If you’re a fashion accelerator, of course you’re going to be in NYC. If your focus is on FashionTech, then, of course, it’s New York again, hands down.
The New York Fashion Tech (NYFT) Lab is an initiative by The Partnership Fund for New York City, the investment arm of the Partnership for New York City, and Springboard Enterprises. The accelerator program grooms tech companies with a strong focus on fashion or retail/etail solutions and connects them with leading fashion retailers.
It’s the Accelerator’s second year and wait until you see the many ways that tech is changing fashion – and all eyes are on this latest class, from 7th Avenue to Madison Avenue and right down to Wall Street.
Kelby & Co
Dropel Fabrics is the world’s first hydrophobic cotton textile supplier. The fabrics are water and stain repellent and made of plush premium cotton that we love, but now with the protective properties of polyester, without feeling like cardboard. And Kelby & Co are the only company on the market to offer nanotechnology and natural fabrics in one package.
“Our natural textiles maintain hand feel and breathability while wine, juice, and coffee run off without leaving a trace,” said Kelby & Co Cofounder and CEO Sim Gulati. “We offer brands and retailers the opportunity to develop their own hydrophobic exclusive fabrics. Through an international infrastructure, we seamlessly integrate with brands’ existing supply chain and production processes. Sign-up at dropelfabrics or purchase at www.kelbyandco.com.”
Since joining the accelerator, the company has secured programs with four menswear brands, a childrenswear brand, a footwear brand, and home furnishings company.
“The energy and aggressiveness of NYC is like no other place in the world. It’s a grind that can be tough, but the opportunities are near limitless,” said Cofounder and President Bradley Feinstein.
“We are currently developing fabrics for retailers, brands, and designers that seek to explore new possibilities,” Gulati continued. “Over the years, I have witnessed innovation in polyester and synthetics, but cotton has remained the same. So we set to change that, and created innovative natural textiles. Welcome to Dropel Fabrics.”
inSparq helps retailers instantly market and merchandise their trending products. Trends drive higher conversion and average order value by showcasing what’s hot at the moment. inSparq is the only solution that enables retailers to merchandise trending products in on-site recommendations, email marketing and now, advertisements. inSparq also offers on-site social tools, allowing retailers to incentivize their shoppers to share more. Clients include innovative retailers like Kenneth Cole, American Apparel and Coca-Cola.
“We’ve doubled our pipeline since joining the Accelerator, and closed a major deal (hasn’t been announced yet),” said InSparq founder and CEO Veronika Sonsev. “The NY Fashion Tech Lab has been an amazing experience. Our mentors, Alex and Ani and Kate Spade & Company, have provided valuable advice and feedback throughout the three-month process. We’ve had access to executives at all levels in our mentor companies and the network surrounding the accelerator is passionate about the mission and ready to help.”
The company is New York born and bred, and not uprooting any time soon.
“NYC is the center for fashion. Living in NYC, I can easily have 10+ meetings per week w/prospective clients. This really makes a difference for building relationships and closing deals,” said Sonsev.
As for their big news? “inSparq is excited to announce that we’re launching trending products in advertisements. We’ve been offering trending product recommendations for ecommerce sites for about two years. Now, we’re adding the capability of featuring trending products in ads. These ads can be used to dynamically optimize creative for customer acquisition.” More to come on Demo Day!
Switch Embassy is an aesthetically and socially-driven fashion technology company that makes sewable, washable, flexible inserts controlled by a mobile application. They call it the SE Infinite Canvas TM. The illuminated SE Infinite Canvas TM, gives you the freedom to instantly alter graphics, text, and animations directly on the product itself. It’s an on-the-fly experience, where you can adapt, change the design, make a statement, express emotions, and connect with others through your clothing. The ready-to-integrate platform makes any fabric product instantly customizable to suit the brand and consumer experience.
“Fashion and Technology are coming together like never before in history. We are bringing the dynamic and emotional nature of Fashion to new forms of expression via technology,” said Alison Lewis, Switch Embassy CEO and Creative Director. “We want the world to know that Switch Embassy has the ingredients that can bridge the gap and lead fashion technology into the future. We are designers ourselves; we know how to bring infinite expression and instant customization into the future with style, a care for craftsmanship, and with the fashion industry process.”
The world seems to be finding out: Switch Embassy won this year’s Techtextil Innovation award for best new concept.
Being part of NYFTL also helped them dial it up a few notches.
“Being in the Accelerator has helped us meet with some of the top companies in the fashion industry and understand better the challenges and pain points of entering into the wearable market,” Lewis offered. “We have first hand knowledge on where the fashion industry is in relation to wearable tech. These meetings and the mentorship has directly influenced how we talk about our offerings and the technical functionalities of the SE Ingredients. In NYC, we are able to meet with the fashion influencers and decision makers. The vibe and excitement of the city and its inhabitants makes it a wonderful place to test new products. We’ve put a couple of sample products in the hands of fashionable consumers to get feedback. What we found was a world of millennials and tech-savvy Gen Xers who want better crafted, more beautiful and expressive ways to enjoy technology in their lives.”
And Switch Embassy seems to be negotiating that path for them.
Sundar is a collaborative platform that connects creative professionals with quality materials and qualified vendors globally. Sundar streamlines the discovery and sourcing process for the apparel and accessories industries by providing sophisticated search, curation and data-driven insights to buyers and sellers, 24/7.
