Wiivv Wearables Kickstarter campaign lets Canadians get on ground floor of a footwear revolution

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      (This article is sponsored by Wiivv Wearables Inc.)

      Normally when one hears the term bionic, it conjures up thoughts of the Six Million Dollar Man, played by Lee Majors in the hit 1970s TV show. His character’s body was rebuilt with superhuman strength, vision, and speed, and became a 20th-century icon.

      Now a Vancouver company is taking bionics in an entirely new direction. It's accomplished this by combining an innovative smartphone app with 3-D printing to deliver out-of-this-world, digitally mapped footwear for the 21st century.

      In the past 15 months, Wiivv Wearables Inc. has already set two records for generating the most crowdfunded pledges on Kickstarter in history for a 3-D printed product.

      The first came when it raised $235,000 to fund customized 3-D printed insoles. Its has surpassed that and aims to raise $600,000 to produce custom-fitted leather sandals.

      “We really want to try and see if we can take this to the next level and get as many people to back this so we can actually bring this product to market,” Wiivv CEO and cofounder Shamil Hargovan said on the line from his Gastown office.

      Watch this video to see how Wiivv's products are created.

      According to Hargovan, the custom-made insoles were a runaway success, selling 15,000 pairs. He revealed that because these products are custom-made, there has been less than a one percent return rate. That’s a staggering success in the online world, let alone in conventional retail.

      “The second product is to demonstrate where we ultimately want to go, which is to make custom footwear beyond the insole,” Hargovan said.

      The key to a perfect fit every time comes in the precise measurements achieved through the app. It ensures sandals and insoles will not cause pain the foot, the ball of the foot, or in the arch.

      Hargovan and his cofounder, Louis-Victor Jadavji, have already made Forbes magazine’s prestigious 30 Under 30 list for their manufacturing breakthrough. They have 30 employees in Vancouver and manufacture the insoles in San Diego.

      That’s where the Kickstarter campaign comes in. If the company is able to sell 25,000 pairs of custom-made insoles or custom-made sandals per year in any country, including Canada, Wiivv will build a manufacturing plant there.

      That’s because 3-D printing allows the company to produce as many products as are needed, rather than building in unnecessary capacity for demand that might not materialize.

      “We’re a Canadian company,” Hargovan said. “We really are hoping to find local help to make this possible.”

      Hargovan, former 3-D printing business lead at Hewlett-Packard, also noted that Wiivv has attracted “great investors”, including the Nordstrom family and respected venture capital firms such as Eclipse and Real Ventures.

      The company also has a scientific advisory board that includes UBC sports medicine expert Dr. Jack Taunton, BCIT prostetics and orthotics and biomechanics expert Dr. Silvia Rashke, and nationally recognized biomechanist and orthotics expert Dr. Chris MacLean.

      “Whenever we put something out on the market, we get professionals and expert to help validate what we’re doing,” Hargovan said.

      So how does it work? According to Hargovan, the “secret sauce” is the company’s software, which turns 2-D data into biomechanically enhanced footwear.

      “We had to build it to prove what’s possible,” he noted. “But our longer-term vision is to have 80 percent of our revenue come from partnerships.”

      In other words, Wiivv may one day make its software available to industry giants, such as Adidas and Nike, to allow them to customize their products for their customers.

      The global footwear market is currently worth about $360 billion annually, according to Hargovan. He predicted it will reach $500 billion by 2025.

      “This is a big vision and it’s a big opportunity,” Hargovan declared. “The options can vary. One is staying private and working with lots of brands. But the other opportunity is to just scale this in the open market and get the fuel we need to really grow this to its true potential. We’re getting people to understand what’s possible.”

      So is Wiivv Wearables a disruptor along the lines of Amazon or Google, which radically altered the business landscape in their fields?

      “We really do believe we’re leading a transformation,” Hargovan replied, “but our strategy is not reckless. We’re doing the legwork to show that the 21st century will look like in terms of apparel, footwear, and other products.”

      Visit the Kickstarter to help back this project.

      (This article is sponsored by Wiivv Wearables Inc.)