When in 2014 two enterprising students, Dimi Moreels and Kristof van Thielen, had to initiate their graduation project, they soon found their way to the FabLab. The idea was to develop an ecological, trendy wallet, in line with their vision that nature and stylish fashion can go hand in hand. Getting rid of the perception that sustainable products are merely boring, but developing a concept that shows that eco-friendly products can also be trendy.
With the assistance of FabLab Leuven, the Pallet was created: a compact, trendy wallet made of bamboo, which can be personalized by engraving texts, logo’s, etc. Together with the Pallet the company SMTH Smooth (pronounced as Something Smooth) was born! Beginning 2014 founded as a Small Business Project, but after winning two awards (Hyundai Brilliant Young Entrepreneur award and Start-it @ KBC), the project made a start as a commercial business.
FabLab’s role in this project was much bigger than merely providing the machines and guiding young entrepreneurs on the technical side. Also, for the creative part the employees of FabLab were there for advice. And even while developing their business plan Dimi and Kristof were assisted by them. After the Pallet also the wooden smartphone cases, a clothing line of their own, wooden sunglasses and watches were added to the product line.
It’s clear that Dimi and Kristof owe FabLab a lot. More than that, their collaboration with Tomorrowland could be achieved partly thanks to the flexibility of FabLab Leuven: two of the lab’s laser cutters have been placed at the disposal of SMTH Smooth during the festival so they could engrave smartphone cases with a design developed by Tomorrowland. In terms of support to a start-up this may count.
Still now Dimi and Kristof make use of the services FabLab offers: at least once a week the laser cutters are being used at a fair hourly price. A big advantage for young entrepreneurs as purchasing the necessary machines by themselves would be a huge investment.
Behind the scenes FabLab Leuven continues giving them advice on further development of their business: ‘It provides us ease of mind’, says Kristof, that FabLab keeps guiding us during this adventure.’
SMTH Smooth was one of the first start-ups that was guided in such a way, and if it depends on FabLab, Smooth will not be the last one either. The intention is that more and more young entrepreneurs find their way with their ideas to FabLab, so that a nice partnership can be formed.
So, to all starting and aspiring student-entrepreneurs who read this, you know where to go 😉 .