Xobile, the open source entrepreneur

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Brief Profile

  • Xobile from Johannesburg, South Africa
  • 35, Married, 2 children 12 & 14
  • Business owner
  • PhD computer scientist – works as a research engineer at Cape Town University
  • He wants to create a successful business and sees a good fit with OSPD activities. He would like to scale up existing OSPD activities through his business.

Demographics / Curriculum Vitae

Xobile grew up in a township, where collaboration was a needed reality (he and his fellow classmates had to allocate themselves different parts of the curriculum in order to pass the bachelor exams) to achieve higher education.

5 years ago, he launched a knitwear brand using traditional South African mohair, and repurposed knitting machines with patterns inspired by traditional Xhosa designs.

His premise is to start with a closed model, but he is interested in circular economy and would like to open source his business, once he is comfortable with proprietary and commercial licensing. He is interested in OS in terms of testing his market, getting feedback from experts and the community he wants to build up around his project; but he would also like to tap into the visibility available to projects within the open source movement.

He would like to launch lines of sweaters using crowdsourcing, for a selection of design, and knit to fit technology in order to “mass customize” his products for a better fit towards his global high-end clientele. (Specialty shops in London, Moscow, Paris and San Francisco). His designs are so novel and the materials so beautiful that he has been winning awards from the top design capitals.

He also proposes to repurpose rent and maintain knitting machines and a design library to share with Fablabs, possibly to create books to sell, or subscription for new designs.

A day in the life of Xobile

Xobile shares his time between his research work at the university, and networking with suppliers, customers, and experts in body scanning and knitting technology. He is familiar with the work created by Sandy Black and Knitic, and uses the Knitic technology to repurpose the knitting machines for his workshop. He also has a tinkering training program to teach youth how to fix the machines. Since he embraces education, he believes that everyone should have access to it. This is what motivates him to ensuring that others have access to the knowledge he has to share.

Leisure activities and interests

  • He enjoys reading on a wide variety of subjects.
  • His health is very important to him and so he engages in physical exercise 3 times a week.
  • He enjoys going for hiking trips with his family and spending time with his wider kin and kith.
  • The rest of the time he spends on his project.

Personal goals & values

His vision is to have an impact on the creative market. He would like to benefit not only his community but also a large number of people with his skills. Xobile wants to do his part to push technology forward, but in a human-centred (Ubuntu) way, while showcasing the beautiful designs his culture has to offer.

Communication and interaction

Xobile interacts with a global community of makers and experts through email, skype forums and occasional fashion fairs and international conferences.