a product design. That’s a traditional molding process that’s done. We figured, they must be 3D printing the insole portion to whatever you need to do to support the foot properly or match the shape of someone’s foot but then creating maybe a 3D printed mold that you’re molding a material like PU in. In fact, you’re not. That’s fascinating.
Thank you. This is I think where Wiivv is really trying to showcase where the world is going. I think as a key insight though is we’re not using 3D printing for the sake of it. Some of the products we have in the pipeline for example, we use a higher proportion of the product is actually non 3D printed parts. The 3D printed part comes where you want something custom done to that product.
We usually use that, as we call it adaptive like we talked about, that marriage of traditional manufacturing and then where we want something custom, in this case on the insole, we primarily focus on the arch. Because we also need the length and the width to be custom, we do use 3D printing as well. With other products that are made for the body, you don’t necessarily need to make the whole thing 3D printed. It’s really key, from a business economics perspective, to make a product that can compete in the market. Mass customization will not be mass unless you can get those costs down.
The cost is pretty good. I was shocked at the price because I thought it was going to be a lot higher than that. There’s a lot of these companies where you go and you buy your running shoes and you go in there and they basically scan your feet on a little plate there and then smush a piece of foam into a heated machine and that’s about it. And they charge you $100 for those. You know they’re not great. They’re not doing all of the things that yours are doing. I thought it was really competitive.
Absolutely. The objective we set for the team was look at orthotics that you get from a doctor. Those go from $500-$600. We said we need to be orders of magnitude more affordable than that. We need to be competing with what you just described, the stuff you can get in a store. In order to offer custom at that price point, that’s really the disruption in our market. We’ve had the do several things that might be a little bit less obvious to actually get our costs down.
Always the way. It’s interesting you talk about this, products that aren’t all 3D printed. We call them hybrid products here. We actually think very similarly to the way that you do, that that actually helps a lot of both 3D print adaption but also putting it in the right places where you can really benefit. Because there are cost disadvantages to 3D printing in general or any kind of mass customization.
I totally agree. I like the way you put that actually, hybrid products.
3D printing is a wonderful thing but there are places that it’s very appropriate to use and places that it’s not. There’s no reason to make everything 3D printed if it doesn’t need to be. There are lots of great other materials that don’t have high tooling costs associated with them and things like that. It makes complete sense. It’s just we misunderstood in the beginning how you were doing it. That’s all.
There’s a lot of companies, for example a lot of footwear companies in our industry, who are making 3D printed parts. It might be the mid sole or it might be a portion of a shoe. What I think the missing opportunity is to get to true custom. Just using 3D printing because it has interesting material properties is I think phase one. Phase two, and this is where we live today, is we’ve been able to offer that hybrid product like you’ve said. We’ve got the top layer that is mainstream material that can be ordered. Then the shell of the insole is custom 100% using 3D printing. For us, that’s really when you can offer that custom benefit, it becomes worth using the more expensive 3D printing material. You can offset that cost by using traditional materials where you don’t need it.
That’s so true. I want to touch on the augmented reality side, because you’re a thought leader in that and an expert in that as well. Some part of the app has what is a little bit of mixed reality going on there. I don’t know, lack of a better way to describe it. It’s like you have a Snapchat filter going on over your foot as you’re scanning it, right?
Right. It truly is more along the lines of augmented reality, that’s right. Not to be confused with VR which is a totally different cool trend that’s coming up these days. The key there is you can do a lot with mobile capture. Frankly a lot of the big players in the mobile world like Apple and Intel and Google, Microsoft have just incredibly cool 3D scanning coming to market. You can see Apple and Microsoft putting a lot of work into getting every day hardware with creative tools to be able to take advantage of it.
We believe that there’s this big birth of 3D scan and AR technology on one side and then there’s this whole 3D printing and materials and colors and multi materials that are starting to come about on the other side. We see ourselves as a company as really wanting to figure out how do you like the two and make a really useful product. A big chuck of our team, and this is I think not so a-ha but I think to any product designer, there’s some things that don’t change about developing and designing great products. Which is you need an R&D product and design team to actually go through iterations, figure out what that end product would look like, how does it work with customers.
