The partner spotlight is a weekly series where we go behind the scenes with some of the companies that make VendorDB great. Next up is Wiivv.
Locations: Vancouver, BC (Headquarters); San Diego, USA
Year Founded: 2014
Specialties: Fashion, Wearable Technology, 3D Scanning, 3D Printing, Customization, Computer Vision, Biomechanics
What inspired you to start your company?
Personally, a high-jumping injury in high school that introduced me to foot orthotics and the frustrating experience around it. But on a higher level, Shamil and I had been working with 3D printing tech and recognized the same opportunity to make custom goods for the body. Shamil was leading 3D printing strategy at HP, and I had a business 3D printing vintage car parts. Our idea for Wiivv was at the confluence of several trends for fashion, wearable tech, 3D printing, 3D scanning, and personalized health – the timing was perfect.
How did the partners meet?
We first met at the 2013 Inside 3D Printing Conference in New York. We found that we had a lot in common. We both attended Claremont McKenna College, but at different times, and our families originated from the same part of Tanzania.
Why Vancouver and San Diego?
Vancouver is a vibrant city with a good tech scene and the Pacific Northwest is ideal to build a tribe for an active lifestyle brand like Wiivv. In Vancouver, we have Lululemon, Arc’teryx, and RYU to name a few successful examples. It’s also where I grew up. San Diego has a strong ecosystem for 3D printing, so it made sense to set up our manufacturing there. Plus, let’s not forget the credibility the California-association gives our brand. We’re West Coast, from BC to SoCal!
What was the first job someone hired you for?
It was a campus job at Claremont McKenna College. We cold-called alumni and asked for donations to the college fund. Fun fact: Jillian, the wife of my co-founder, was my manager at that first job.
What was the most technically challenging work you’ve created?
The Wiivv team achieved a lot by building and shipping the BASE custom insole, our inaugural product. It’s the first of its kind for an end-to-end mobile solution to get a custom product. Being part of our platform’s development was the most technically challenging, but also the most rewarding. Our customers love the seamless experience.
Which project is your most underrated?
I think our work on biomechanics at Wiivv. Behind our cool technology and product is over two years spent carefully tweaking the design and validating the science to make BASE perfect for every individual customer. We have a team dedicated to biomechanics at Wiivv and a Science Advisory Board that includes luminaries like Dr. Jack Taunton, a pioneer in the field of custom footwear for athletic performance.
Who is your most interesting staff member?
We recently brought on Will Andrew to be our Chief Commercial Officer. He has decades of experience in the world of sports apparel and even won the bid for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games with Elevate Sport, a company he founded. We’re excited to be working with Will because of all the expertise he brings as we grow our distribution.
What is the smartest work you’ve seen in the past year that didn’t come from your shop?
The 3D Architech by UnderArmour. It’s a 3D printed shoe that isn’t custom for form, but is using 3D printing materials in a unique way to fit cross-training needs.
How has the business changed since you started?
We were fortunate enough to secure venture capital and that has allowed us to accelerate the growth of our business. Expectations are higher than ever because of the massive opportunity we’re addressing, but we’re up for the challenge.
What emerging tech trend will have the biggest impact on your business?
Consumers expecting personalization for everything they buy. People walking on their feet a lot as a result of Pokemon Go is also a factor.
What is your biggest challenge at the moment?
Continuing to build and optimize our tech stack. In the process, we’re also building a significant competitive advantage.
What is the best thing about working at Wiivv?
Our vision is compelling and great people from a bunch of different disciplines can rally around it and produce their best work. We’re changing how things are made and personalizing health – it’s difficult to not feel closely associated with that kind of reason for being.
Where is the best bar in Vancouver?
Well…the best juice bar would be Krokodile Pear. Our company is pretty health-conscious.
Any wild company party stories?
In our earlier days, we rented a house for a week in San Diego and had our whole team there. The highlight was a cook-off we had. In true Master Chef fashion, we had judges, secret ingredients, and the like. Our advisors and mentors judged the event. The founders, Shamil and myself, were assigned cleanup duty – an absolute nightmare. I think it took us 3 hours to finish.
Care to share a joke?
What does “foot pain” think of Wiivv?
>>> It sees it as its arch enemy.
What does the future look like for Wiivv?
We have big plans to conquer the world of custom footwear. We’ll expand our insoles line to address a variety of use cases, and also venture beyond insoles. We want to build a strong ecosystem where consumers see Wiivv as the choice solution to get custom gear for the body.