For those who crave the thrill of winter, there’s always that delicate dilemma between staying warm and wearing too much bulk. Founded by U of T engineering alumni Alex Huang and Jason Yakimovich, FuelWear introduces a first of its kind intelligent lightweight heated base layer that resolves that problem by automatically regulating body temperature.
FuelWear was born out of a desire to stay warm during bone-chilling Canadian winters. Huang reveals, “Last year’s polar vortex was a huge motivation in pursuing and developing FuelWear. Ever since my exchange in Switzerland I’ve gotten more passionate about winter sports, but it was difficult to find the perfect gear that would help me brave freezing chairlifts and long lines in the snow.” A U of T engineering graduate, Huang co-founded FuelWear with fellow engineer Jason Yakimovich, “We knew each other in Switzerland, and we’ve also got a new partner in Clement Zhou. All of us are passionate engineers aiming to solve the pain point of finding adequate winter gear that’s warm, non-bulky and is versatile enough to be worn indoors as well.”
The unique comfort-and-convenience approach of FuelWear differentiates their product among a host of winter wear competitors. “Before FuelWear, a lot of other companies were focused solely on bulky outerwear. Moreover, other companies with similar heating technologies had batteries that were incredibly heavy. We bucked this trend and intentionally designed FuelWear for use as a person’s inner or base layer. This way our customers are more comfortable and the product itself is a lot less bulky with a streamlined, unobtrusive battery and general design. Although FuelWear is designed with winter sports in mind, it’s perfect for general winter use.” Huang also sheds some light on the powerful technology within FuelWear, “with an intelligent heating system that senses your body temperature and automatically heats up or cools you down appropriately, FuelWear is unique in that it’s specifically tailored to your individual needs.”
Huang is excited by Toronto’s standing as an incredible hotbed for entrepreneurial opportunity, while also sharing some insights on inevitable challenges that every business faces. “I love Toronto for its amazing network of driven individuals with the know-how and resources in any conceivable field. It’s also a market filled with opportunity” states Huang. However, Huang also admits that as a recent university graduate and entrepreneur, there are a lot of challenges to overcome. “I’ve always liked entrepreneurship,” begins Huang, “but I could never come up with any ideas to actually pursue. I soon realized that even though knowledge is incredibly valuable, the real learning and value comes from the experience of taking action and just going for it. If you have a great team, an open mind and a good mindset, achieving big things is actually more feasible than you think” acknowledges Huang.
The FuelWear team belongs to a unique club of Canadians eagerly awaiting winter, to the dismay of their warm-weather loving compatriots. “In the immediate future, we’re focused on seeing out our Indiegogo campaign, and then we’ll build our website and start expanding into independent retail stores.” Huang concludes with a perspective balancing both the upcoming challenges and possibilities, “There’s a lot of work to do but with the amazing support of our fans during the Indiegogo campaign, we’re looking forward to delivering an amazing product that allows people to enjoy winter to its fullest while staying warm.”
JJ Wong is a contributor to Toronto Standard. Follow him on Twitter.