“We have design and technical data that didn’t exist in a digital format, until we surfaced these hidden suppliers and artisans in remote and opaque parts of Europe and Asia. What we are building at Sundar is bigger than just a marketplace – we are creating the world’s most exclusive search engine and online community for curated, local, and offline suppliers and an important materials database and archive,” said founder Jag Gill. “Online sourcing is a crapshoot for designers – fake vendor profiles, generic, old data and ugly UI – why shouldn’t the back-end of the apparel industry be as sexy, streamlined and connected as the end-customer experience? At Sundar, we are fusing data, marketplace dynamics and digital to transform this old-school industry. Since joining the accelerator, we have focused on refining product-market fit, have worked with fast growing and exclusive women’s wear brands in the city enabling them to create and build new products from new markets, and have signed up hundreds of creative professionals who can’t wait to use our service.”
The company is Boston-based, and has being in New York made a difference?
“NYC is the most important fashion influencer and global trendsetter – it’s the #1 dynamic ecosystem for design, creative capital and cultural edge,” said Gill. “Being in NYC has exposed Sundar to emerging designers and brands, as well established retailers, and has provided us with a 360 degree lens from which to grow our business. We have met fashion industry pioneers and veterans as part of the NYFTL mentorship program.
Engaged Pricing by Nyopoly
Engaged Pricing (EP) is price optimization at the customer level and built on a basic idea: that customers value the same products differently and a single price for many shoppers is inefficient.
EP is a white label SaaS that quickly and discreetly finds optimal pricing between an individual shopper and a single retailer. This pricing conversation approach is more efficient (and more fun for shoppers) than traditional flat discounting models, and captures shoppers’ true willingness-to-pay.
EP is touchpoint agnostic, customizable, and non-competitive, whether utilized in-store or online, the shopper is always empowered, and the retailer is always protected.
“Current pricing strategies are broken – one price for many shoppers will always be wildly inefficient,” said Joe Shartzer, Cofounder of Nyopoly. “We’re introducing (and growing) partnerships that bring Engaged Pricing to the public, in both in-store and online implementation, and are in talks with major tier one retailers.”
Cloth began life as a consumer-facing app that makes it easier for users to save and organize their favorite outfits, and to see what other people are wearing – a sort of virtual closet that doubles as the world’s best search for real-time street style.
“We’re now taking elements of this app and what we’ve learned from it, and using it to craft retail-facing B2B offerings that solve specific problems facing retailers when it comes to mobile,” said CEO and cofounder Seth Porges.
And that’s a big part of what the accelerator experience is about, after all.
“During our time in the Lab, we realized that there was a great opportunity to take what we learned from this product—as well as some specific pieces of technology that were built for this app—and work directly with retailers to solve some of their specific problems. We’re super excited to do just this. By putting us directly in touch with great retailers, the New York Fashion Tech Lab gave us a unique, insider perch from which to shape our ideas into products that will actually help potential partners. We aren’t just guessing that retailers will want X or Y feature–we know because we’re working so closely with them.
“We were given the chance to learn what retailers want, how they do business, and how we can hopefully work with them. For a startup, that knowledge could be the difference between merely a great idea, and a great, sustainable product.”
SKU IQ believes that real-time inventory data, through integrated offline and online systems, is the first critical step to becoming a true omni-channel retailer. SKU IQ is an integrated commerce platform for retailers with an online and physical store – and an absolute requirement for retailers who want to participate in the upside of same day delivery, click and collect, and more.
“The future of omni-channel retailing cannot exist until we have a fundamental layer of real time, location based inventory,” said California native and SKU IQ CEO, Ruchika Kumar. “Being in NYC has helped our company immensely. Proximity to the heart of retail afforded us 20+ hours with retail mentors, which have undoubtedly shaped our product. Most importantly, NYC affirmed the need for SKU IQ. We doubled our client base over the course of the NYFTLab program and note: we work with small, medium and luxury retailers.”
And speaking of what investors like to hear, Kumar said,“We are revenue generating, with a proven SaaS model and a client base that is growing rapidly. While we are returning to our home base in San Francisco after the program, we will be back in NYC frequently to continue our progress here.”
42 is a big data platform for retailers. The end-to-end solution helps retailers analyze point-of-sale and inventory data, to answer key questions around product assortment and in store execution.
“42 takes care of the entire process, from data cleaning to analysis, and we also provide retailers who don’t currently have an existing data warehouse or data model with a platform to do sophisticated analysis,” said Nicolas Porter, Cofounder and CTO. “Retail and technology are both evolving at a record pace. It’s more important than ever for companies to keep up with the latest data trends. Those who can leverage the newest technology to stay ahead of the trend will be the new industry leaders.”
42 is doing their part to help, and used their time wisely while participating in the accelerator.
“We’ve pushed new versions of the product that are faster and more powerful. Through NYFTL, we talked to amazing retail partners who were able to give us their thoughts on where analytics was important for their business. And the new version of 42 is now available!”
Makes sense for the Canadian-born startup to be in NYC.
“Many of our key customers are in NYC, it helps to have face to face meetings on a regular basis,” Porter added. “Being in NYC also makes it easier to stay in touch with what’s going on in the retail and Alley community.”