Business Model

Start Up
SuperSample was founded 15 years ago during the rational exuberance at the ending of the Cold War. In fact, the same printer (an HP Deskjet) used for editing the English translation of the original Russian historic "500 Days" plan to reinstate the market was later used as the experimental mechanism for the discovery of shuttle-head inkjet textile printing.

Early Business Model
Soon SuperSample was using wide format plotters as we built a business providing strikeoffs and small lot production for New York's textile converters and designers. We developed unique proprietary chemistry, with pre-coatings tuned to optimize color yield and fastness for various fabrics through after-print steaming and washing regimes.

Business Partners
When word of our progress spread, many alert venders (divisions of giant companies) started working with us. Encad (now part of Kodak) gave us a printer for testing with textiles. CIBA, BASF, DuPont and Kimberly Clark gave us textile inks. Kodak, Kimberly Clark, and Hewlett Packard have signed secrecy agreements and taken confidential inspection of intriguing parts of our technology.

Best Color Quality
In the beginning our printers were modified paper printers, which had four colors. But the four color system, which works well on paper, doesn't yield the complete gamut on textiles. We had to mix-up liquid dyes for spot colors to match each job. In 2000, Kimberly Clark gave us a 12-color printer to test. Here was a real challenge: twelve inks are just enough to reproduce the textile color gamut, but there was no software fully capable of exploiting twelve colors. We developed our own (patented) software and built a system that produces the highest color quality and works in an easy natural way.

Ubiquitous Image Interface
Different in approach from most digital color printers, we print from client's RGB images, not 4-colors, multi-channels, or indexed files. Our color management software works with the original image and gives our colorist powerful tools to pitch inks by focusing primarily on color space, not coordinate space. With the triumphant rise of digital photography, 24 bit RGB has now become the universal color system. The Internet features many galleries with growing numbers (many millions) of 24 bit RGB images. There are commercial image galleries, public and private archives, and Wiki's featuring millions of images in the public domain.

Web Business
SuperSample was founded about the same time as the World Wide Web. Our first website advertised our services, but few customers even knew about the web then. Now just about everybody has access to the Internet, and our website, supersample.com also provides customer services with pricing information, technical guidelines, image uploading, live webcam of our printer, and an archive of time lapse webcam videos. Internally we use our website for intra-company communication, constantly reviewing our printing process, moving large images, storing supplier contact information, publishing job sheets, and referencing patent databases. Our next software releases will be web applications based on our design and color management software, so we can easily extend printing control to remote locations. And we plan a web facility that combines invoicing with payment receipt.

New Business Model
Our mission has been the advancement of ink jet textile printing. Our business has grown very slowly, we have been more successful as a research laboratory than a service bureau. We still have the highest quality printers (with 12 colors) which suffice for studio work, but for real production they are too slow, and several generations behind the latest, best hardware which is almost fifty times as productive. To take large printing orders we farm out the work to other shops with newer faster equipment. Our shop is sized for partial pieces about five yards long, while textiles come in fifty yard pieces which the newest textile inkjet shops are equipped to handle. We outsource locally and globally. So, we are not only textile printers; with demand brought by the reach of the Internet, we have also become textile converters. Our business has outgrown the capacity of our shop.

Price Stability
For 15 years we have maintained our printing price at 100 dollars a yard. Our service has gotten more responsive and the quality of our work has been refined. Now artists exhibit their work with our printing in museums, couture designers drape models for the runway with their fabrics (and our printing), costume designers use our printing for Broadway shows and television, and our sample prints become the prototypes for mass market apparel. Supersample has the highest quality printing in the textile world.

Intellectual Assets
As a textile printing laboratory SuperSample has made many developments including new methods of color management, software tools for creating new textile designs, customer service web facility, intense color chemistry, small lot processing, local and worldwide production outsourcing. SuperSample has recently applied for patents on a new architecture for textile printing that makes use of fixed-head inkjets in conjunction with conventional high speed rotary printers. We think this new universal printing method will lead quickly to world wide adoption of inkjet mass production with advantages that include higher productivity, lower production costs, lower pollution, faster market response, simplifying market considerations with fewer closeouts and more fulfilled orders.

Market Statistics
Worldwide, annual production of printed fabric is about fifty billion yards. It accounts for about a hundred billion dollars in turnover. SuperSample's business is nanoscopic in comparison to the world textile markets, yet its advanced methods of digital printing, combined with its Internet application, point the direction for a revolutionary shift in commerce in the textile printing markets. SuperSample is the seed of this new web-based industry.

Market Opportunity
Now speedy digital printing is becoming more wide spread both in demand and supply, though still a small fraction of the textile printing market. We are developing the world's highest quality digital printing --as a convenient service delivered through the Web-- that really gives clients a desirable, amazing product. Here is an opportunity for prospective business partners with strengths in fashion marketing and financial services to work with us to build an industrial textile printing market, where clients can easily realise digital creation on a mass scale.

- David Kushner,  President, SuperSample Corporation