ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Watch video on Youtube »

Feetz Funding

* $1.25 million from Khosla Ventures
* $275,000 from The JumpFund and its network
* "six-figure" investment from former Reebok CEO Uli Becker

Feetz touts that it's "in the business of reducing the negative environmental impact of footwear."

How?
* Shoes are made only when they are sold (made-­to-­order manufacturing)
* Additive manufacturing — commonly known as 3D printing — allows for the use of the exact amount of material necessary to make requested shoes.
* There are no scraps or waste because shoes parts are not cut from materials.

Feetz, the digital cobbler of startups, has locked down more than $1.5 million in seed funding, most recently from a Silicon Valley venture capital firm.

It also has gotten a "six-figure" investment from former Reebok CEO Uli Becker, who's on the company's board of directors.

Feetz, which moved from California to Chattanooga last year, makes customized footwear using 3-D printing and a phone app that customers use to take photos of their feet.

About 500 people have tested the app since January, and people have been wearing a few models of the shoes but nobody has paid for them yet, said Feetz CEO Lucy Beard.

That should change soon; the company is gearing up for a beta launch.

"We're saying weeks now, not months, which is great," said Beard, adding that the company doesn't have a firm launch date. Beard founded the company with her husband, Nigel.

Khosla Ventures of Menlo Park, Calif., invested $1.25 million in Feetz earlier this month. That happened at about the same time Becker invested in the company. Beard declined to disclose the exact amount Becker invested.

The startup also caught the attention of local angel investors last summer during Co.Lab's summer accelerator program, GigTank.

The JumpFund, which invests in women-led companies, put $200,000 into Feetz last fall, and its network invested another $75,000. The technology behind Feetz's product — and the promise it holds for wearables — attracted The JumpFund. So did the team behind the company.

"We really have a lot of confidence in Lucy and Nigel," said managing partner Kristina Montague.

some text The Feetz shoes are made by additive, or 3-D manufacturing, in Chattanooga based upon images of a person's feet sent to the company.

Beard met Becker through GigTank as well. Becker has family friends who live on Lookout Mountain, and his brother attended Lee University, Beard said.

Becker called Feetz's core concept "huge" and "disruptive to footwear and its processes as we know it today."

"This paired with the substance both founders bring to the table," Becker said in a statement. "I decided to throw in my experience and support to help build the company, so that Feetz becomes a powerful force in the marketplace."

A member of Launch Tennessee's master accelerator program, The Tenn, Feetz connected with Khosla in February during a trip the program made to California. Khosla made its decision within days, which was incredibly encouraging, Beard said.

"Lucy Beard came to us with her vision to never try on a pair of shoes again, and we're excited to help make that a reality," said Vinod Khosla, partner at Khosla Ventures, in a prepared statement.

Feetz is believed to be the first shoe company to offer an app that lets customers take 3D scans of their feet at home (or wherever) to be used to make shoes.

This is how the technology works: customers download the Feetz app and take three photos of each foot. Feetz uses the photos to generate a 3D model of each foot. Customers also tell the company their height and weight, and then select the color and type of shoe they want. It takes a few hours to make a shoe. The company, which has eight people on staff, ships them within seven days.

"I don't call ourselves a fashion; we're a technology," Beard said.

Feetz has a few models, casual styles, and doesn't yet make heels or athletic shoes. Prices range from $150 to $250 a pair.

About two weeks ago, the company was part of SXSW in Austin, Texas, where it landed among the top three finalists in the wearable-technology category.

The event put Feetz in the national news, helped in large part by the fact that funding from Khosla and Becker came through around the same time.

Contact staff writer Mitra Malek at mmalek@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6406. Follow her on Twitter @MitraMalek.

This story was updated March 31 with pricing information for the shoes.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT