Liz Bartlett. Photo via fb.com
An entrepreneur pursuing the creation of 3D-knitted products for multiple industries has won the latest 5×5 Night.
Emerge 5×5 Night invited five entrepreneurs to compete at Start Garden in downtown Grand Rapids last month for an opportunity to receive $5,000 in grant funding, and Liz Bartlett's startup KNITit was selected the winner by a panel of judges.
KNITit specializes in 3D knit programming, product development and manufacturing and has a commercial space in downtown Grand Rapids, at 319 Division Av.
With a Stoll CMS 303 tc electronic knitting machine anticipated to arrive this Friday, Bartlett said she’s then leaving to teach a three-week intensive course at the University of Michigan and plans to officially be open for business later this fall.
Due to the business’ early stage, Bartlett said the significance of participating in 5×5 Night and winning the $5,000 is huge.
“After I won, I was approached by a lot of people who hadn’t heard of me until that night, thinking of different knit applications,” Bartlett said. “It looks like one of my first projects basically came out of 5×5. It is a really great advantage when people you don’t know know who you are, and I think that has helped me.”
Bartlett anticipates using the $5,000 to pursue the creation of 3D knit products, such as conductive yarn to develop a laptop case that can charge wirelessly, compression garments for patients with cerebral palsy, and using stainless steel or fiberglass material.
“My expenses far outweigh what I am taking in,” Bartlett said. “This not only helps balance it out, but because I am so small, it is so significant. I don’t have to take out a small business loan. I can use the money to re-invest into my company and explore different types of yarn.”
While KNITit is pursuing clients in industries such as health care and automotive for immediate development and small volume custom manufacturing, the startup is also interested in providing 3D knit garments and art to the conscious consumer, according to the 5×5 Night website.
“I am not selling a product. I am selling a process, and it can be used for any product,” Bartlett said.
Emerge 5×5 Night is hosted on the fourth Tuesday of each month and provides an opportunity for early stage entrepreneurs to receive $5,000 in funding to move their ideas forward.
The next 5×5 Night will take place on Aug. 25 at 5 p.m. in downtown Grand Rapids at Start Garden.
The event is free and open to the public.