Cocona Technology is one of the fastest-moving suppliers to the sports and outdoor industry. Founded in 2006 and run by former managers of Gore-Tex, Outlast and eVent, the U.S. company saw its sales grow by 80 percent to $20 million in 2012, and Brad Poorman, the company's chief executive, predicts that they will jump by 120 percent in 2013. At the Ispo Munich show earlier this month, he told us that the company has the potential to hit the $200 million mark in five years' time.

Besides its unique business model, Cocona may derive some of its future growth through its diversification from the outdoor and sports sectors into other industries such as the medical and filtration businesses, as well as military applications. It has also started to develop and market finished products such as Cocona branded socks, which are made for the company at factories in the U.S., Europe and South Korea. It is adding footwear, towels and bedding.

As previously reported, Cocona raised $15 million in new equity a few weeks ago to support the expansion of its activities from its original institutional investors, Fairhaven Capital and OnPoint Technologies, by bringing in a new one, HIG Growth Partners. Poorman is still one of Cocona's shareholders, along with two other veterans from the breathable membrane business who are the company's master licensees for the Asia-Pacific region and for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Cocona claims to improve moisture management, waterproof breathability and the UV protection in spun and knitted yarns through a patented compound based on coconut husk and other natural microporous materials. The U.S. office, which employs 20 people, and its master licensees in Switzerland and Hong Kong license specific mills to develop and supply fabrics to a growing number of licensed brands including Abacus, Adidas, Asics, Cutter & Buck, Marmot, Millet, New Balance, Norrøna, Pearl Izumi, Puma, Rab, Rip Curl and The North Face.

The treated products are said to be outperforming established industry standards by as much as 50 percent. They are used for such sports activities as hiking, backpacking, road and trail running, ice and rock climbing, mountain and road biking, rafting, rowing, sailing, golf, tennis, fitness, and a variety of snow sports.

Cocona develops samples together with the brands and gives them extra visibility through its own branding, which is getting increasing recognition through a variety of advertising, marketing and public relations activities. Cocona is spending 15 percent of sales on advertising, but it is recruiting a new marketing manager following the recent resignation of the previous one, Chris Castagno.