FTA, hub devoted to fashion technology
Mar 17, 2020
Fashion Technology Accelerator, also know as FTA, is a hub devoted to fashion technology since 2014. How has the scenario evolved since then?
FTA started from Silicon Valley because it was widely believed that the fashion industry needed to be disrupted as other sectors such as food and tourism. Silicon Valley was thought to be the best place possible for this search, as technology would have driven this change and make the industry progress.
However, various promising technologies have had a limited impact on the fashion industry. For example 3D printing, blockchain or online configurators that have yet to be utilized industry-wide despite being on the verge of adoption for several years. This means that the main technological developments in the industry were contained to certain subsectors such as e-commerce, where fashion companies have been growing threefold since 2014.
Talking about the startup side, fashion technology unicorns are almost exclusively digital native brands such as Allbirds, or innovators such as Rent the runway, and this speaks volumes about the difficulties to gain prominence in this sector for purely technological companies.
How you operate to keep the pace with the market?
Our accelerator has always kept on eye on market trends and actively cooperated with fashion brands to better understand how to diversify our own portfolio. This is one of the main reasons why we have a variety of portfolio companies spanning from business model innovators to marketplaces to purely digital solutions, as the industry is constantly changing.
For example, nobody would have predicted such as the seismic impact of sustainability in the last 2 years, but we were already following this sector closely also through a dedicated corporate event called Rethinking Fashion Sustainability that started back in 2016.
How do you select and develop partnerships with startups?
We actively collaborate both with early-stage startups and more developed companies. In the first case, we organize two calls per year that are open to any early-stage fashion technology startup willing to grow through our dedicated support.
In this case, if we select the company we become a minority shareholder and we work with them for 6 months to optimize their digital marketing, business development and fundraising strategy.
We create tailored programs for each startup entering the program, a strong differentiator in our industry that highlights our full commitment that encompasses various key activities.
Even when we don’t select a startup, we stay in touch as we are partners of initiatives such as e-P Summit, the most important event in Italy for fashion technology, and White. Business opportunities may arise and as we are also collaborators in various EU projects focused on fashion technology, we are in close contact with numerous startups that we have not integrated inside our portfolio.
For more developed companies, we have actively collaborated with a handful of them that are part of our “hub” giving mentoring sessions and other perks. This is quite sought after by bigger companies that are looking forward to entering the Italian market.
Last but not least, for startups still at their inception, we strongly recommend following our blog as we offer a variety of contents to help their development. We organized training programs and we have also launched the Fashion Digital Academy to help their development.
What is the Fashion Digital Academy?
Fashion Digital Academy is a free e-learning course for any fashion professional that would like to know more about how to start a fashion business. We created this content because we know what many entrepreneurs struggle with, including how to define a compelling value proposition, how to create a defined style and how to study competitors. Our insights stem from our professional experience and we have supported them through a dedicated model called the Fashion Digital Canvas. It is possible to start from the canvas to outline a comprehensive strategy that represents what investors, customers and brands will look for once you are up and running and competing with other fashion technology entrepreneurs.