005 – Yoel Fink – Impact on the Textile Industry

005 – Yoel Fink – Impact on the Textile Industry


[MUSIC PLAYING] YOEL FINK: So very
few textile mills have survived over the
past 20 or 30 years. Most of them have gone to Asia. And there’s a very
acute sense of things have to change pretty
dramatically for us for them to survive. Owners of those mills– many of them are
members of our network who have told me the
fabric business was a great business as long
as there was innovation on the fiber front. Once the large companies
stopped innovating in fibers, like they did nylon,
and Spandex and Kevlar. And so on once the big companies
stopped innovating in fibers, the importance of
the fabric industry diminished and became much
more of a commodity industry. They very much understand how
this story of really injecting a new meaning and new
functioning into fibers could, in fact,
transform their industry. So on the one hand,
they understand that competing on a
commodity is not going to be a good thing for them. So there is impetus to change. And on the other hand, a lot of
those family-owned businesses still remember the
times when there was real innovation
in fibers and what that meant to their industry. And for both of those
reasons, they’re actually here at the
table working very hard to try to figure out ways
to get these new materials into their processes
and fabrics. Yeah, so the barrier
to joining is very low. Typically, a
manufacturer would need to be a very low membership fee,
maybe, I would say, 10K a year. What they would then do is sign
up for our prototype network. They would typically
tell us what are the things that they
know how to prototype, and they’re willing to prototype
for our advanced fabric network. We would list those on our– we have it’s almost
like a social networking site for rapid prototyping. We list those capabilities
and then start running projects through them. So suppose you’re a company
in South Carolina that knows how to weave. And we then have a project that
involves getting light emitting diodes into a woven matter. We would then fund
the project to have you get these new materials
into your weaving machines. So that’s typically
how it works. So we fund these what
we call micro awards, and these are these
90-day projects. So that’s what it involves
on the manufacturing front. Product companies are trying
to differentiate themselves in an area which up till now
has been all about design. And true differentiation
and advantage on design is very hard to come about. Very few companies are able
to sustain an advantage in area of design. You may have a good
design for one year, but the next year, maybe
your competitors can have it. And so what they’re
trying to do is really build products that have
a sustainable, competitive advantage associated
with that which stems from this new technology,
which is IP protected. And so what they’re
asking us to do is help them design
innovative products that are truly differentiated
that provide customers with new types of
experiences through fabrics.

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