For this week’s blog I had a chat with my business cofounder at Spider & Silk Supply, Vic Chang. Vic is a business graduate from Tunghai University in Taiwan (where I did a postdoc between 2010 and 2014). Since he is not a silk researcher or has expertise in materials science, chemistry, biology, or engineering, I thought it would be interesting to get his thoughts about silk as a product from a strictly business perspective, and have him share how it is he ventured into the idea of silk supplying without such a background.
SB: You are from a Business background, but joined me and my research partners in Taiwan on a silk enterprise. What is it about Silk that drew you to it this enterprise?
I’m a business major student and both of both partners are business people. I, at first, thought that there was literally no correlation in between any kind of business activity and the stuff you and other researchers do on silk.
The main reason I join the Spider and Silk Supply team and built the website (SB: which is truly terrific, see https://www.spiderandsilksupply.com/), and customer list, some marketing (see logo below), among other activities, along the way is because of a conversation with a friend of mine named Dakota Piorkowski (SB: a friend and long-time collaborator of the Spider Silk Research Lab also) who brought me into thinking about this whole new world of opportunity.
It was December 24th, 2020, when my friend Dakota hosted a Xmas eve party at Tunghai University. Toward the end of the party, Dakota starts telling me about this idea himself and his mentor I-Min Tso had to sell spiders and spider silk. They told me about their ideas around prompting the golden orb weavers in their laboratory to spin natural spider silk and to create a supply chain for these unique fibres, as natural biodegradable and renewable fabrics and fibres is a growing market that we should tap into. Dakota, at the time, was asking me as a business major student how would you start such an enterprise from scratch. I didn’t have answers there and then. This however got me thinking.
As my background of entrepreneurship comes from my parents selling raw materials of tire and shoe outsoles, and constantly growing to build their own factories. I had helped them do CRM (customers care management) and new client development, which became my daily schedule ever since high school. After a few years, I had the backup knowledge and practical experience to help the team grow. I therefore decided to call Dakota to say that I actually thought I could do this for his venture. I then had a meeting with I-Min, and later yourself, and here we are a year and half onwards and Spider and Silk Supply is a new business and taking off with clients engaged in Europe, India, China, Australia and elsewhere.
SB: What a great story. I think it strongly highlights what my book and these blogs is all about, the spirit of curiosity driving new ventures and undertakings and seeing where they go. I do want to talk to you more Vic as we go through these blogs week on week.
I’ll also follow this post up with pointing out that Spider and Silk Supply is branching, through various partnerships, into supplying silkworm silk, as cocoons and other products, and is looking at tech development opportunities and would love to team up on research ventures. Please contact us here or via the Spider & Silk Supply website if interested.