A trip to Japan to explore the Asian market and the potential it offers: dimpora’s experience

Spend several weeks abroad to enable your start-up to develop on the international stage. That’s the aim of the Innosuisse internationalisation camps. This support initiative recently gave two dimpora employees the opportunity to visit Japan to meet potential customers and to look at ways of achieving large-scale production. The two colleagues from the Zurich-based start-up returned home delighted by the enriching experience which allowed them to gain valuable insights and make useful contacts.

People often buy jackets and other outdoor clothing for their durable and waterproof qualities. Unfortunately, the layers that make these items waterproof are made up of elements that are environmentally harmful. Many outdoor clothing products on the market are made with water-repellent fabrics and membranes that contain toxic chemicals, such as perfluorocarbons (PFCs) or solvents. “PFCs are known as ‘forever chemicals’ because they’re extremely difficult to dispose of,” says Anna Beltzung, CTO at dimpora. “With the rain for example, these products end up directly in nature and remain there for a very long time, impacting fauna and flora.”

Since 2019, dimpora has been developing a waterproof and breathable membrane free of toxic chemicals. Using an ultra-fine microporous structure and durable polymers, the layer developed by the start-up allows sweat to evaporate, while preventing water from penetrating.


Japan as a base for expansion
“To accelerate the development and marketing of our technology, we’re looking for potential customers, but also sites with substantial production capacity. This meant the chance to explore markets abroad came at a very opportune moment,” indicates Anna Beltzung. Innosuisse’s start-up coaching programme recently provided dimpora with the opportunity to visit Japan for an internationalisation camp. An enriching experience. “Innosuisse, in collaboration with Swissnex in Japan, helped us to prepare for the cultural differences, put us in touch with local companies and gave us the resources needed to validate our business concept in the local market,” adds the CTO.

With a choice of 12 possible destinations, dimpora did not select Japan randomly. “It's the second largest market in the world in terms of sportswear consumption with strong growth in outdoor clothing,” points out Nina Spörri, Operations Lead at dimpora. “Japan has a rich history of making textiles for outdoor use'. It also has large facilities for the manufacture of membranes.”

A successful experience
While in Japan, Anna and Nina had the chance to present dimpora to customers and to visit potential production partners throughout the country. “It was an extremely insightful experience. The opportunity to meet potential customers face-to-face made communication easier for sales and meant we gained a better understanding of their needs and challenges. When assessing potential production partners, it was vitally important to see their facilities and meet the operational staff,” explains Nina Spörri. The Swissnex team in Japan helped us to overcome cultural differences, especially when we had to communicate with people who did not speak English.”

A bright outlook
Back in Switzerland, the dimpora team can reflect on many positive aspects of their experience. “We gained invaluable knowledge of the Japanese market and learned a great deal about this remarkable culture and how Japanese people negotiate,” explains Nina Spörri.

The goals of establishing collaboration with new customers and forging production partnerships are also well on track. “Several projects with companies we met in Japan are now in progress. We’ve scheduled production trials of our membrane too. The aim is to reach a sales agreement on a fixed volume of membranes”, reveals a delighted Anna Beltzung. This key step would allow dimpora to scale up its production output and market its technology to major sportswear and outdoor clothing brands.

Last modification 05.09.2023

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Anna Beltzung, CTO and Nina Spörri, Operations Lead at dimpora.