Well, more like a year and a half — that’s about how long we’ve been working on Electroloom, and we wanted to take a brief moment to recap how far we have come, and where we plan to go.
The image above is pretty important to us, for a number of reasons. Most obviously, it serves as a good snapshot of the progress we’ve made. As we continue to work on our technology, this timeline will grow. But it also gives us an important piece of perspective:
New technologies are difficult to develop, but we’ve already come a long way.
Textile manufacturing has been around, in certain respects, for thousands of years. That’s a long time for incremental progress to be made, new advancements in science to be achieved, and for existing technologies to gain scale and efficiency. By comparison we’ve managed to take our technology from concept to reality in just a year and a half.
And in this year in particular, we made some crucial steps that bring us closer to commercializing this technology.
Back in February, we announced that we had joined HAX, the world’s premier hardware accelerator based in Shenzhen, China. We quickly set up shop in their office and tapped into the massive hardware ecosystem that Shenzhen has to offer.
It is difficult to describe what it is like to build hardware in Shenzhen. Our office was situated in Huaqiangbei, home to some of the world’s largest electronics markets. Sourcing components was as easy as walking a few blocks away, or placing an order on Taobao, which frequently resulted in same or next day deliveries (including CNC, laser cut, or 3D printed parts).
Because of this environment, it is often said that 1 week’s worth of work in Shenzhen is equivalent to 1 month’s work in the United States. While we can’t exactly verify how accurate that statement is, the speed of work was a huge advantage to our prototyping process.
As a result, we spent January-May of this year iterating prototype after prototype until we hit a major milestone: our first seamless, wearable garment manufactured with our technology.
HAX afforded us an amazing opportunity. We spent 3.5 months working alongside 14 other companies from around the world, all with the same goal: to use our time there to bring our products closer to launch.
Upon returning to the United States from China, we launched our Kickstarter campaign to source alpha users. At first glance, it was an unconventional Kickstarter. We were not launching a full product or seeking to achieve massive scale. Instead, we wanted to leverage the passionate Kickstarter community to find our first small batch of users who wanted to become Electroloom Developers. These users will be crucial for us, as they will manufacture, design, and create with our Alpha Machines, providing us with critical feedback along the way to better inform a future commercial product.
Since the campaign closed, we’ve already begun taking phone calls and setting up meetings with our machine backers. We even ran into some of them at Decoded Fashion’s Tokyo Summit after Aaron gave a presentation on the technology.
Since the close of the campaign, one thing has become extraordinarily clear — our backers are eager to begin using Electroloom so they can explore and create the world of printed fabrics. We are now transitioning into our next big build phase — in which we fine tune our machinery, and get our technology ready for our backers.
For now, the future is about building. And not just the hardware, but also our team. We’ve stayed small and lean for the past 1.5 years, but now that we are picking up steam, we are ready for a larger, more dynamic team. The end of 2015, and certainly onward into 2016, will bring us more trips to China, more hires to help pave the way for the future of printed fabrics, and more updates to the world on the progress we are making with Electroloom.
Thanks for sticking with us so far — we’re excited to keep you posted.
❤ the Electroloom team