“We were once a tiny a start-up,” said José Neves of luxury fashion platform Farfetch, “And at that point I needed exposure to boutiques, brands and customers to try my service, and I needed technology support and mentoring. And that’s what the Dream Assembly is all about.” The company founder and CEO launched the start-up accelerator program back in April, and the 11 businesses selected to take part in the first sessions were unveiled earlier this week.
Designed to support the best entrepreneurs, teams and technology in order to build the next generation of fashion and retail, the Dream Assembly will provide mentorship, knowledge, networking opportunities and early-stage funding to start-ups. Welcoming the first wave of successful applicants in Lisbon on Friday, which hail from companies based in the UK, Canada, Turkey, Hong Kong, France, Portugal, the US, Nigeria, and the Netherlands, the program will take place over 12-weeks, during which time participants will take part in a series of workshops and one-to-one sessions with senior Farfetch executives, as well as mentorship meetings covering topics from ecommerce, marketing and technology to fashion, logistics and operations.
In addition, the Dream Assembly will offer curated networking opportunities, connecting the start-ups to relevant contacts in the fashion industry. Burberry, known for its digital innovation, will be providing a module for the first cohort, and early-stage venture capital fund 500 Startups will also provide two weeks of programing, including one week spent in San Francisco.
“We were delighted by the response from so many incredible companies,” said Stephanie Phair, Farfetch’s chief strategy officer. And according to the company, the first 11 start-ups were chosen for their work on bridging new technologies, such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence, with commerce, two key pillars of the fashion e-commerce platform. They include The Restory, a UK-based technology-powered luxury restoration brand, personal styling app Wishi and peer-to-peer high fashion rental site Villageluxe, both Carmen-backed businesses based in the US, Canadian Ftsy ‘footsy’, an app that uses AI and smartphone technology to scan a user’s feet to curate a personalized footwear collection, and Buy Buddy from Turkey, which has created a smart shopping device that provides real-time inventory.
Hong Kong-based Upteam is also part of the first wave, a data driven B2B pre-owned luxury bag and accessory curator which supplies authentic items to both online and offline shops across 30 different countries, and from France, Shopvious, which aims at giving luxury brands access to the most reliable and actionable analytics through a new ground-breaking data source. There is Fashpa from Nigeria, a global marketplace for African fashion and design, Auverture from the Netherlands, a designer fine jewelry destination, and two start-ups from Portugal, Didimo, a leading creator of high-fidelity digital humans, and Reckon.ai, which uses computer vision to collect relevant information from websites, catalogues and social media to create a platform where retailers can monitor their competition.
Applications will be open twice a year for start-ups to join the 12-week Dream Assembly program, with Farfetch looking for teams that are solving real problems and creating meaningful innovations that will enable the retail industry in the future. “It is a pleasure to be able to give back to start-ups and the fashion technology ecosystem, sharing knowledge and expertise, and helping promising companies to scale to the next level,” said chief technology officer Cipriano Sousa.