That process, we have to spend time and energy doing. It’s not like it can overnight be one of those things where you have a creation and everyone is going to want it. On top of that, you’ve got to build a distribution and a marketing that work around it too. We believe that there’s just so much in this space that allows entrepreneurs to take advantage of these trends on both sides and focus on building the product and the distribution around the technology.
Fantastic. We believe and have talked a lot about how we think that there’s a lot of job security in product design and development in the future with the different technology shifts happening in manufacturing involving additive, adaptive manufacturing of all kinds. Very exciting for us to see this happening. I have a question for you about the scanning aspect or the photos you’re taking of the feet. As technology improves, is your team looking at doing any actual 3D photography or scanning if you will of someone’s foot to get it even more precise?
Yes. That’s the next wave for us, is to embed the computer vision capability on the device, on the mobile device itself. More importantly, to be able to get that 3D capture and stitching it together with software. That allows you to now have a 3D render of the person’s foot that is 100% accurate. Absolutely. A lot of the technologies are going to give us a chance to do it. As you know, as product developers, you start with your minimum viable product… We realized we can solve the need initially without having to full 3D scan.
Of course. You got to start where you are. You did a great job of that for sure. I’m just wondering as it seems that every time there’s a new generation smartphone coming out, the camera gets more capable and some of them have multiple lenses now. Pretty soon, I’m sure we’re not even going to need desktop scanners or even computers at some point. These phones are going to fly to the moon for us or something.
I think it’s an important point though to also mention that while the 3D scan, it would probably take a year or two before you start to really see that rolling out on mainstream devices. When you start to see the 3D scan working and becoming more mainstream, on the flip side you’ve got very archaic 3D printing file formats like STL. One of the big challenges I think is to get to a point where we can actually use yeah full power of 3D scan in 3D printing. Because what’s happening now is even if you had a 3D scan, you’d still try to manipulate that data to fit an STL file. I’m very excited about the consortium that Hewlett Packard and Autodesk and Microsoft and others have formed around 3MF file format. I’d love to see more innovation on the file format side as well.
I think that’s inevitable. I know there are a lot of companies and there are some other interests I guess that may resist that more modern file format for a number of reasons. But it’s inevitable. The capabilities and once companies get hold of it, it will get pushed that way.
I want to touch back on something you said. It’s interesting, the investment you have to make into R&D. I think that that’s a really, we’re circling back into that. There have been large companies of course over time that have always invested heavily into R&D. Nike and Apple and all of those level of companies have always had a large percentage of their budget. Some of them upwards from 15-20% of their budgets are in R&D alone. We’ve seen so much of that disappear out of the general product, the consumer product world. Actually designers drop off and R&D in general just drop off of the retail world in general. It’s part of the problem that 3D printing has happened with getting enough traction and why I think companies like yours have the ability to disrupt so strongly. Because we’ve left this gigantic gap between companies that spend millions, maybe even billions of dollars, and companies that spend nothing. There’s not a lot in the middle. It used be very different about 15 to 20 years ago.
If I tried to predict where I think the world is going and for companies, and I think about this for my own company too, is where do I want to invest in building competency. To me, there’s really two things you can actually use today to actually ensure long term success. One of them is your innovation arm, the product development and design internally. You always got to be coming up with what’s next. The second is building a brand and a brand that people care about, that mean something. Because in terms of technology, everyone will eventually get access to it. In terms of the, you need to find a way to be able to have great operations, you can always find that. In terms of having scale, that’s stuff people can achieve by working with other partners. For us, what’s our core competency as a company is we always need to have a big investment in product design and development and then ultimately in building a brand that means something.
This is really interesting. I just attended a FutureX live event down in Atlanta. They were talking about virtual reality, augmented reality. There’s a lot of discussions about all of that technology and how it’s changing brands and brand tie in. What I think is really smart is something that you’ve build in here both in innovation and in your brand building, is that you’ve built in a human connection to it. By the mere fact that I’m participating in the process, I’m scanning my foot, I am actually already identifying myself with your brand. I’ve actually put my foot in it literally. That in and of itself is such strength. They were talking about they had done a bunch of studies at the University of Georgia where they had done brand identity.
