MILAN — Startupbootcamp, the leading European network of corporate-backed accelerators helping start-ups to develop their business globally, on Thursday wrapped up a two-day selection of 11 start-ups active in the “Fashion Tech” field.
The Prada Group is the initiative’s main supporting partner, flanked by sportswear brand Stone Island, consultancy PwC and Accenture, as well as a range of Italian textile firms, such as Marzotto Group, Albini Group and Reda.
The shortlist of 17 finalists was selected from among more than 1,220 applications for the category, with the 10 winners entering a three-month acceleration program spearheaded by Startupbootcamp and held at the WeWork co-working space in central Milan from Jan. 20.
Along with fellow companies, the Prada Group will act as a mentor of the accelerator program kicking off in January, during which the start-ups will develop their ideas and products or services to be pitched to an audience of potential investors in May during the program’s Demo Day, which will be hosted by Prada in Milan. The luxury company’s team of mentors spearheaded by Lorenzo Bertelli, the group’s head of marketing and communication, included Marco Scattolin, Prada’s director of insights and analytics, and Ilaria Santoro, IT project manager.
“Prada’s commitment to closely follow the first phase of the project was confirmed by the enthusiasm of our dedicated internal team who have cooperated with Startupbootcamp to the analysis of candidacies,” noted Bertelli, the son of Prada’s co-chief executive officers Patrizio Bertelli and Miuccia Prada. “We have also hosted some of the sessions of the international scouting tour and this has allowed us to breathe innovation and see with our own eyes that the projects involved have covered an array of topics, proposing complementary insights with respect to the core business while voicing the latest sustainability-oriented trends of the industry.”
In Milan over the next three years the accelerator will help fashion-tech start-ups build scale internationally, supported by its partners and mentors. Prada has inked a three-year collaboration with the accelerator, thus supporting 30 start-ups totally.
Solely focused on businesses that offer advanced technological solutions to address fashion’s market challenges, Startupbootcamp’s Milan unit gathered companies that provide sustainable fabric and garment production solutions, smart materials, digitally driven manufacturing techniques, supply chain transparency and traceability, technology-enhanced retail and commerce solutions, as well as recycling, waste management and circularity.
The 10 winners included Georgia-based GFaive, a machine learning-based predictive model aimed at forecasting customers’ trends and demand for brick-and-mortar retailers and e-commerce platforms. Already leveraging an enterprise value of 1.5 million euros, the start-up is looking to enhance its predictive algorithm by implementing social media data, weather forecasts and social learning trends, in addition to historical data collected from retailers, thus increasing the model’s current 70 percent accuracy, explained GFaive’s head of sales and development Irina Khaykina during the 20-minute pitch. “We had the ambition to take this model to the global market and we unexpectedly found out that fashion retail was the sector really needing and lacking such a tool,” she said.
India-based Bigthinx launched in 2018 with the goal to overtake the number of companies offering tech solutions for body scanning and measurement. Shivang Desai, cofounder and chief executive officer, said “the company is essentially a B2B service based on a white label licensing business model.” One of the company’s tools, called Lyfsize, can get 3-D body scans and 44 precise body measurements from just two smartphone pictures, with a level of accuracy that is around 95 percent, allowing bespoke clothing companies to reduce returns, ditto for clients buying online and looking for their perfect size. Blending machine learning and computer vision, the Lyflike app allows users to create their own avatars and virtually try on clothes from any brand that is indexed by Bigthinx.
Renoon has launched this year as an e-commerce platform amassing sustainable fashion products. Pitching to a group of representatives from textile companies, the three Italian founders highlighted their vision is focused on eco-friendly and circular products rather than brands. The selection is carried out via available information on each item, including the fabrics’ certifications. The platform currently carries around 2,000 fashion products from brands including Ecoalf, Nanushka and Reformation, among others.
Tokyo-based aoiShip, an e-commerce platform founded in 2018 by Adam Boujida and Kazumasa Ito, offers Japanese fashion and streetwear brands an e-commerce platform to sell their products worldwide, while also providing these smaller businesses a community of influencers to promote them.
Viume is an AI-driven software that brings to customers’ attention a selection of products that facilitate their purchases. It is based on image recognition and self-adaptive algorithms to boost cross-selling and engagement.
Amsterdam-based Style Search kicked off in 2017 as a fashion search platform that employs a technology based on image recognition and an algorithm combining each user’s personal style with the latest fashion trends pledging to “make fashion shopping inspiring and easy.”
Other winners include American start-up Obsess, a VR- and AR-powered virtual shopping destination offering an immersive experience; Ubique, a luxury membership and concierge service; Staiy, an e-commerce company offering sustainable brands; Skmmp, the Ireland-based B2B start-up pledging to digitize the showroom experience, and Namék, which aims to ease the tie-up between brand and influencers.
Leveraging a global network and activities across all continents and different sectors, Startupbootcamp asks for an 8 percent equity stake in every start-up it brings to its Demo Days.
“The answer from international start-ups…has exceeded our expectations and has confirmed that tech companies are attracted to the excellence of Italian fashion,” noted Alceo Rapagna, ceo of Startupbootcamp Italy. “In wake of these results, which represent a safe bet, we will also kick off new projects in Italy for other sectors that are relevant to the country.”