Interview with FashionTech Milan - a Startupbootcamp retail accelerator based in Italy
Interview with FashionTech Milan - a Startupbootcamp retail accelerator based in Italy
Startups interested in the next accelerator batch apply here on *F6S*.
Follow FashionTech Milan on LinkedIn.
Darius 0:01 Welcome to the retail tech podcast. My name is Darius Vasefi. I'm the host and producer and this interview is being recorded on clubhouse and will be published on retail tech podcast.com. We're going to talk for a few minutes with our guests. And then if the audience has any questions, you're welcome to raise your hands and come up. Today I'm speaking with Avatar legger. And is the final Colossus. The funnel has some audio issues. So we'll try to get most of the interview done with Avatar from a startup bootcamp fashion tech, Milan. So we're going to talk about fashion tech and retail tech startups. Welcome to the show.
Avital 0:46 Thank you very much. Thank you. Glad to be here. And so as you said, We are from startupbootcamp questions like in Milan. So we are a patient tech accelerator. We the focus on disruptive startups, of course, one of our main topic is wiggle deck. And which is a really important topic. And especially in the period that we're living in right now. It's something that we definitely need to disrupt. So I'm working in this project of fashion tech in Milan since the launch. Two years ago, we launched our probe project in, let's say, and normal, more normal days before the pandemic. And we work with the disrupt, let's say the disrupted the leader leader is in the fashion industry, that are our partners. And these days, with the Korean challenges, we can all see that. The, let's say the destruction arrived to all of the all of the tables of everybody because the challenges became real, and it becomes something that we need to Taco and not only because we want to innovate.
Darius 2:10 So let's talk a little bit about the startup bootcamp. That's a, that's a is that a separate company? Or is that like a parent company of the fashion tech accelerator? Yes. So
Avital 2:27 startup bootcamp is an accelerator that was launched in 2010 11 years ago, and has several, let's say, accelerators all around the world. So we have been tagged, we have fashion tech, of course, we have food tech, and so on. So it depends on the countries. We have accelerators in Australia and Singapore, in London, in New York. So we decided to open the accelerator in fashion tech, in Italy, because the industry here was really advanced. And we saw the gap between the advance of the fashion industry and the innovation needed to be integrated.
Darius 3:14 Okay. So now, you know, we are in the US, of course, and one of the things that we don't know enough about is what's going on in the rest of the world, sometimes. So this is really interesting for me, to see what kind of innovation and startup activity is going on in the rest of the world. Now, I'm a member of a startup studio group. So I do know a lot of people in Europe that are really active, but on the fashion tech side, this is really interesting for me, because it's of like my direct interest and business. So what kind of what kind of activities are you seeing in Europe as far as investment in fashion tech and retail tech startups?
Avital 4:07 Sure. So I will tell you, in, in France, in, in, in investment and startups in Europe, I think it's globally more or less connected to the new world that we are all living so of course, it depends on the country. But I think the topic that I would like to discuss the more demand is omni channel, and unified commerce. So of course, to unify the offline and the online. So the retail tech to really to connect it to everything and to follow the follow the let's say the audience that you want to reach.
Unknown Speaker 4:51 Okay,
Avital 4:52 something and really interesting startup that I I was I talked with him this week. It was a startup that was able to track your, let's say, exposure to a publicity or some marketing in, let's say, Google ads or Facebook ads, and they can track and they can see that eventually this conversion rate, this conversion went and the customer went to the store and purchase this is really important. And also in terms of GDPR, they was they could successfully follow the customer and to see really that he purchased the product.
Darius 5:34 That's interesting, interesting case. Yeah. How do they I'm interested to find, like, learn how did they do that with GDPR.
Avital 5:46 So actually, that was also my first question to him. And I will tell you, as much as I can say, obviously, because they're already collaborating with the huge corporates, and this is really interesting, especially because now most of the people that are buying online, but slowly, we're coming back to also purchasing in retail in store. So what we are doing for what they are doing, they basically track tracking, with the phone, the people that are coming in the store, so they have this special opportunity to see with the phone number, how they are going to how they got exposed to the brand.