You were in a virtual reality headset and you could see your arms. Granted, they were not even real looking arms. They were cartoon figure arms. They had a brand name, just like you were wearing a sweatshirt with the name of a fake brand on your arms. They did this study on brand identity to whether or not the person who was looking at themselves, looking down at their in the virtual reality, doing stuff or looking across at someone who had the name of another brand on their sweatshirt right on the front of it, which one you identified stronger to. Overwhelmingly, the ones who were wearing a brand always identified with the brand that they were wearing. That participation in the brand identity is so strong.
That’s fascinating. I think it stands to reason. Even for us, giving the person or the customer the ability to scan and then secondarily, the ability to actually choose their colors and pick their top layers and even later on in the process, tell us about how they may have used the product. So critical in involving the customer. When we hear from customers about what they liked or didn’t like about the product, that helps us figure out what we want to go build next. We’ve got to be listening to our customers at all times. Our product team is out there in all social media, actually reading what people write and thinking about how we make our product better. Over time, we believe it’s a skewless world. We just know that a product made for you this way is right. We learn you and then we give you footwear that’s made for you every time.
I love that. Skewless world. That is my dream actually. I dream of a world without inventory because it’s so much waste that goes on in that in both the design and development and launching process, money wasted because so few products succeed. It’s the seven out of ten failure rate. To be able to spend the money and the time and energy in the things that matter and not in excess inventory. That makes so much more sense.
I’m with you.
Shamil, as a CEO of our company, I really want to applaud you for putting the real critical importance and emphasis on product design and development as one of the major things you’re focusing on in your company. I agree, brand is also critically important. We’ve experienced so many companies that do not put a focus on product design and development and do not involve their product design team in reviewing customer service issues for instance. Like you said, they’re on social media and getting information first hand from consumers.
When I was working with a major US manufacturer, and this really before social media as we know it today, we would go proactively on our own as design team to the customer service department that at that time was only taking in phone calls from consumers about issues they were having. We would ask them, “Show me what your largest percentage of calls are on and what sorts of issues are they having.” We would use that as a feedback loop to help improve product going forward. It didn’t happen enough. That was like an a-ha.
Even still, a large portion of our early business that we did within the last 10 years was going on and actual reading online reviews of products. Companies didn’t even read their own reviews. It made our job really easy in that we would look like heroes bringing in just a minor modified change and all of a sudden the product is so much better. If the company would just read their own reviews, their design team could have done it themselves.
Absolutely. I think it is critical. To me, in today’s world, it is if you don’t do it, you’re in big trouble. For us, it’s not just having the conversation, which we do online and when we bring in customers for focus groups and things like that. Of course we’re a startup so we can only do it on a budget. I think there’s a lot of creative things you can do as a company to do it on a budget. The other part is for us to actually then synthesize that.
I can tell you which are the most frequently purchased colors and therefore if we’re thinking offering a few different choices so there isn’t too much choice, we know which colors we would go to first to remove and which ones we have to keep. There’s just things like that and the improvements we needed to make in the capture flow process that make it better for maybe somebody who’s a little older or somebody who has maybe a bit of a disability. There are things that we have been learning in how we do that just by talking to customers.
That’s so critically important because we have so much data and information. If we start to segment it and look at it from a, “This is what we’re hearing from our aging customer base and here’s what we’re hearing from the youth customer base.” You start to look at it that way, you start to think about new product ideas as well. That’s really where I think your business model is going to succeed so much faster than others.
You’ve built in a system by which you can, what we call stack S curves here. You’ve built in a system by which your next product logically comes in before you see a decline in your current product line. So few startups are able to do that, that they’ve built in enough to be able to get the first product out there then they struggle to build up a company and a brand and they do all of those things. They haven’t built in a system though on which they’re expected to launch the next product on top of the other ones. They don’t do it fast enough.
