Entrepreneur Needs Math to Bring Revolutionary Products to Life

Jul 18, 2018 | Fort Collins

You can’t pigeonhole David Horinek. How could you? He’s a chemist, a cryptocurrency inventor,  business owner, and … expert hairdresser? 

You read that right. Horinek’s a true entrepreneur: He constantly conceives new ideas and is fearless in their pursuit, no matter where they take him. His varied interests have one thing in common: They require him to use math.

Let’s start at the beginning. Horinek learned the basics of sales, profit and loss at age 12, selling tires at his cousin’s gas station in Oklahoma. He made stellar grades through school and went to college to study accounting, but soon lost interest went to cosmetology school.

Where’s the math in that?

It turns out that cutting hair involves a tremendous amount of geometry (and a bit of trigonometry) to determine the correct angles needed for the length, growth pattern, density and elasticity of each client’s hair. Coloring hair also requires mathematical chemistry (“color math”) to determine the right ratio among multiple colors of hair dye to achieve a sought-after result.

Horinek’s skills in this area set him apart from other stylists, and soon after graduating, he opened his own salon. Surprisingly, he said, “Running a business was easy, due to my accounting and people skills.”

While this was happening, his grandmother was suffering from knee pain. Wanting to help her find relief and undaunted by his lack of experience in this area, he embraced the challenge. 

“I started experimenting with manipulating the body’s heat to heal itself,” he recalled. Entirely self-taught, he began to infuse polymers (large molecules or macromolecules composed of many repeated subunits) with crystalized mineral powders that react to heat (thermo-reactive).

Over the years, continued experimentation resulted in the creation of Celliant, a polyester fiber loaded with precise amounts of 13 thermo-reactive minerals. Celliant recycles and converts radiant body heat into infrared energy that is reflected back into the skin. This causes vasodilation, which promotes circulation and boosts the body’s oxygen levels. Fabrics that incorporate Celliant (“responsive textiles”) increase athletic performance, aid recovery, and improve sleep.

Celliant turns the skin's heat into healthful infrared light.

Horinek said that math “is the most important part” of Celliant production. “Each particle has to be a specific size, from nanoparticles up to one micron, which is 100 times thinner than a human hair. Every fiber has to be loaded with minerals at a specific percentage.”

Celliant may sound like the stuff of sci-fi, but in 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ruled that Celliant products qualify as both medical devices and general wellness products. That’s huge.

Infrared energy is considered to have beneficial health effects.

Hologenix, the company that produces and sells Celliant fiber worldwide (among other products), was founded by Horinek in 2002. Today, Hologenix sells Celliant for use in a wide variety fabrics and applications, including performance-boosting activewear and athletic shoes, bedding and sleepwear, furniture, and products for horses and dogs.

Celliant's applications are almost endless, but the sports industry has embraced it with special enthusiasm. Adidas, Reebok, and Saucony have used Celliant in their gear, and currently Under Armour is licensing Celliant for its TB12 bedding and sleepwear line, which aids in athletic recovery. Tom Brady is the line’s spokesperson.

Tom Brady is spokesperson for Under Armour's Celliant product line.

While developing Celliant required significant work with ratios and measurements, actually proving that it provides legitimate benefits required serious testing, incorporating statistics and other areas of both pure and applied mathematics.

“Celliant has performed over nine clinical studies to prove our efficacy, and math is the most important part of making sense of the data you acquire. One of the studies was the amount of oxygen your cell uses during exercise. We proved that after wearing Celliant, your body had two percent more oxygen available to finish your exercise or athletic event. If an athlete has two percent more oxygen than his competitors, he will win.”

Another study gauged blood flow. “You had to calculate either the speed of light or the speed of sound bouncing off your blood. You obtain this information through tens of thousands of data points. Without mathematics, all of this is impossible.”

In addition, to promoting Celliant and running his salon, Horinek became expert at polyphenol sciences. He developed a sun protection and skin renewal product line, using fulvic minerals from the soil, that convert the sun’s damaging UV rays into visible light.

“The math side of this is calculating different frequencies of light that have positive metabolic effects on the skin,” he said. “In layman’s terms, I take a fast-moving light wave, say, 380nm UV, and shift it to 660nm red light. This stimulates the production of proteins, which keep the skin young.”

Horinek also co-developed a business to produce and distribute alkaline water: Designing a specific ratio of salt to water gives the water a higher pH (potential hydrogen) than tap water, which boosts hydration.

The value of both fulvic minerals and alkaline water to human health is the subject of some debate, but Horinek is confident that they make a difference to well-being and longevity at the cellular level. He’s currently working to develop new fibers that help to slow aging through the biophotons emitted from the body, based on the work of German physicist Fritz-Albert Popp.

Oh: He’s also developing his own cryptocurrency, which is all math. By bar-coding DNA, it will enable people who wish to donate or presell their organs (or body parts) to direct where the sales proceeds should go. This would allow families to benefit from the deceased's donations for the first time. He does this as a side gig, of course.

Whatever product or business Horinek dreams up, he knows math will be a critical component in developing, manufacturing, and proving effectiveness to the scientific community.

“Without math knowledge, you will not be able to realize your dreams in a society that is constantly evolving at exponential speed. Every aspect of life moving forward will be predicated on your ability create the new technologies of the future,” he said. “The heroes of the future will need all different types of math skills.”