New York Fashion Tech Lab, the accelerator for start-ups in the fashion industry, is back for another round with the new program beginning today.
This story first appeared in the March 9, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The accelerator is a collaborative effort between major fashion retailers and serial technology entrepreneurs. The tech lab is different from other accelerators that are mostly funded by venture-capital firms looking to get a return on their investment in that this one is funded mostly by retailers. While there’s some VC backing, such as Springboard Enterprises and the Partnership Fund for New York City, funding from within the industry allows it to learn about the new tech ideas and platforms the start-ups are working on, and allows the sponsors to work as mentors to help further develop the ideas they are interested in.
Several first-year sponsor firms are returning again — Alex and Ani, Kate Spade & Co., and Macy’s — and will join new sponsor participants that include Bloomingdale’s, Fossil Group Inc. and VF Corp. A new category focus this year is Fit Tech and Wearables.
The new class of participants, selected by the sponsoring firms, are Cloth; Customer Engaged Pricing by Nyopoly; InSparq; Liquid Assets; SKUIQ, Sundar and Switch Embassy. Some of the firms are involved in some form of data analytics.
According to Kay Koplovitz, NYFT Lab cochair, Kate Spade board member and Springboard chairman, the group has fine-tuned the program after last year’s learnings, including adding a month to the program and consolidating subject matters of the workshops.
Maria Gotsch, NYFT Lab’s cochair, said that it is still in touch with last year’s graduates. “Most are substantive discussions with retailers they met with last year, with half raising seed funding mostly from individuals than venture funds,” she said. Gotsch added that it will likely take about 12 to 18 months from when the program ends to forward those discussions to the point where actual revenue contracts are signed with the start-ups. “The [accelerator] compresses the time it takes to get the right discussion going,” she noted.
This year’s Demo Day is planned for June 12.