Stacey Burr leveraged her pioneering work at DuPont in the textile-fiber industry into the successful startup Textronics, which she now leads as vice president of Wearable Sports Electronics at adidas. (Photo by Charles Jischke)
Moving Further, Faster
Stacey Burr accelerates her STEM career
With natural smarts, ambition and a 1984 Purdue BS degree in industrial engineering, Stacey (Baitinger) Burr enjoyed steady success throughout her early career in both technical and sales/marketing roles with DuPont. After she added an MS in industrial administration from the Krannert School in 1991, that success escalated, and today she is known as a pioneer in a burgeoning industry.
As vice president of Wearable Sports Electronics at adidas, Burr is a key name to know in the “Quantified Self” movement — the explosion in self-monitoring and feedback that uses the latest in electronics to measure physical activity and the body’s responses to it in order to achieve better athletic performance or overall health and fitness goals.
Until Burr came along, self-monitoring devices had to be strapped to the chest or other pulse point. Today, as her title implies, she leads adidas’ effort in self-monitoring electronics that are literally knit into garments such as shirts and sports bras.
If good luck can be defined as preparation meeting opportunity, Burr had some fantastic fortune late in her 19-year tenure at DuPont, where among many titles, she served as global product strategy director for DuPont’s Apparel and Textile Sciences division.
“I found myself in the textile-fiber business — kind of surprisingly,” she says of those years. “I was getting some marketing experience and running a fashion, ready-to-wear apparel business for them. The traditional fashion industry was generally low-tech — and I like high-tech — so I was intrigued when I learned of some researchers trying to integrate electronics into fabrics. I became fascinated by the intersection of these two odd bedfellow industries, so I started investigating if we could justify a business case.”
She found the justification just as DuPont was selling its textile business to Koch Industries. “I approached Koch and said, ‘If I raise venture capital to fund a startup, will you contribute the intellectual property patents behind the technology and let us finish up the technical work in the lab?’ And that’s what happened.”
Burr’s pitches resulted in investments from three venture-capital firms, two in California and one in New York. Soon after, in 2005, Textronics (textronicsinc.com) was born.
Burr and her team knew there were many directions they could take their fledgling company in developing and marketing the textile-electronics technology they were perfecting.