Behind The Scenes Part Five: Matt Gooch, Director of Product and Innovation.
Matt relies on both his academic and athletic background in his role as Research and Education Manager. With deep expertise and knowledge in the biomechanical field, it was his time spent participating in sports and working with collegiate athletes that crystalised the concept of personalization as the preferred approach over one-size-fits-all. Drawing on the corollaries between creating and tailoring training programs for athletes to tailoring and personalizing products is precisely where Flowbuilt presents an optimal solution. The difference is: these products are for everyone.
Tell us about your background and how you’re drawing on it to help with your current role at Flowbuilt.
In the simplest of terms, I work with our development team to validate what it is that we’re doing in Flowbuilt. I serve as a consultant on the front-end as we meet with brands to explain how they can benefit from working with Flowbuilt. I explain the technology and product solutions that can bridge the gap between what potential brand partners are doing and how we can help them achieve a tangible solution. I also work alongside the Flowbuilt team through the testing and validation process, not only on the materials, but also from a biomechanical perspective.
My experience with Superfeet has been instrumental and an added value to my role with the Flowbuilt team. And my work with tailoring training programs for athletes has also provided me the mindset that there isn’t just one way to approach a situation or solve a problem. Bringing an open mind and a sense of creativity to the task at hand has been incredibly helpful for the work at Flowbuilt.
How do you describe Flowbuilt to a prospective partner?
Flowbuilt turns data into reality. Think about it - right now we’re surrounded by an enormous amount of data, it’s a huge boom of ‘quantification of self’ in all these different ways. It’s a watch, it’s a phone...there are all these different metrics, but not necessarily a clear pathway for what to do with that data.
Flowbuilt represents the ability to take the data that can be gathered about a person, such as precise fit, and turn it into something real. It’s an incredibly unique space in the market because of our ability to do just that across multiple and various facets of technology. And as the technology continues to advance, Flowbuilt is able to build more and more layers of personalized elements into the products we’re creating.
What is Flowbuilt’s unique value proposition for your prospective partners?
The beauty of what Flowbuilt represents is the ability to take data and make, in real time, what traditional footwear manufacturing simply can not do. Currently, the use of 3D printing is primarily for prototypes, to better illustrate design, occasionally function, but usually it’s an intermediate step that happens before you can begin making molds. The creation of molds and lasts typically take six to eight weeks. With Flowbuilt, our 3D printing capabilities mean you can take something from design to a 3D printed mold or last in a matter of weeks. The ability to truncate that timeline is an incredibly valuable aspect of Flowbuilt.
North America is now where this work takes place, so there’s no need to travel halfway around the world to work with manufacturing partners. Our brand partners get to the market faster and shorten their development cycles, which currently lasts around 18 to 24 months. And that’s just in regards to inline product. If you think about the personalization aspect, we’re able to make one prototype for one brand, or one pair of footwear specific to one individual.
What, if anything, has surprised you about Flowbuilt since you started working there?
I think sometimes you go into a new endeavour with presuppositions, some of which prove to be true and others that are absolutely not. I think we found out very quickly that we had to be very good at both conveying our message and also executing the work. As we talked to brands, they really liked the idea of Flowbuilt, but because it’s so outside of their traditional process, they weren’t able to see how to implement it into their current workflow. So while we had the experts that know how to run the machines and make the technology work, we needed to have a team to help link the entire process together and connect the dots for our partner brands.
What obstacles do you foresee Flowbuilt needing to overcome?
It’s an interesting question because I don’t actually see ‘problems’ but more so further validations that Flowbuilt is perfectly poised as a solution. The uncertainty around trade wars is a perfect example of why localized manufacturing is incredibly essential to the long term viability of everything we’re trying to do. From an economic perspective, the large variations in price that are unplanned and unexpected are terrible for everyone. They’re terrible for the brands, they’re terrible for the consumers. But again, those aren’t things that I necessarily see as obstacles, but rather affirmations that we are on the right track - the right solution at the right time.
In future posts, we’ll also take a closer look at some of the challenges and issues facing today’s manufacturing industry as a whole, and how we are using new innovations - and existing technologies in new ways - while looking to turn the entire industry on its head.