Darius 6:38 Okay, so So it's, it's interesting. I mean, it could be a topic of another conversation. And that's actually one of the things that I'm interested is to work with, you know, your team, and actually bring up some of the startups that are actually being built, you know, in fashion tech and retail tech in Europe. And, you know, bring them in again, get more attention to them in the US. Through through my my podcast. Yeah. So that would be an interesting potential interview to discuss. Now, how
Avital 7:11 can I say I'm sure it will be happy to explain I don't want to share too much information also, because you know, the startup life, it's really fast and everything moving really quick. So I wasn't
Darius 7:27 sure. Yeah, we'll talk about that offline. Now, how does the boot, you know, the boot camp actually work? Is it likely there's an application process that startups go through?
Avital 7:41 That's a great question. Actually, we just finished our second cycle. This year, we did it online. And the first year we welcome 10 startups from all around the world, in our offices in our headquarter in December of this year, we are just launching our new scouting tour. So we are launching our new cycle. And we are in the process of the application. So we are evaluating startups that are interesting for us, and that we can help them for us, it's very important to find this match because we are working as the bridge between our partners. And the startups, of course, that we have part strong partners, like, efficiently there's like products. So nylund, Valentino the industry, the textile leaders, industry, and the other side, we have also consultancy and innovation centers like center and PwC. So for us, it's really important really to help in under the open innovation mindset to really help to connect between our partners and the start of because we believe that in the b2b business, it really can help them to grow fast.
Darius 8:58 Okay, so where do people actually apply? What's the and I'll add the URL, but if you can say it right now.
Avital 9:09 Sure, so, we take application on the f6 test. So this is our platform. And of course, fashion tech started with compression tech and the link is Bitly slash apply now official deck if somebody wants they are otherwise I will be also happy to to explain better about our company.
That will be
my pleasure. And we will be also happy to see if we can really generate value.
Darius 9:46 Okay, so I'm looking on the website and it's also if people go to startup bootcamp.com Yes. Oh sorry.org startup bootcamp.org Exactly. Right, and they will see the information about the accelerator and the fashion tech, Milan. Oh, yeah, yeah.
Avital 10:14 Thank you very much. Sorry. So exactly as you said, in this, in this website, they can see all our programs and specifically also about fashion tech
Darius 10:25 looks like the applications open in 14 days.
Avital 10:30 Now, we opened the application in advance, because we wanted to give the opportunity already to some of the startups that we've been in contact with them to apply. So we are open already.
Darius 10:41 So you're open already. And as you said, last week on six, or F six s, that's a startup, I guess. Pitching platform. That's f as in Frank, the number six and s as in Sam, I think.com. Six S. S?
Avital 11:07 Yes, that's calm. And for sure. Also, they can follow us on LinkedIn. And there we are actively public, we are publishing our news and also the date of our acceleration program and the opening application. So we are mostly communicating there. So startupbootcamp questions that we are also wanting.
Darius 11:32 Okay, that's good. So what kind of companies? Are you looking for in the next batch for the next batch? Yes, this
Avital 11:43 is a great question. So of course, that we are looking for companies that are disrupting their retail tech. And that's why we are also here, because it's a really important topic for us. And another important topic for us, it's sustainability as a business and everything related to new business models regarding sustainability, and new materials, new ways of approaching of recycling, and so and so on. And the third, main vertical, it's interesting for for the Bureau, which is really disrupting the more the machinery and the innovative solution. So, of course, we would like to help to start up but they're coming in, they're beginning with disruptive solutions we are working mainly on help him that helping them on the business model and the connections and to really push share, push through this level and to scale up their business.
Darius 12:54 Okay, what stage do these companies need to be in? Do they need to have a working product? Can they be an idea stage?
Avital 13:03 This is another great, great question that is so we accept mostly startup in the say in the seed that precede the level of course, we also, I think you're interviewed also mind so we from 3g, yes, he participated in our growth program, which is a program that we are helping more or more advanced startups more, let's call them scaleups more advanced scale labs that are already having clients and or if you have been a structure for business model. So with our expertise and Stefan oglasi, our managing director with their 15 years of expertise in fashion tech, our partners, our CEO and turn afonya which is also with a longer a history in the fashion industry also as the former CEO of Ulta beauty. So in that case, we offering also the support for more advanced companies. Okay, so
Darius 14:11 but at this time, yes, really early stages
Avital 14:16 to early stages or this stage, let's say around MVP, so, we would like them to be already incorporated or about to incorporate with the two co founders at least and more structured not in the idea phase, we are not incubators, we are more accelerators.
