Q&A with Kegan Schouwenburg, CEO of SOLSLast Updated: September 1, 2018
Kegan Schouwenburg spoke to AGENT about life as CEO of SOLS, the company that’s using digital tech & 3D printing to revolutionise orthotics and footwear.
KEGAN Schouwenburg, CEO and co-founder of SOLS, has used her entrepreneurial energy to revolutionise the world of orthotics, foot support inserts for the shoes that are custom designed to alleviate pain, support the foot arches, and balance and reset any bio-mechanical issues in the feet, legs or gait of the person wearing them.
“I saw an opportunity to use 3D tech to change people’s daily lives for the better.”
It’s been observed that while foot support and orthotics are not the sexiest sector of business, what Kegan Schouwenburg and her team have achieved using 3D printing and iPad technology, is pretty mind-blowing.
And it has attracted the investors, too. Based in New York and founded in the Autumn of 2013, SOLS has raised at least $20m in funding to date.
According to the SOLS website, the company requires just three photographs, taken via the company’s app technology, to generate a 3D model of your foot. From this, the insole is printed and perfected, and shipped to customers in approximately six working days.
While there is huge potential with 3D printing, the process has yet to have its hugely transitional mass ‘tipping point’ moment, but the approach of Kegan Schouwenburg could change all that.
SOLS is not ‘just’ about orthotics. Kegan Schouwenburg and her team have experimented with 3D printed shoes, and there is a long-term goal to make its products not only wearable but ‘smart’.
Kegan took some time out of her busy schedule to talk to AGENT about SOLS her entrepreneurial experiences to date, and pass on advice to those who aspire to a life and career in business.
10 Questions for Kegan Schouwenburg
1. How did you first get into business, and describe your business goals?
When I was at my last position at Shapeways, a startup with the mission of democratizing 3D printing in its factory of the future, I saw such an amazing opportunity to use emerging 3D technology for something that could change people’s daily lives for the better.
2. What age were you when you realised you wanted to run your own business?
I think I always knew I wanted to be the boss, I’d have to ask my mom about this one, but it was definitely early on in life.
3. Who is your business inspiration?
4. What has been your biggest challenge in business, and how did you surmount it?
I think that finding ‘product market fit’ is a term that people throw around a lot but one that becomes especially important when you’re on the frontier of technology. Using emerging technology means you’re asking people to do something they’ve never done before, and figuring out how to make that fun, intuitive, and worthwhile investment for people is a journey. I think it’s a little easier if you’re opening a coffee shop, harder if you’re selling 3d printed products that you designed on your iPhone.
5. Work-Life balance: is it possible? How do you achieve it?
I love my job and that makes it easier for me I think. Most of my socializing is within my professional network, and a lot of people in the footwear and tech space have become great friends. I love discovering new things, and always try to surround myself by people I can learn from.
6. What is the first thing you do every day?
My cat wakes me up at about 5.50 every morning doing laps around the bed and begging for food, so my first move is usually to get it off the bed. Then, I reach for my phone.
7. What screen saver picture is currently on your phone?
It’s a photo of my cat Jeune doing one of those cat stretches that look so amazingly satisfying.
8. What is the most important app on your mobile phone, and why?
SIZERIGHT, the app that we’re currently developing. We’re excited about it because it’s going to solve the worst problem you deal with when you are trying to do your favorite thing in the world, buy shoes online. We answer the question, what size am I in this shoe, and am I going to like the way it fits?
9. What item do you never leave the house without, and why?
The only two things I have every day are my iPhone, and heels from United Nude. Everything else is replaceable.
10. What advice would you give your younger self starting out in business?
This is a big one, but the younger me probably wouldn’t listen. I’d say that focus is essential for anyone starting a business, and do the one thing you do really well, and then move on to the next thing.