Preface: Commercialization of Our Project
We strive to provide more practical solutions to the highly inefficient textile industry. Our team plans to commercialize our project after acquiring the first sample of colored spider silk (as shown in the demonstration). Since we already assembled a production line of spider silk from Molecular design to Protein purification and to Fiber spinning, we want to expand our production rate to reach industrial scale. We sought suggestions from investors and our intended customers to propose an applicable marketing plan.
I. Customer Discovery
Photoshoot of GreatBay_SZ members interacting with local school/community
After interacting with our surrounding communities through workshops and surveys, we found that most customers hold concerns about spider silk as a clothing material, questioning its price, safety, and quality. This leads to the conclusion that these factors should be especially addressed.
Besides, we also sought help from China Silk Art Creation Park (as shown in our Integrated human practice) for collaboration on exhibiting samples of our spider silk textile to better advertise our products.
II. Investors' Opinions
To learn more about capital views, we interview professor Jing Peng, a biomedical investor from Zhongshan University. After our team presented our design and results from our synthetic spider silk design, professor Peng suggested to us: "The result shows the successful expression of spidroin in the lab. Nevertheless, for the industrial use, capital will focus more on the stability of the expression system of Escherichia Coli (hereinafter referred to as E.Coli), the quality and productivity of spidroin, and the cost of it." The suggestions reminded us that cost-efficiency is one of the most significant factors for a project to develop into a successful business.
First Step: Setting Up Goals
After communicating with investors and customers, the following goals were set up:
- Competitive price for high-quality spider silk
- Strength and mechanical property that can prevail existing competitors
- Safety Guarantee and building of trust between customers and the company
Second Step: Form Executive Summary (Plan)
SPIDERMAN plans to be a synthetic biology cooperation based in Shenzhen, China, aiming to produce colored spider silk fibers and textiles synthesized from E.coli. Spider silks have received considerable attentions not only because of their exceptional toughness but also due to their biocompatibility and biodegradability. In addition, spider silks are also ideal substances in biomedical applications . Therefore, this material is highly valuable as a future substitution for silkworm silk.
Currently, our recombinant silk fibers are not yet commercially available, though small scale production has already achieved (as shown in our results). So, as we improve methods and compositions for acquiring a higher yield rate, our plan of raising revenues is by launching leading designs through partnering with fashion companies. Two existing competitors have used the same strategy-Spiber in Japan and Bolt Thread  in the US. Advertising new inventions through collaborations with art museums and popular brands can significantly help achieve commercialization. After communicating with Bolt Threads, we learned that reaching 20 mg silk/g DCW/hour will be the threshold for entering the market, and it will be our target goal.
Fulfilling customers' needs:
To reach Goal 1*, SPIDERMAN offers a unique approach to dying spider silk fiber. Our company's fibers will be colored using chromoprotein and can be dyed during the spinning process. This allows us to offer customized fibers without extra cost from other means of dying. After distracting the cost of dyeing from our budget, we are confident that we can give a competitive price that will attract vast customers.
To reach Goal 2*, SPIDERMAN designs a model of N terminal- repetition sequence (X) -C terminal; the repetition sequence (X) in the middle can be substituted. A different sequence of X (as shown in our parts) can lead to fibers with different mechanical strengths. Thus allows us to provide a range of spider silk fibers with different qualities.
To reach Goal 3: As a company providing synthetic biology products, safety for customers is SPIDERMAN's most important concern. We will guarantee our customers that all our products will not contain any pathogen, chemicals, or flammable materials.
SPIDERMAN's primary mission is to push for sustainable materials in textiles, and we hope our spider silk can also be applied in medical and engineering purpose. As an innovative textile company, we want our products to levy the least burden on the environment and also make it affordable for the public. We hope this business plan can help secure potential investors.
Third Step: Refine Technology
I. Product Description
SPIDERMAN offers spider silk fiber with customized strength and color; our fibers can be directly used in fabrics. The pictures below are minimal viable product (MVP) under microscope images.
II. Products Life Cycle
Left: Ideal model for products cycle
Right: the Estimate model for our product
Compare to the ideal model in the product life cycle, we estimate SPIDERMAN's products' will have an elongated introductory phase. The threshold for us to reach the growth phase is to increase the scale of production to industrial level, so we may consider opening fermentation plants focusing on mass production.
SPIDERMAN plans to file patents on our technologies on coloring spider silk using chromoprotein and our model of NT-repetition sequence (X)-CT, which allows us to develop customized spider silk. Two of our core technologies are derived from the strong link between chromoprotein and rep, giving us silk with different colors. This is documented in our part collection: BBa_K3264014, BBa_K3264015, BBa_K3264016 and BBa_K3264017, BBa_K3264018, BBa_K3264019. Beside the use of rep sequences, w sequences give different properties for spider silk, also documented in our part collection.
