Congratulations to Geox founder and Chairman Mario Polegato for being named Innovator of the Year this Wednesday at the CNBC European Business Leaders Awards. Judges cited him for having “broken new ground in developing a ‘fashionable brand with new technology. ‘”
Geox offers men’s, women’s and children’s footwear lines with a focus on breathable materialization. Polegato founded the company in 1995 and named it Geox, a mixture of the Greek word “geo” for earth and “x” a letter element symbolizing technology.
Polegato was originally groomed to take over the family wine-making business. Fate took a turn while on a break jogging in Reno at a wine industry conference. His feet got hot from the exertion and he had the idea to cut a couple holes i the soles for his shoes with a Swiss Army Knife. Then, he developed the idea into a viable product with the help of a small leather goods business his family owned.
He went on to multiple unsuccessful attempts at pitching his invention to several established footwear manufacturers. They weren’t into it (this happens a lot, I know from experience..). Nevertheless, he didn’t give up and after passing the market testing phase for his line of children’s footwear, Polegato began large-scale production of shoes under the Geox name. The same year he improved the original patent and extended into men’s and women’s footwear.
Today Geox is heavily invested in innovation. At their R&D facilities, 15 engineers, chemists, and physicists are employed in research on perspiration and human generated heat-movement patterns (according to Wikipedia).
Geox’s headquarters are in Italy, with factories in Romania, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Brazil, Slovenia, India, Macau, and South Korea. Read more about the story in Footwear News.
The interesting thing about this story is how close it hits to home and how simple a concept it was that allowed Polegato to transform an idea into a prospering business and a brand standing for innovation and comfort. The other interesting thing is that this award went to someone in the footwear industry- not someone in technology or alternative energy or something like that- It went to footwear. The bottom line is that there is still so much improvement to be made to this industry that has been around since hunter gatherers were…
This story not only hits close to home for me but for anyone with the simplest idea to improve an age old product. It took Polegato years and resilience past tons of rejection to get to this recognition and this point. The day he received the award not only marked a day for Polegato’s career but for the footwear industry as a whole. Congrats Polegato, Italy, and Geox for all their hard work!
Just goes to show, there is still much to be improved upon in footwear. Stay tuned!