WWD Digital Daily

Prada Supports Startupboo­tcamp Program

● The luxury group was among the initiative’s mentors and partners during the selection event in Milan.


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 startups 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 selfadapti­ve 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 startups...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.”

 ??  ?? Stefano Galassi, Startupboo­tcamp’s managing director for the “FashionTec­h” program; Nazzareno Mengoni, cofounder of Startupboo­tcamp Italy, and Alceo Rapagna, ceo Italy of Startupboo­tcamp, Innoleaps and The Talent Institute.
Stefano Galassi, Startupboo­tcamp’s managing director for the “FashionTec­h” program; Nazzareno Mengoni, cofounder of Startupboo­tcamp Italy, and Alceo Rapagna, ceo Italy of Startupboo­tcamp, Innoleaps and The Talent Institute.

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