I used to be in the consulting world. I think it especially applies to consumer package goods companies and some of these furniture companies. You just think about all the different consumer products out there. There was one metric that we were working with to try and convince CEOs that they needed to think about. That was percentage of sales from new products and services. If you think of that metric, the world moves so fast. You need to find a way to have products that are relevant in terms of what you’re doing next and not just be a one trick pony. For us, I’ll tell you pretty openly here, it wouldn’t be too hard to guess the kinds of things we’re thinking about putting out in the market in the future by simply looking at what customers have said. It’s pretty much out there.
That’s the thing. You’re far ahead in your business model itself that you’ve built in the success that makes it a lot easier for you to stay ahead of that competition even if they were to get wise on it in one little area.
I hope so.
I think it’s so hard for a lot of companies to even contemplate that the product that they’re spending so much time and effort on and that their livelihood is made on is going to die at some point. But it is. Every product has a life to it. A beginning and then hopefully a steep growth curve. Eventually it’s going to hit the top and it’s going to crash. The key is accepting that and realizing you got to bring the next one in before the first one hits its peak and starts to crash. More than that, what you’ve done here which is build in a manufacturing model, a processing model, a brand model that will live on no matter what product it is and has a life and adaptation of its own.
That was one of the big things in our thesis for Wiivv in particular. When I remember pitching this to our earliest investors, I really wanted to get across this point, that everything we’re doing, given where the market is going and the technology, we expect to see a 40% increase in efficiency and disruption on our business model in the next three to five years. By that nature are saying we see a world and a market we have to go win in. If we do win in that market, with 3D printers becoming cheaper and the materials becoming cheaper, all the things we’re building today will be applicable to allow us to take advantage of that in the future. Even having the scan from the customer allows us to introduce new custom footwear products such that we say our goal in the next couple years is to create a footwear product made for every use for the customer. It’s really critical to think in those terms. It’s scary to build all that capability before you can fully take advantage of it. But I think it’s important to think beyond year one and year two.
Definitely. I’m going to put in my request. Since you’re manufacturing in San Diego, which is in our neck of the woods. I’m the type of guy that goes out and have bought the flip flops that you stick in the oven at 200 degrees and then you put them on your feet pretty hot and stand on them and it molds to your feet. That was old school way of trying to have a little bit of a custom fit. I want flip flops that I can scan my foot, send it to you and you’re going to print them out and they just fit me perfectly. Just in case you haven’t been thinking of that, but I’m sure you have. You can go to school on rainbow sandals, one of the most successful ones in California. They last 10 years sometimes. They last so long. It’s amazing.
I went to college in Claremont McKenna College down in Southern California. If you didn’t have a pair of rainbows, you were nobody.
It still shocks me though how few people actually do know about them and they’ve been around for so long. I go, “You just don’t live out here where you need them all year round.” So great.
That’s a great idea.
It may not be the right thing to go with next. This is one consumer’s request. Take it as you will. I want to know, where did the name Wiivv come from and what does it stand for?
It’s a bit of a funny story. My cofounder, Louis-Victor and I were thinking about what we’re trying to do and what our ultimate vision was. Our ultimate vision is to add active meaningful years to people’s lives. The thesis was we’re going to make products custom to the body. It was a little bit like weaving things together. 3D printing and the structures we were using were very much like weaving meso structures together. The reality is we couldn’t get the domain name. We started to get creative and we got a logo made for fun. We spent I think about $2,000 to make our logo, get it done right. Obviously it was really cheap. We really liked the logo so we go with the name. I’m not sure if it was the best marketing tactic because it’s a little hard to get at first. If people do hear about it, once you know it, you know it. There it is. That’s the true story.
I love it. I’m kind of partial, being a textile designer by trade, to the name weave in any way, shape or form. I do think that’s a really great image idea of you’re making body gear. You want to be the future of body gear. What better way to actually weave it on to your body? You want it to feel like an extension of you.
Exactly. As we think about our long term vision, we’re thinking smarts as well. There may be a series of custom wearables that are interwoven together to help you enhance your overall life and lifestyle. I think names matter. It certainly means something to us. We just got to convince the world for it to mean something to them as well.
