Prada Sup­ports Star­tup­boot­camp Pro­gram

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

WWD Digital Daily - - News - BY MARTINO CAR­RERA

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.

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