Darius 14:38 Okay. And what about the location of the companies?
Avital 14:45 another great question. So we are global fashion tech, why not focusing on geography we are focusing on generating impacts. So what we are also the thing that a pandemic allowed us it's really to work remotely from all around the world. So this year, we have startups from New York, from Canada. Last year, we had started from Singapore, from Berlin from Russia. So we are really International, we are more focused on the idea and the solution. And we accept companies, not regarding them, geography, but regarding the business model.
Darius 15:30 And so let's talk a little bit about what happens when a company is accepted.
Avital 15:39 Okay, so when a company is accepted, you mean accept this our program? right?
Darius 15:44 Correct.
Avital 15:46 Okay, so let's say that we have the three main phases. So we're starting, we're starting with the first phase, which is the shaping phase where we are really validating the idea. This is a great opportunity to validate the idea with our experts and mentors and partners, because you can validate the idea already with your future customer. So this is this, this is giving this giving you a really great opportunity to understand if the validate the product. After the first phase, we have in the second phase, which is the building phase after we understood that the direction is good. And the idea is a good idea. And we have already a validate product, we are working on building a strong product. And we are working to also help the founders with workshops related to leadership workshop, but also investment workshops, where we teach them not only how to approach the investors, but also how to maintain the relationship. And so and the third part, the first the last part is the consolidation. So the selling part when we are after we work on a strong on a strong product, and we build it we are working on creating this possibilities of pilot projects or pure season really to understand how we can help them to launch to the market and their arrival. So our demo day where we demonstrate that say that the three months of their workshops and master classes that we are doing also with industry leaders in the fashion market, or also in the tech system. Okay, yeah, that's great. wish them the best to be launched. And this is just the beginning. Our program is just the boot camp. Right.
Darius 17:56 Right. Yeah. So, so to just to recap, I'm speaking with fashion tech, startup accelerator, based in Milan. So you're, you're you're like, let's say, based in Milan, is that how the company is structured? The fashion tech accelerator?
Avital 18:17 This is another great question, though. So we are based in Milan, our headquarters in Milan. But the moment we are working all remotely from all around the world. So I'm at the moment in Tel Aviv, our manager director is in Dubai, our production manager is in Bucharest. So we are at the moment, we are working remotely. So that's why we are also accepting startups and we are not obligating them to come to visit us in our offices.
Darius 18:50 Okay. Yeah. And I did see a part of your last demo day presentations. And I should say that they're all very good. So very well produced. Yeah, I'm pretty good, good program. So well, at this point, if anybody has a question for other call, we'd like to learn more, please raise your hand and we'll bring you up. We'll continue our conversation. I am interested to learn more about your partners and how they help. Yeah, so who are they and how will they actually help the companies that get into the program?
Avital 19:34 Okay, good question. So, our partners are divided by what we are working for, right. So we have partners that they are more focused on fashion, like leading brands like Prada, Valentino stone Island, we have the textile Association, the textile Foundation which our group which is a group of the As the leading textile luxury companies in Italy on the other side, we have innovation centers like at center and barbed rope and jelly phi and PwC, which are the companies that are more on the innovation side. We have also as the gamma, which is just creation of the luxury, the luxury brands in Italy, and how they, how they help us and which benefit we give them, right, because this is important. And we, we help them because we integrate innovation in their company. Because having a dedicated team for a company, it's really hard project, right? What we're doing well help helping them with their challenges, if they have some challenges that they would like to learn better about how to innovate, we can help them with the startups and solutions. And as well, we're doing some, let's say our goal is to generate and to really meet the needs of the partners, our partners and the startups and really to create this pilot project for PLCs. And really to help both sides. Another way that we can help them I think we are our approach is really open innovation. Bay. So we are really open. And our main goal is to innovate and disrupt the fashion industry. So there are many ways and a lot of still things to work on. So we are just doing this.
Darius 21:46 Okay. What the, the picture of follow on funding for startups, especially in Europe, like, you know, the companies that have gone through the last batch, for example, have they raised money from the demo day with the investors? And where are these investors? Typically?
