KickFlys: Wentworth Startup is 3D Printing Sunglasses
KickFly's, a small sunglasses company, is bringing its own creativity and ingenuity to the sunglasses market. Headed by Wentworth students, Colin Young and Justin Capoccia, and Wentworth alum, John-Michael Fragnoli, these innovators possess a passion for the environment. Their big idea is the manufacturing of sunglasses out of recycled material.
The ultimate goal is to collect recyclable plastic from the public spaces, extrude it into 3D printable material, and perform the sunglasses manufacturing. Recognizing their need for artistic talent they tasked lead designer John-Michael to explore the creative elements of their business.
The three met in elementary school and have carried an entrepreneurial spirit since a young age. They feel their ability to get along and work within each other’s strengths and weaknesses gives them a higher ceiling and resilience to adversity. This iteration of their idea began in April 2015 at Accelerate’s pitch round. Accelerate, Wentworth’s Innovation + Entrepreneurship Center, provides resources and funding to aspiring innovation teams. Accelerate’s goal is to facilitate interdisciplinary project work and teach lessons about business and planning while providing funding and resources.
Before working with Accelerate the group discussed their ideas with friends and family gauging interest and building confidence. They realized their recyclable material feature would drive people’s interest in their product and give them a footing to enter the eyewear industry. Once confident they began attending Accelerate events and seeking resources and guidance from the center. They developed a business plan and prepared for Accelerate’s spring “Pitch Round” where a panel of judges provided feedback and awarded dollar figures to teams to assist in the development process.
On April 9, 2015 KickFlys pitched for the resources to purchase a plastic extruder and prototype 3D printer capable of manufacturing to the quality they expected. They were awarded $5550 and obtained enough capital to purchase the equipment. $5550 was the most of that year’s pitch round and they felt proud of their efforts.
With the capital necessary to pursue their idea the team began the phase they are currently ending; the prototyping and design process. After ordering their printer and extruder they began exploring manufacturing techniques with recycled material to get an understanding of how the 3D printing process works. Other sunglass manufacturers use techniques like injection molding to achieve the industry standard. KickFlys believes the manufacturing techniques and designs they are exploring with 3D printing will allow them to more easily utilize alternate materials such as recyclables at the quality consumers expect.
Their current goals are researching methods to increase extruder efficiency and bring it all together. Looking ahead there are eyewear and accessory shows in Florida and New York including the Surf and Skate expo in Orlando and a private showing from a lense manufacturer in New York City. They want a working manufacturing process and a small stock for each show coming in spring 2016. Depending on the attention they receive in the next year they intend to invest in more printers/extruders and continue to expand; hoping to someday develop a network of talented designers.
Colin, Justin and John-Michael’s work is paying off; KickFlys is entering the next phase of the entrepreneurial process: Marketing and sales.
Ryan Crowe is a student at Wentworth Institute of Technology and a campus ambassador and contributor for VentureFizz.