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Mizzen+Main is a consumer apparel eCommerce startup focused on using advanced performance fabrics to make affordable, high quality, and good looking clothing.  They are constantly pushing the edge on fabric technology.  Currently their fabrics are water resistant, comfortable, wrinkle free, moisture wicking, stretchable, and do not look like normal performance fabrics.  The company primarily sells its products online but has in the last few years expanded to 400+ retail locations and popup locations.

The company is based in Dallas, Texas and currently has around 30 employees.

Why I like Them

Mizzen+Main is following the playbook that has made new consumer companies like Bonobos or Warby Parker such large successes - a reimagining of a long established product that is cool, good looking, and comfortable with an advanced design.  They have a die hard customer base among professional millennial males and have built their brand entirely online with social media.

I also like that the company is experiencing large traction with their biggest challenge their supply chain in order to match the product demand.  I would not be surprised if they are scooped up soon in the large retail and eCommerce war that is being waged between Amazon and traditional retailers currently.

Disclosure:  I have spoken to members of the team.





Xometry is a startup that offers a software platform connecting engineers to a growing network of 500+ machine shops for custom part manufacturing.  Their software allows instant pricing of any designed component, lead times, optimal manufacturing process, and immediate ordering - all with click of a button.  Think of them as the Amazon of manufacturing.  

The magic in their technology lies in their software's ability to provide the above for never before manufactured components.  The company gives their software away for free with revenue made from the difference between Xometry's quoted price and what the machine shop charges.

The team is currently ~100 people and has doubled in size within the last year.  They have fast growing traction with over 5,000 customers including 15% of Fortune 500 firms (23% when removing Financial Service firms) including GE, BMW, etc.

Why I like Them

There is really nothing quite like this available today.  It is a great example of how software can make existing manufacturing processes more efficient.  In order to understand how powerful this is, for any CAD object to be created, usually an engineer has to manually send their designs out to manufacturers and wait for quotes to come in.  This occurs even at large manufacturing companies building custom parts.  With Xometry, this all happens instantly with the software quoted price being what the customer pays since Xometry itself takes on the risk of their price quote being off from what the machine shop actually charge. Design engineers love the product since its a complete upgrade to the standard process with glowing feedback from users.

The company has a huge green field opportunity ahead of it with such a superior product to what is currently industry standard. The nearest competitor are firms like Proto Labs (NYSE: PRLB) which are on demand rapid prototyping companies which offer a single price and fast lead times for any custom part.  However, Xometry is a few steps ahead, able to get competitive pricing from hundreds of machine shops giving it the edge.

Disclosure:  I have spoken to members of the executive team.

Limex (TBM Co.)


TBM Co. (DBA Limex)  is a Tokyo materials and cleantech startup that caught my eye with an innovative product called Limex. Limex is a new material made from limestone (yes the rock) that can be used to make paper and plastic.  Currently 1 ton of normal paper requires 100 tons of water and 20 trees to produce whereas Limex paper requires no water or wood pulp.  It is also recyclable.  The original version of this technology is derived from a product known as Stone Paper developed in Taiwan in the late 1990s.  Version 2.0 of this technology, Limex, is much lighter, thinner, cheaper, with a paper-like texture.  In stereotypical fashion, the Japanese have taken a product from elsewhere and solved its primary challenges while making made it better and cheaper.

Limex paper is much harder to bend, tear, is age-resistant, and waterproof compared to regular paper (it can even be written on under water).  The company's primary product today is Limex paper business cards.  They also manufacture menus, posters, stickers, and other paper products.  The company is beginning to investigate Limex as a foundation material for other applications including cloth, and as a building material.

As a plastic Limex is also unique in that most plastics are composite materials whereas Limex plastic can be made into films and sheets.  Similar petroleum derived plastics are much pricier.

The firm was founded at the end of 2011 and is currently less than 100 employees.  The founder is Nobuyoshi Yamasaki, a true entrepreneur in the jack of all trades sense - he has been a carpenter, used car dealer owner, and serial entrepreneur of a number of different businesses.

Why I like Them

Frankly, the technology here is just very cool and novel.  Turning stone into plastic and paper in an environmentally friendly fashion is true product innovation.  Even better they have patents in 43 countries.

From a business perspective TBM Co. has a very long and steep mountain ahead.  Although the product is one of the most innovative I've seen recently, it will be a very hard sell, for them to scale beyond niche applications - regular wood derived paper is cheap, plentiful, and has a number of large established incumbents.  

Limex is a more advanced version of a Taiwanese developed product called Stone Paper that in the decades it has been out has only found limited, niches applications.  The main issues with the original Stone Paper product that Limex solves were it was heavy, expensive, with high manufacturing defect rates.  However, consumers who used the initial version of the product reported high customer satisfaction.  Limex appears be better marketed and distributed while solving the issues of the parent product.  At the same time Limex's ability to also be a plastic substitute may open interesting new applications.

LiMex paper and Limex plastic

LiMex paper and Limex plastic

Disclosure:  All information is from publicly available sources, I have not had any contact with a member of the company or its investors.