Alex Shirley-Smith

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Alex Shirley-Smith is a British entrepreneur. Alex started Tentsile in 2012 and is based in London.[1]

Alex Shirley-Smith, founder of TentsileAlex Shirley-Smith, founder of Tentsile




@tentsile (8.21K followers)


@tentsile (203K followers)


Early Career

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Alex started Tentsile in 2012. They detail the beginnings of their company in their Starter Story interview: [1]

Q: How did you get started on Tentsile?

I am a qualified architect that specialized in treehouses for the most recent part of my career.

This was a childhood dream realized, as my love for treehouses was born when I was 6 years old and saw the first glimpse of the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest. I knew from that early age that putting people in trees, could be the only long term solution to saving the world’s forests.

From treehouses, I moved into tensile structures made from fabric materials, trying to create the biggest amount of usable space, using the least amount of materials. By combining the engineering practices of suspension bridges, with the biomimicry of a spider’s web, I was able to create space, made from pure tension, that created a 3D structure that could hold the load of a human.

After creating a prototype in 2010 and refining the design, I set about sending out photos of my invention to some of the “green’ design forums on the internet. One of them ( published my photo and description and overnight, my basic website was overwhelmed by 40,000 hits and 2,500 emails. That was when I knew there was a market for a collapsable treehouse and a new way to elevate people’s outdoor experience.


It was fortunate that I had this moment of viral interest as my funds had depleted completely (due to the prolonged prototyping process) and I was on the verge of having to go back to work in someone else’s architectural practice. We never took funding, we retained all control and grew our business from there, organically and steadily over the next 5-6 years.

Source [1]