IV. Research and Developments
SPIDERMAN's primary focus is to develop high quality and biodegradable fibers, though we may later offer other branching products. Throughout our project, we discovered that unprocessed spider silk protein (Liquid before spinning) has extremely high viscosity and can be developed into biological glue applicable in engineering. Also, with the understanding that spider silk has 4-5 times the extensible as silkworm's fiber, we find that spider silk can also be used as a surgical sewing thread, so it is less likely to tear the wound. Designing other commercial products using spider silk will be our next challenge.
Fourth Step: Market Analysis
I. Industry Outlook
The global apparel market is valued at 3 trillion dollars, 3,000 billion, and accounts for 2 percent of the world's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Second to oil, the clothing and textile industry is the largest polluter in the world. The fashion industry produces nearly 20% of global waste water. It takes more than 5,000 gallons of water to manufacture just a T-shirt and a pair of jeans. Moreover, the major current problem is that only a few communities have textile recycling programs. About 85% of this waste goes to landfills, where it occupies about 5% of landfill space, and the amount is growing. Our world is urgent for a solution to creating a better plan for the textile industry.
Using spider silk as a textile materials is relatively new. The idea first started in 2010 and seemed to be a popular trend of research in recent years. Entering the market to compete with conventional textile is a big challenge. Meanwhile, the only two spider silk companies in the current industry claims that it is "theoretically" possible for man-made, protein-based fibers to replace some widely used synthetics (nylon). Moreover, the appeal to the US military is clear. It currently relies on nylon for its strength, but when heated enough, nylon melts rather than burns, which is dangerous for soldiers. Protein-based fibers do not have that disadvantage and can even be lighter and stronger. Admittedly, attracting a broader branch of customers and cutting costs are the two main difficulties in this industry.
II. SWOT Analysis
The following SWOT Analysis is based on the hypothesized situation when SPIDERMAN is compared to Spiber and Bolt Threads
III. Analysis for the market segment: Challenges for GMOs in the Chinese market
Before we start advertising our spider silk products, our team published an online survey to get local communities' perspectives of GMOs. Several of the questions are stated below:
*On March 13, 2019, the first company extracts food oil from GMO soybeans became listed in the US. From the perspective of a customer, what is your attitude?
A similar percentage was distributed on GMO potatoes, which shows less than half of our sample population willing to accept GMO food, and around 25% to 30% of the population go against or show no preference for GMO food. This scenario is looking much more different towards wearable goods such as GMO textiles. When asking customers' perspective towards spider silk clothing, as a genetically engineered product, their attitudes change dramatically. (This is shown in the chart below)
There is a pattern of a remarkable increase in the number of customers who are willing to consume GMO textiles than GMO foods. Thus it leads us to give a conclusion that the current Chinese market has more bias towards engineered genetic products that they consume directly into their body but care less about goods that are only used as decoration. Therefore, we want to use our spider silk products as a medium to rebuild trust for GMOs and give customers a clearer view of this technology.
Fifth Step: Develop Strategies for Implementation
I. Promotion Strategy
SPIDERMAN plans to collaborate with Marvel Comics and use some of their elements to advertise our initial designs. To increase public attention, especially the young generation, we found that comic symbols are more attractive.
One of our next coming up goals is to set up price. Since our product is still in developmental stage, it is difficult to estimate the production cost. The higher the concentration of protein production, the lower the cost of spider silk. We now have successfully reached a concentration of about 330mg/L. This is a relatively high concentration compared to our competitors. According to our research, the market price of a spider silk coat from Spiber is about $20,000. With our achievements, we can confidently produce the same product at a lower price.
SPIDERMAN company will function with a fully developed operation cycle: 1. Molecular Design 2. Protein Purification and Extraction 3. Spinning 4. Product procession and packaging 5. Delivery.
We aspire to atomize steps 2 and 3 to the greatest extent to increase the efficiency of production. Meanwhile, steps 4 and 5 can be outsourced.
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- Bowen, Christopher H., et al. "Recombinant Spidroins Fully Replicate Primary Mechanical Properties of Natural Spider Silk." Biomacromolecules, vol. 19, no. 9, June 2018, pp. 3853-3860., doi:10.1021/acs.biomac.8b00980.
- Bain, Marc. "Synthetic Spider Silk Could Be the Biggest Technological Advance in Clothing since Nylon." Quartz, Quartz, 8 July 2016, https://qz.com/708298/synthetic-spider-silk-could-be-the-biggest-technological-advance-in-clothing-since-nylon/.