Productivity game-changer when DOUBL tapped into R&I expertise in software and business

DOUBL team

Co-founders, Jessica Bosman and Bryn Davis Williams, reviewing their product and celebrating as they reached their Kickstarter goal

According to the Bank of Canada, Canada has a productivity problem. In fact, Canada has seen no productivity growth in recent years. This is important because several factors threaten to drive inflation persistently higher in the future. How can we fix it?

Strong productivity—which leads to faster growth, more jobs, and higher wages—is an important way to protect the economy from the risks of high inflation.

There are two basic strategies to improve productivity: focus the economy on industries that add greater value, and be more efficient with the work we’re currently doing.

That’s why DOUBL, a tech company revolutionizing the bra industry, turned to the Research & Innovation (R&I) division at Niagara College to help automate their software and back-end processes and zero in on their target markets, all in the name of improved efficiency.

A unique piece of this partnership is having the industry partner tap into two of R&I’s Innovation Centres. “It’s not just the technical solution that’s important, but it’s the wraparound of making sure there’s a market for the product at the front end and the company has sales and marketing support at the back end,” said Neil Wilkinson, Research Program Manager for the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC). “So this final solution gives the industry partner the wherewithal to take the product to market confidently and be successful.”

DOUBL uses 3D measurement technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create made-to-measure bras that can be ordered in less than 5 minutes, without even leaving the house. Ordering a bra is as simple as visiting their website, selecting the colour and style you want and checking out. Then you are sent an e-mail that walks you through the process to scan yourself, fully clothed, using your smartphone. The whole process takes 1 minute. They then use an AI pattern-making software to create individualized patterns suited perfectly to your measurements. Your bra, made in size “YOU”, then arrives on your doorstep a few weeks later.

However, what’s described above is the ideal state, notes Jessica Bosman, co-founder of DOUBL. “The reality of our current state is not scalable as the processes are too manual and far too time consuming. DOUBL is a very-tech-enabled company, and we were getting to the point where it was critical to start linking our licensed softwares in order to better scale our business and enable faster customer fulfillment,” Jessica said.

The three main challenges that DOUBL came to R&I with focused on programming, physical manufacturing, and business development. They needed the WAMIC team to find solutions that took them from manual to automatic when it came to programming and physical manufacturing, plus they wanted the Business & Commercialization Innovation Centre (BCIC) to help them better understand their target markets and use social media and new photography assets to support and meet their self-run, crowd-funding launch.

On the WAMIC team, Nicolas Dunning, Computer Programming Research Associate, was the guy for the job since had the experience to back it up. He has been with WAMIC for over a year now, starting out completing his four-month co-op position, then working part-time as a Research Assistant. “I was brought on to try and solve DOUBL’s process and make it smoother, simpler, and quicker in the back end so that the customer has a more positive experience,” said Nicholas.

“It’s not just the technical solution that’s important, but it’s the wraparound of making sure there’s a market for the product at the front end and the company has sales and marketing support at the back end.” Neil Wilkinson, Research Program Manager, Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre

His goal was to get a workflow application that takes several of DOUBL’s processes and turn them into one piece, that way, everything can communicate along the way, and all the data that needs to go to various locations actually goes to those spots.

Along with two other team members, they created three pieces of application. One handles automation (email reminders to customers, order confirmation and more); the second handles scanning and downloading; and the third is the ability to retrieve those scans from its third-party resources and get them to the pattern maker with the click of a button.

Before this work was completed, it could have taken months to go through all these processes manually. Now, thanks to the work of the WAMIC team, DOUBL’s processes have been cut down to only a few weeks.

“It’s a very good experience (getting to work on projects such as this). It gives you an idea of what you’re going to be doing in the real-world,” said Dunning. Not to mention, he got the chance to flex his presentation and communications skills in meetings with the industry partner, too.

“The nice thing about the model we have at Research & Innovation is that we try and keep students after multiple co-ops and provide them opportunities to work as Assistants and Associates. It’s truly a talent pipeline where these students gain soft skills, leadership skills and employability skills,” noted Neil.

Jessica had only positive things to say about the students and graduates with whom she engaged. “They (WAMIC) were a really great team, super effective and efficient,” she said.

“Nic stepped up on this project and got a chance to be creative. The solution he came up with used existing features of Shopify and then added in and reused other software to meet the client needs. It’s classic applied research by definition and is very much within R&I’s DNA – taking something that already exists and combining it with other things to reach a solution that works for the industry partner,” added Neil.

While the WAMIC project was underway, Jessica’s co-founder Bryn Davis Williams, was working with the BCIC simultaneously on a business-related project identifying demographics, target markets, and a paid social media campaign. Over the summer months, there’s a photoshoot scheduled to update their website with assets showing the finalized products. “We’re looking forward to the photoshoot because that’s our chance to bring all of this research to life, in a way,” said Jessica. “These photo assets will show our finalized product and will reflect our core demographic of women from the ages of 50-70.”

Once the BCIC project is complete, and all the WAMIC solutions are running smoothly, DOUBL is planning a hard launch into all North America which will drastically increase revenue. Efficiencies in both the front and back end will save them costs as well as improve productivity.

Jessica and Bryn were proud to share that they successfully launched through Kickstarter, achieving their initial goal of $10K in less than 12 hours and ultimately ending the campaign at more than $32,000.

You can learn more about WAMIC or BCIC’s resources and capabilities by visiting our website. 

Start the conversation with us today. Together, we will determine how best to meet your needs, whether we perform a quick turnaround service, or a full innovation project. For research and development partnership opportunities, contact David DiPietro, Manager, Business Development, at [email protected].