Avital 22:11 Yes, sure. So we have the investors that are part from our ecosystem, and we are having sessions with investors, and we are introducing them the startups that we choose to our cohort. So of course, to the investors, it's also they trust more the startups because they've been chosen by us. So it's a two way win win situation. Because even if the startups are going after our acceleration program and are ending in their pitch deck, or they're telling you now their investors that are future investors that they've been accelerated by, by startupbootcamp, it's really good reputation also for them. So we have our health. Of course, the investors that trust us, and also it's good for their reputation.
Darius 23:09 Okay, and do you feel you feel that the investment pace of investment is actually increasing and getting better for retail tech and fashion tech startups?
Avital 23:23 that's a that's a good question. I think that during the pandemic, it was a farce. But I think the past was, it happened everywhere, not only in Starbucks and not on the also in force in the hotel business. And I mean, tourism. So I think it was a little pause. But what I see now that there is a lot of movement and a lot of investment in innovation, because it's needed, it's needed. And during the pandemic, we saw how much we are behind with the innovation and how much it's needed. So from my personal perspective, where we are just in the beginning, and also their investments and their interest from investors is raising.
Darius 24:16 Okay, yeah, that's, that's, that's the other side of the I mean, this this entire ecosystem is that if we don't have active and people who are willing to under and they understand the business, the retail business Yes, well, then, you know, we don't have enough innovation and innovation is one of the biggest it's the it's really the oxygen of the future of retail. So without innovation, retail is not going to survive and you know, we already see especially like, even like omni channel retail, on the local level, so
Avital 24:58 I complete it agree with us are you say think. And we all know that the old business model of retail, it's not working anymore not in the tracking, not in the understanding of the client and not of the giving them the maximum pleasure of, of, let's say, the experience of purchasing a product. So there is a movement towards innovation, which is positive. And I cannot wait to see all the startup and disruptive ideas to be already in store applicable and easy to use for everybody.
Darius 25:39 So, the application process for the next batch is open right now, how many applications do you expect to get? And you ultimately select? 10? Correct?
Avital 25:54 Yes, yes. So we usually get around 1000 applications a batch, of course, only focused on our area and the verticals that we're looking for. And we will choose the best, the top, the top 10. But as I said before, the top 10 are not the top 10 startups, but they are the top 10 startups that we can create a generate synergy between us that we can really help them. And we can generate this bridge between our partners and the startups that we will choose.
Darius 26:33 Or the partners are part of the selection process.
Avital 26:38 Yes. not actively, let's say they are reconsidering their idea. Yes. So we are involving them in the event. So we are having during the application versus we're having fast tracks. So this year, the fast tracks will be hybrid, online and offline. So we will be hopefully in New York in Dubai, London, Madrid to meet physically the startups. And also we're going to have weekly based fast track with our partners and our ecosystem as well. So they will be actively eventually, in the big day in the selection, guys, they will actively also say their opinion as well on their preferences.
Darius 27:29 Okay, and one, what are the dates for the next accelerator? I guess, batch or group.
Avital 27:38 So the next batch is starting in the 11th of October, and it will be three months acceleration.
Darius 27:46 Okay, so between now and then you're going to be taking applications and reviewing them and going through the onboarding process for the approved accepted companies.
Avital 27:59 Okay, exactly.
Darius 28:02 Okay, great. Well, I think this is a really good introduction. I think we have we also have some, you know, to build on. So thank you so much for your time. And let's let's, you know, continue our conversations to see what how else we can help get more really good startups.
Avital 28:25 Sure, Daria, thank you for your time. Thank you for inviting us to be in this job in tech club. It's it's really nice to have this conversation with you. I will be also happy from your side to hear if you have some startups that you think that they can be interesting for us. That would be also really nice. As you are super experts in on this topic. It will be great also to develop mutual synergies between us in the future.
Darius 28:59 Definitely. Absolutely. Definitely. Yeah, we'll talk I will try to get Stephano in in a good location next time. Exactly. Yeah. All right. Well, thank you so much for listening Stephano and I'll be speaking with you and have a wonderful day or night. And we'll talk to you soon again
Avital 29:24 for your time, thank
you for inviting us.
Unknown Speaker 29:27 Ciao.
Unknown Speaker 29:27 Ciao.
Darius 29:31 Bye bye.