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24 March, 2021 - 10:18 By Tony Quested

Arm co-founder weighs into pre-seed round for intelligent clothing pioneer

Decorte Future Industries, a Cambridge-based intelligent clothing startup, has raised an oversubscribed $585k pre-seed round from US and UK investors.

Arm co-founder and former director Mike Muller has invested in the exciting business which is now set to raise a VC-led seed round over spring and summer.

DFI is a full-stack company that invented a new, cost-effective way of integrating technology into clothing, turning wearables into a digital platform that can actively and continuously monitor health as well as empower the wearer. 

Cheaper, more intuitive and more effective than most wearables, which connect with only a comparatively tiny part of the human body, the variety and accuracy of its sensors allows DFI’s intelligent clothing to achieve ‘actionable data’ – of sufficient quality and variety for the individual or third parties to take action. 

Underlying its architecture is the company’s closely guarded patent-pending ‘exospine’ technology, which allows clothing to expand or contract in order to fit the wearer.

Having received wide-ranging interest from sectors ranging from defence – including a letter of endorsement from an agency in the UK Ministry of Defence – to emergency services, sports and healthcare, the company picked domiciliary care as its beachhead and testing market. 

Patients in care are some of the most complex of any sector, and continuous monitoring has been associated with an up to 71 per cent reduction in hospitalisations. The company has a range of ongoing and future partnerships lined up across these sectors. 

Mike Muller said: “I’m excited to see products and services that can help address the pressing problems of cost and quality in social care. These issues will only increase in the coming years with our changing demographics and pressure on healthcare budgets. 

“Intelligent technology underpinned by Machine Learning is one of the few ways to address these challenges at scale.“

As previously reported, the company was chosen for the Techstars London 2020 cohort, graduating from the world-leading accelerator in December. The US accelerator was the lead investor in the company’s pre-seed round, alongside a number of angels, which include two former CTOs of billion dollar companies. 

DFI also secured two consecutive equity-free investments through Innovate UK, the UK government’s innovation agency. Amongst the advisors gained over the course of the accelerator are lead mentors from Google, Palantir and other tech giants.

DFI founder and CEO, Dr Roeland Decorte, said: “Combining the deep technological expertise of the Cambridge Cluster with the technological and commercial bravado of the London and US tech scenes provides just the right type of rocket fuel for a company such as ours. 

“With our advisers and investors ranging from Silicon Valley to Cambridge-based companies such as Raspberry Pi and Arm, as well as our links to the university, we’re able to leverage both the fast growth and lean models from the US as well as the technological know-how and unrivalled academic prowess of our immediate surroundings. We’re super fortunate in that regard.

“The assistance of individuals such as Gordon Hollingworth – CPO at Raspberry Pi – was crucial when it was essentially just me and a prototype and continues to underpin our hardware and software development, whereas the Techstars programme and its host of US and UK-based investors absolutely supercharged our growth and company structure. 

“It was clear from the start, going into Techstars, that this was an explosive combination: not only were we eventually offered investment by an all-star team of angels due to Techstars’ amazingly powerful network, but even among our small cohort of fellow companies and staff, five individuals asked to invest – of which we accepted two. Such an endorsement from fellow entrepreneurs was humbling.

“Most important to us, from the start, was to pick a group of investors in the pre-seed stage that could provide a constant stream of support and expertise – what Cambridge angel Peter Cowley would call ‘invested investors’. 

“The fact that we were oversubscribed allowed us to do so. It’s thrilling to sit in investor meetings with such a great and involved group and with such a wide range of unrivalled experiences: from Susan Standiford who has an unparalleled background from Oracle to CTO at IKEA and Disney Online (and who shares my obsession with biohacking and biometrics), Mike Muller, co-founder and ex-CTO at ARM, Richard Fearn, brand expert and one of London’s best-known serial investors, Linda Jiang, who co-founded China’s largest mobile data analytics company (acquired by Alibaba), and Rogier van Willigen, who founded and exited three companies as a sole founder, to our other amazing investors – each of them has an unparalleled background in some aspect of the company’s mission.

“The product is currently in the first step of the final six phases of live testing, with five additional phases taking place over the next six months, working together with our partners in care. 

“We’ve demonstrated market demand at this point and hope to launch just before the end of this year to get the first sales underway. Deployment will be on a HeSaaS – Hardware-enabled Software as a Service – model: a monthly fee per user covers usage of our hardware as well as continuous monitoring. 

“Beyond that, and beyond our beachhead market? Not to reveal too much, but we may have a number of ongoing partnership talks at the moment, that, if successful, would immediately deploy our technology to tens of thousands across the nation. 

“Having completed our pre-seed round in January, from next month we are also gradually opening up our seed round, aiming to conclude that round by August.”

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