Perfectly-fitting descriptions might be hard, but manufacturing definitely matters for Bodd

Bodd didn’t start out wanting to be a data and insights company, but that’s what they are, among other things.

Formerly Tec.Fit, their focus was originally enabling perfectly-fitting suits, designing and making scanners to collect physical data and large format 3D printers to create life-size models of customers out of PLA, saving numerous trips back and forth to a tailor.

But a few years after getting started, scanners and data-enabled insights are very much core business. 

As startups sometimes do, they pivoted, one of those terms that get used a lot in that community. Like disruptive, pain point, or journey.

The “j-word” is verboten at Bodd’s offices, though, and use of it means a donation to the swear jar.

“I think it’s probably more just poking fun at I think ourselves and the startup community and maybe the startup press,” explains Bodd CEO and co-founder Rob Fisher with amusement.

“Just poking a little bit of fun at the buzzwords that get thrown around. Things like ‘journey’ and ‘scaling’ and ‘growth hacking’ and ‘pivoting’ etcetera etcetera.”

Joking aside, Fisher and his team saw the standout opportunity in collecting and using body data, and have identified three sectors where this is most needed: uniforms, retailers, and pharmacies/wellness.

“We didn’t set out to become a 3D body scanning and data insights company, but through solving real-world problems in our clothing business we realised enormous value in the scanning space, which is where we have subject matter expertise,” adds Fisher.

They have recently begun shipping scanners internationally, with dozens in the field. They describe themselves as having “fairly lofty ambitions” to lead their niche, initially tackling the returns and waste due to poorly-fitting garments, estimated to be problem worth hundreds of billions of dollars globally.

This week they saw another bit of recognition along the way, earning Company of the Year at the 2022 Pause Awards.

Bodd is also an example of the frequent difficulty finding a neat category for businesses in and around manufacturing nowadays, due to the march of technology through companies and its impact on business models. 

It’s never been easier for a manufacturer to capture the data their products create in the field, make it useful for a customer and themselves, and perhaps even sell outcomes rather than finished goods. (As discussed in this recent interview with David Chuter of the Innovative Manufacturing CRC.)

As is the case with a growing number of businesses, Bodd uses a partner – in this case Bosch Australia Manufacturing Solutions – for functions like sourcing components, assembly and testing. 

It offers its products through a software as a service model: a customer gets a scanner delivered and they pay a fixed price per scan with a minimum annual amount.

So should we consider them a manufacturer?

 “…We can quantify ourselves as a manufacturer within the context of our business model. Our scanners are critical to our success, but they’re also a really unique product in terms of the functionality they have and the capabilities they have and it’s a product that simply can’t be bought in the open market,” explains John Lake, Bodd’s Chief Operating Officer, who joined the company from Bosch. 

“So we need to be self-sufficient as a company if we’re going to be successful. And that means that we invest heavily in terms of proportion of budget into R&D and we’re constantly working on improving the engineering capacity in both hardware and software on the scanner side, but also the cloud infrastructure of the business, and the data processing side which is also really driving our back end. 

“Ultimately we use Bosch as a manufacturer, but we are, let’s say, deeply embedded in that manufacturing process at Clayton… So we would like to consider, and we do consider, ourselves as an Australian Made manufacturer as well.”

In this episode of @AuManufacturing Conversations with Brent Balinski, recorded a month ago, we hear from Lake and Fisher.

We take a look at a startup that seems on the cusp of great commercial success, and which is at the same time hard to categorise.

Episode guide 

0:30 – Introduction to guests and to what Bodd does

3:22 – The evolution of the business. Starting out developing new technologies for the apparel business. Had a made-to-order clothing business focussed on custom-made suits.

7:10 – What their 3D printers are doing now. “You only have a certain number of hours in the day.”

8:26 – Why the word “journey” costs them money.  

10:25 – Where they’ve looked for and found investors. And why things are changing for the better with hardware startups.

12:50 – Sector focusses: uniforms, retailers, pharmacies and wellness.

14:46 – The relationship with BAMS, their manufacturing partner. Assembly, packaging and test happens at Clayton. 

16:30 – Further benefits of outsourcing production around sourcing.

18:30 – Primarily a SaaS company, but can still quantify themselves as a manufacturer in the context of their business model.

20:28 – Collecting more data from head to toe on a human subject than any other product on the market? And the ways this can be used in establishing wellness indicators from a single spin.

22:38 – Impedance and how it’s used.

23:10 – Customer data and keeping it away from bad actors. “Data rights are human rights.”

26:35 – Their “fairly lofty ambitions” to lead their niche, plus an explanation of what that niche is.

28:48 – Their take on why manufacturing matters, in terms of national security, and as an engine room for skills development, good jobs, and wealth creation. And why being Australian Made is an advantage as they look to build sales to Southeast Asia and North America.

31:10 – Why companies should be thinking about ethical use of data as an advantage.

Pictures: credit Bodd

This podcast episode is sponsored by the Australian Made Campaign Limited.




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