It’s certainly a name that I think a strong brand can be build around for sure. You’re well on your way there. I like the idea of weaving these products into your life in general. Makes a lot of sense.
I think that’s a great place to wrap it up. Thank you again so much for spending time with us today and sharing what you’re doing. It’s really cutting edge. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for your company.
Tracy and Tom, thank you so much for having me and for letting me represent our company today.
Adaptive Manufacturing of 3D Print Wearables – Final Thoughts
I want to go get the app, like now. The app is so cool. I think it makes a lot of sense when you think about it as a company that really has a serious goal of being differentiated, having unique design, unique products and building a brand, it really makes sense to involve the consumer in the process to make the product. It’s custom for them. It’s just so smart. I’m interested to try out the process myself.
This is the interesting thing, it’s got such a complexity to how these need to be made. In a sense, you’ve taken something that’s complex but you’ve managed to simplify its manufacturing. There’s really an irony in the fact that you usually think 3D printing, it can’t get more simple than injection molding or one of these other processes. 3D printing is more complex and trying to figure out and trying the manufacture it. Here, you’ve allowed yourself to do something that would be extremely complex to produce and achieve the same quality results or functionality results. I love that. It’s wonderful application of 3D printing.
It’s a great example of how this technology is disrupting manufacturing as we know it. Think about so many technologies involved in this company are disrupting not only manufacturing but the customer experience. The internet is also this new world and reality in terms of modern business from 20 plus years ago. They’re utilizing the internet and then an app, custom app that you put on your phone. All of this and bringing it together. And 3D scanning technology, augmented reality. It’s a pretty cutting edge application of augmented reality after the couple days I spent immersed in that world at FutureX.
Seeing that is really amazing to have them put it all together in such a business, smart brand way. It’s really progressive for a startup. I almost don’t want to call them a startup. I know that they’re technically in that phase but I feel like they’re way beyond most of the startups that we talk to. I think they’re certainly at a different level than a lot of the startups that we encounter that either reach out to us or we just cross paths with through business networking and all that. They’re certainly very well-funded.
The other thing about them to me is, with what they’re doing, right out of the gate they seem to me like a market leader in what they’re doing. Even though they have a new brand they’re establishing and building, but that’s on a bigger scale. If you look at this world of insoles and custom orthotics and things like that, this technology is cutting edge which is naturally going to make them a leader in the industry because they’re not using old school traditional processes. They’re leading the path to the modern product and the modern way to fulfill the product and to create a new modern customer experience.
It’s completely ambitious, what they set out to do, but they’ve achieved it and in a modest way and are progressing in their overall goals. I think about it in terms of a mix between … What was that eyewear place that we saw? I try to remember their name. We saw them at CES. I had my head scanned or whatever. We talked about them again in the last couple months on more recent episode. I don’t remember off the top of my head what it is. Didn’t brand build enough for me to remember it. I know it’s the guy’s name or something like that. It’s not resonating with me.
Here’s the thing. You think about Warby Parker and how they disrupted eyewear and in terms of just creating a different delivery model of how to sell them. Really, the frames are nothing special. They didn’t really take them that far. They certainly didn’t make them as special as these custom orthotics that Wiivv is doing here. They could have. They could have gone that much farther. They only took off a portion of it where they said, “We’re going to change the delivery model and we’re going to send you them. That way you try them on and then you send them back.” It was perfectly fine for what they did and they certainly did change the pricing model of eyewear, which is really important and needed to be disrupted. But they didn’t get as ambitious as Wiivv has. Having got that ambitious I think is going to serve them well. I think it’s very exciting.
I think you’ll be able to look back in the future and say, “Gosh, what happened to the old school way of doing it?” It’s just going to be left in the dust. It won’t even be a competition situation. I also think the technology and the cost, as Shamil was saying in the interview, the cost is going to come down from what it used to be when you went to the doctor’s office to get custom orthotic. It already has come down. That’s going to make it accessible to a whole lot more people. You’re going to have a much bigger market you’re building.
They said they already plan, what did he say, 40% disruption in the model of it and costs coming down already. That’s really a smart way. If you’re going to go into a startup business like they are here and be at that startup stage where you’re maybe not making the revenue that you expect to be making or you’re not on that profitability model. But with the recognition that the industry itself is going to course correct for you and you just need to be positioned right for it, that’s actually a really great way. Rather than going in and saying, “I have no idea how we’re going to make money on this,” like a lot of startups do. “I have no idea what my profit model is.”
Their profit model is very clearly there. The profitability may not be there because the speed is not there and the machinery is not there and some of these things. But they’re progressing and on their way to being there for them at the same moment at which they will have built their brand to the right level. That’s the key, is they’re not just focused on a product. I know we talked about this a lot during the interview. I think it’s so smart.
They’ve clearly have a solid business plan that they’re working to here, which is about product development, yes, but it’s about the brand. They’re building products and a market for them and selling them, but they’re building a brand which is bigger than any one product so that you can just move on from product to product, keep building that line up, but you’re going to build a trusted brand. That’s something that businesses all too often don’t do enough. They’re focused on the shiny object, the one first product that they make.
We’ve even interviewed some other businesses that we think are very innovative and we have a lot of respect for on this podcast that are built around one product or maybe they’re even creating two or three. But they haven’t figured it all out. They don’t have a plan. They’re figuring it out as they go. Is there a strong brand vision or a real end goal in sight? Not always.
When I look to companies that I see being successful overtime and you study them, companies that just always are able to adapt, to use that word, even without adaptive manufacturing, are able to adapt to stay ahead to be a part of the market. It’s the ones that built in a smart business model, a smart distribution model, a smart brand model for being able to capture the market share and a smart growing product line. Because a good percentage of products come from your newest products. It’s always the way that it is.
They don’t have to be revolutionary new every time, product lines are evolutionary once you get started. Doing that makes a ton of sense, being able to build that and grow that. That’s where so many companies fall off and just don’t get to the level that they need or that their investors expect from them. Because they didn’t build that framework in all of those areas at once, for legitimately good reasons. You just don’t have bandwidth, you don’t have enough investment money because you didn’t go in with enough. They’ve obviously done all of that here.
I am a huge fan already and I haven’t even tried the product yet. I think we need to try the product. We’re going to go out there and try it. There’s a chance we may go visit their manufacturing facility in San Diego. We’re going to try it out.
If you are interested in ordering a pair for yourself, or as a gift, use the discount code WTFFF35 at checkout for 35% off your order. My thought is this is the right time for you to think about this because I’m sure you’re starting to think about what you are going to be doing come New Year’s Day, what your resolution is. It may be running. It may be getting healthier. There may be a whole bunch in that. Maybe that needs to start at the foot level.
I’m sure a lot of people out there are going to get, although it’s an impersonal gift a lot of the time, a lot of people get a Visa gift card or something in their stocking as a gift. What are you going to do with some of that money? Try out something cool. Especially if you’ve got some pain issues in your feet or some special needs in that regard that having shoes that are going to support you in the right way is the way to go. You might go and check this out and give it a shot.
We’re going to be hitting our 400th episode coming up next week. We’re going to give you not only our 400th episode recap of how we feel about the last 400, but we’re going to go forward and project into what we’re going to see for 2017 and what our vision is for the future. We’re going to be prognosticators. We’re going to predict what we see in the future. I think there are a few rabbit holes we could probably go down doing that, so that will be a fun one.
About Shamil Hargovan
Named 2016 Forbes 30Under30 for his contribution to the manufacturing industry, Shamil Hargovan (Co-Founder and CEO at Wiivv) is an Australian-born entrepreneur with experience building devices, apps, and services for Hewlett-Packard and SRI International valued at over $3B in revenues. Prior to that, he served as a management consultant serving clients in the consumer products and life science industries. Shamil is a thought leader in the 3D printing and augmented reality fields and is driven by the notion: that harmonizing art, business, health, and technology is key to unlocking human potential.
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